It was really shocking that all of those “conservatives” went along with media censorship, claiming that it was being done by “private companies.”
Those “private companies” were working directly with the government, and were funded by the government. So when the Bidens came out and said that they were instructing the private companies on who to censor, no one really blinked. Everyone was already very accustomed to being censored.
Now, of course, the government can start directly censoring people, because it makes no actual difference, given that everyone is so used to being censored.
Local talk radio is not often mentioned in discussions about conservative media and messaging in America.
Fox News and even more extreme rightwing television channels like Newsmax and One America News draw the headlines, and Facebook is often noted as a source for conspiracy theories, but behind the scenes thousands of small radio stations make up a patchwork of conservative media across the US that is enjoyed by millions.
In terms of the spread of misinformation, talk radio’s impact is unappreciated, Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a progressive media watchdog, said.
“It is clearly a driving force. A lot of people understandably focus on online, especially when it comes to anti-vax information. But the reality of it is, when the dust settles, I think what we’re going to find is that the real source of a lot of the most damaging anti-vax messaging was driven largely by traditional media: talk radio and traditional rightwing forces like Fox News,” he said.
“When we think about talk radio, the reason it has had such influence is the reach. It still is reaching the largest number of people. Fox [News] is going to reach a couple of million people a day. Talk radio is reaching 40 million, 60 million people depending on the day, maybe even more.
“Talk radio has always bashed elites and the mainstream media, and I think it is an extension of that to be questioning the public health professionals who are the ones handing down, seemingly from on high, these ever changing public health edicts tied to masks and vaccines and other things,” said Brian Rosenwald, a scholar-in-residence at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States.
While radio hosts might be the public voice of that skepticism, it is a common misconception that audiences are “puppets”, Rosenwald said. Instead, it’s radio hosts who might find themselves “entrapped by what the audience wants to hear”.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many rightwing talk radio hosts were publicly skeptical, and, not wishing to lose listeners, and with them advertisers, they had backed themselves into a corner.
“There was a lot of: ‘Come on, this is no worse than the flu, are we really shutting down over the virus.’ There was a lot of: ‘Who the hell are these people to be shutting down the world,’” Rosenwald said.
“Now flash forward: if you’ve started off there in March 2020, when you factor in the general culture to begin with, skeptical of elites, it really doesn’t leave you a lot of room to then reverse course when we get to the point that there are vaccines.
“There’s no easy moment to say: ‘Look, I know I’ve questioned the public health professionals, I’ve questioned the whole thing, but you should listen to them now, go get vaccinated.’ To some extent the genie is out of the bottle at that point.”
Wow, that is a really complicated explanation for why people don’t agree with the government.
I think even Sigmund Freud himself would have to read those quotes a few times to grasp the meaning.
But yeah – the demand is that they pull the broadcast licenses of anyone who questions them.
For a radio station to acquire a broadcast license, it has to promise two things, Carusone said. One, not to overpower your antenna, and two: “Promise that you are fit and proper, that you fit at minimum the basic tenets of getting a license to broadcast.” But the latter is often little-policed, Carusone said.
“At minimum I think it’s a little bit insane that we’ve allowed the whole process about getting a broadcast license to become so pro-forma that it doesn’t matter if your radio hosts are out there dying from their own misinformation,” he said.
“From a regulatory perspective it would be great if there were some rules around this, but at minimum I feel like we already have an avenue, which is if the FCC just treated this as part of the standard license requirement it would help – by telling [talk radio hosts]: ‘At minimum you should be careful what you say.’
It’s weird, but there is actually probably more freedom on talk radio than there is on the internet.
So of course, they’re looking at ways to shut it down.
The “private companies can do whatever they want to you” trick is not as easy to pull with the radio, so they’ve got to start with the government regulation.
But of course, private companies can censor the fact that the government is censoring people.
Censorship is always this kind of death spiral, which is why we had a First Amendment in the first place.