Sean Iling interviews conservative talk radio host John Ziegler who quit after Trump's win on vox.com.
There are a lot of reasons why it (his radio show as an experiment in calling it straight to a conservative audience) failed, but the straw that broke the camel's back was the election of Donald Trump. The part of this equation your audience will be most interested in is the reality that talk radio, in the era of Trump, isn't remotely conservative. It's also no longer about the truth. It's about telling people what they want to hear.
It's very much like a cult now, where the purpose is to substantiate what the religion is telling you and anything that runs counter to the religion is inherently false and blasphemous, even evil. So anyone who breaks from orthodoxy is a traitor.
(Iling mentions that Wisconsin conservative radio host Charlie Sykes had a similar experience.)
For instance, you can't simply say, as a conservative radio host, that Donald Trump lost the popular vote. Now that's an obvious fact, but listeners can't deal with it, they won't deal with it. Fifty-two percent of Republicans, in fact, don't accept this fact, and they don't accept it because they don't have to in their echo chamber.
They live in an alternative reality in which Trump won the popular vote and the Electoral College vote, and that reality is propped up by conservative media.
As a Never Trumper, I'm basically selling beef to vegans at this point. There's just no interest in what I'm saying. If you weren’t prepared to toss out your principles and drink the Trump Kool-Aid this year, conservative audiences weren’t listening.
Sean Hannity (is the worst panderer) without a doubt. Here's a guy that's worth tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars, whose guy won and he still spends Friday nights attacking guys like me on Twitter. I think he realizes what he's done on some level and I think he's incredibly insecure about it.
But he's completely sold out whatever principles he had and he's an abject hypocrite. It's been great for his ratings, though. I’m sure he sleeps well at night.
A good fairy tale will always be more sellable than a harsh truth. Truth is not always comfortable for people, and we're living in an era in which you don't have confront the truth if you don't want to. There are a couple of things that have happened in terms of the economics of media that have altered the content.
In the past, talk radio basically had a monopoly on non-liberal thought and opinion. But Fox News emerged and the internet exploded and talk radio lost that monopoly. So talk radio was then forced, increasingly, to pander to its niche audience in order to compete for their attention.
Now, no matter how insane or crazy a belief is, you can find a media outlet that will affirm it for you. So the pressure to feed the crazies is immense in this media environment. What this means is that talk radio hosts are now gravitating toward their audiences rather than audiences gravitating to hosts. If a host refuses to do this, the audience disappears.
People like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin were so afraid of pissing off the Trump supporters that they were co-opted, and that's about ratings, not conservatism or truth.
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