Essay: Limbaugh and Hannity Off the Air? Not So Fast

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Rush Limbaugh Some pretty big news broke over the weekend in the political radio world: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the two biggest names in conservative political talk radio, may soon be dropped by their biggest radio station owner.

According to Politico’s report, broadcaster Cumulus Media has decided to drop both hosts, after negotiations broke down between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the Clear Channel division which distributes the shows. Cumulus-owned stations carry the two shows in more than 40 markets, including several major cities.

So this means, basically, that the war of ideas is over and conservatives have lost, right? The viciousness and race-baiting got to be too much, the advertiser boycotts worked, and the corporations have decided they can no longer, in good conscience, be in business with these two men. That’s right- America has heard every argument, and they’ve rejected Limbaugh and Hannity, and the era of far-right conservative media has come to end. So long Rush and Sean- America has heard what you’re offering and they’re not buying it, not anymore. Right?

No. Not at all.

Limbaugh and Hannity are two of America’s most popular broadcasters. They are huge, huge, moneymakers, both for themselves and for the companies associated with them. They’re being dropped due to a dispute about how to divvy up that money, not because the corporations involved have had a sudden attack of conscience. If Cumulus doesn’t continue to carry their shows- assuming the stories over the weekend aren’t a leaking tactic for leverage purposes- chances are someone else will grab them, and both Limbaugh and Hannity will still be on as many stations a year from now as they are today. According to Politico:

The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity’s shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.

Whether what they do good for America- I lean towards the “no”- or for the electoral fortunes of the Republican Party is another question entirely. But the problem with Hannity and Limbaugh has never been that they don’t make enough money for their business partners.

Meanwhile, Politico reported that Cumulus has been “reaching out” to other hosts, such as Mark Levin and Michael Savage, about taking over the Limbaugh and Hannity slots should the two hosts be dropped. If you’ve never heard Levin or Savage, picture Limbaugh and Hannity, only more unhinged and with louder yelling.

If the free market determined that there was no longer any appetite or interest in what Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are selling, then that would be a wonderful thing for American politics. But that’s not what’s happening here, and I’m not excepting that to happen anytime soon.

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