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The American System Is Broken

“I’ve often suggested a bulldozer will be required to remove Trump from the White House. I’ve amended that today to an army of M117 Guardian tanks, Stryker Combat vehicles, LVSR Wreckers and maybe a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, all coordinated by Dana White.”

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The only sure loser is America. Or, I should say, the two Americas, as this presidential slog of two tomato cans only widened an ideological gulf that leaves us red in exasperation and blue in the face. All the election did was re-confirm a toxic reality: We are a bipolar country that will continue to wage a civil war despite Joe Biden’s vow “to unite, heal and come together as a nation’’ — and if you doubt the social divide, wait until Donald Trump launches a 24-hour TV channel programmed for half the U.S. population.     

It wouldn’t be America, 2020, without a stupefying slugfest ending in coast-to-coast stench. The Democrats think the stink comes from Trump, who, in a remarkable last-stand media session, called himself a victim of election fraud and vowed to send packs of legal bulldogs to the Supreme Court. Trump thinks the stink is grounded in a wide-ranging conspiracy, and while he’s going to do need actual evidence before any judge considers the election was “stolen,’’ I will say this: Trump’s claims aren’t completely inane when an archaic, reckless process invites corruption and inefficacy.     

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,’’ he said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.’’     

Sour grapes? More lies? It’s difficult to trust a president who still thinks the coronavirus is fading into the wind — and a man who likely won a stolen election in 2016. Still, every wee-hours TV shot of a scene out of yesteryear — workers opening mail-in ballots, then placing them in piles on collapsible tables beside trash cans in dimly-lit warehouses — left me with the same haunting conclusion: We can trust neither Big Tech nor human beings to elect a president in the 21st century. It’s a broken system that should be condemned and overhauled, disposed into the same Washington dumpster as the irresponsible mainstream media — who never have looked worse in their failed bias-brainwashing — and the pollsters, who showed once and for all that they’re either nerds on the take or just inept.     

There is no transparency — from Trump, from the Democrats, from the media, from the prognosticators, from the electoral process. There is no integrity. There is no faith.     

Therefore, there is no America.     

The clumsiness of it all only fed Trump’s suspicions that the vote was rigged via dishonest counting practices and phony media slanting. Rather than let him finish his speech Thursday evening, the three major networks that have contributed to dubious election reporting — ABC, NBC and CBS — suddenly dumped Trump and returned to regular coverage. “We have to cut away here because the president has made a number of false allegations,” NBC’s Lester Holt said. Was it their role to cancel the President of the United States? When, after all, he still extended the election into triple-overtime, still showed enough clout to remain a disruptive force into the future and still had enough supporters — a projected 70 million-plus votes — who wanted to hear him. At a critical juncture of an astounding moment in time, the networks wanted to control the narrative of a desperate and defeated Trump, bleeding in the 15th and final round, losing his mind once and for all. Sorry, it is not their place to do so. If he’s lying, let the American people see him lie. They have a right to decide for themselves.     

I’ve often suggested a bulldozer will be required to remove Trump from the White House. I’ve amended that today to an army of M117 Guardian tanks, Stryker Combat vehicles, LVSR Wreckers and maybe a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, all coordinated by Dana White. It’s useless to plead for dignity from a man who has little (hell, Kanye West conceded quickly after landing only a few votes, probably because he missed filing deadlines). Instead, a thick, gobsmacked anxiety will continue to hang over America, with ugly protests reflecting the premise of voter fraud. As Trump was tweeting, “STOP THE COUNT’’ and “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED,’’ people in the city streets were chanting, “Count Every Vote!’’ This is America now.    

If only our future could be as optimistic as Biden thinks. “Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well,’’ he said. “But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that’s been the envy of the world.” Envy of the world? Say it ain’t so, Joe. The world is laughing at us, and likely soon to be laughing at you.     

Assuming Biden survives Trump — and his legal weaponry — and takes over the most unforgiving political hotseat in the history of humankind, he’ll be treated with kid gloves by media who have no shame. There is no doubt about this: They did try to fix the race with deceptive, one-sided coverage. What happened to the so-called “Blue Wave,’’ an assumption the Democrats would control the White House and Congress? As seen all week, four years of Trump-bashing backfired on organizations that allowed wishful-thinking agendas to slant coverage — and projections. The pollsters must go away, starting with the now-miserably-unreliable Nate Silver, who once called 50 states correct for Barack Obama but since has crashed twice on Trump forecasts (he gave Biden an 89 percent chance of winning). The amateurs at MSNBC, meanwhile, literally looked ready to cry as Trump was making it a long race, with Nicolle Wallace abandoning hopes for a Biden landslide and saying, “You can see the hopes and dreams of our viewers falling down and liquor cabinets opening.’’ Later, host Brian Williams stayed with the booze angle when, referring to a Democrat guest, he said, “Wondering how much closer he is to the liquor cabinet.”     

They excoriate Trump for four years, then want to get drunk when they are embarrassingly wrong about a predicted landslide defeat. Just what they teach in journalism school. “What’s journalism?’’ you ask. I think it died, too, this week.     

