The Big $ Payout to Conservative Talk Hosts [Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck]: Implications for Civil Discourse/Public Interest

As noted by Brian Lowry in Variety, “[W]e now live in the age of the endless election.” His column notes the mind-boggling deals that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck have recently negotiated. Limbaugh has a $400 million eight year radio deal; Hannity’s new radio contract provides a $100 million pay-out (and that doesn’t include his “multimillion-dollar deal with Fox News”); O’Reilly is staying on Fox for $10 million a year; Glenn Beck goes to Fox in 2009–which will reward him additional dough beyond his five-year $50 million radio deal.

This is a very significant investment in people and a communications infrastructure designed to attack and undermine the forces working for change in the U.S. (I’m being very polite!). They will engage in an effort to whip up anger, division, and personal rancor. There clearly needs to be a set of strategies designed to address the consequences of this conservative and right-wing attack machine. Beyond trying to resurrect/revise serious journalism, progressives will need to build out a sustainable digital media content system (social networks, mobile, online video services) that can help the country move forward.

source: “Some Campaigns Won’t Die.” Brian Lowry. Variety. November 3-9, 2008.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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