With nearly every major news outlet needing major chiropractic surgery — leaning in yoga-like contortions to project a winner according to naked in-house schemes — we wanted to believe in an equilibrium-based news source when we can’t believe in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other hysterically anti-Trump organs. They didn’t learn lessons from four years ago, when Trump’s supporters — many blue-collar, many rural, few reading elitist websites — helped him win and shocked editors who pretended those sectors didn’t exist. Nothing changed this time, with the ivory towers assuming 2016 was an aberration and that Biden would win big. The Post, in a purported poll with ABC, said before the election that Biden was up 17 percent in Wisconsin. They were shot full of holes like a piece of Dairyland cheese.     

It was shocking to see Fox News, long considered Trump’s unapologetic rooting section, incur his wrath by calling Arizona for Biden early and becoming the first network to credit Biden with as many as 264 electoral votes. Trump was so enraged, he reportedly called Fox patriarch Rupert Murdoch and ranted. “Many Americans will never again accept the results of a presidential election,’’ said the network’s popular host, Tucker Carlson, who lashed out at mainstream media for pro-Biden bias. As for CNN, I’m amazed at how John King breaks down every new blip from some distant Georgia county with a barrage of data; but eventually, I was ready to strangle him, too.     

The traditional news networks weren’t immune from stumbling. Before the election, NBC projected a “slight lead’’ for Biden in Florida, while CBS was trumpeting Texas as an “unlikely battleground.’’ Wrong. And wrong. Those networks plead for our trust, but they blow it because they are influenced by the same corporate directives that taint Fox News and CNN and, well, most American media.     

How refreshing to see one sturdy, tried-and-true organization show how am election should be reported. The Associated Press never has plunged into the we-broke-it-first cesspool, refusing to predict or name a winner until finality is certain. Nothing was different this year in the most volatile election in modern U.S. history, when only a fool trusted what was reported on a cable network or a traditional legacy site. Even Jack Dorsey got it behind his Amish farmer-meets-ZZ Top beard, listing the AP among only seven outlets that Twitter trusted for results. So I believed the AP when it called Arizona early for Biden. The news service uses 4,000 freelance local reporters who carefully wait for vote counts from every county in the 50 states, then report results to hundreds of AP entry clerks who grill the freelancers and verify the information for publication.     

“There’s no winner in the presidential race. That’s OK,’’ an AP headline said in mid-week, above a story explaining that “the closer the margin in a state is, the more votes are needed for The Associated Press to declare a winner.’’ Professionalism and patience. What a concept.     

Which is in direct contrast to race-baiting that often sounds like an act for attention and traffic. Case in point: The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, who wrote, “If Trump wins re-election, it’s on white people.’’ She might want to ask Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade County and Texas who embraced Trump at the polls.  

The credibility is gone and not retrievable. If the media entered the election with a low trust quotient, they’ve completely lost the American people. And this comes from a guy — me — who has been in the industry since I was 18, has made a comfortable living from it for decades and has been alarmed to see a rapid deterioration of transparency starting with the Internet boom. When we need reality in this country, we get self-styled b.s. EVERY DAMNED DAY.     

If nothing else, Trump would leave Washington knowing that his derisive term for the media — fake news — is a permanent staple of the national lexicon. I just didn’t feel like seeing it drop into my in-box at 6:43 p.m. Pacific time. “DEFEND THE RESULTS! THE DEMOCRATS WILL TRY TO STEAL THIS ELECTION!’’ said the e-mail, signed by Donald J. Trump himself. He also wanted me to help bankroll his lawyers, asking for $2,750. Or more. “Donald Trump is going to court to stop votes from being counted,’’ Biden tweeted. “We have assembled the largest election protection effort in history to fight back.”     

I was going to pass along the e-mail to a Trumper I know. But in a week when the U.S. — in other news — recorded a single-day record for COVID-19 infections, I am exhausted and ready for someone else in the top office, even if that someone else soon will have me wanting someone else. If this crazed American episode was, as Biden said, a “battle for the soul of the nation,’’ that soul is bludgeoned.

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BNM Writers

No Replacing Rush

There never will be a big, bold voice like Rush that can deliver the way he did for so many years.

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After the passing of conservative talk media icon Rush Limbaugh, I labored with what kind of piece I was going to write on the subject.

I certainly wasn’t going to pen a flowery, sentimental column.  Not that I take offense to anyone that did. It’s just that the internet was going to be full of them and all from people who listened to Limbaugh far more than I ever did. 

I wanted to do something that was more proactive and looked forward.

I was going to wait a couple of weeks, let the deluge of memorials and tributes to come in, and then I was going to submit a piece that I have been quietly working on for some time:

THE TOP CANDIDATES TO REPLACE RUSH LIMBAUGH.

I had a list of people that I felt, as a former programmer, were great talents and ideal fits to sit in front of the “Golden EIB Network Microphone.”

As I usually do, I made a slew of phone calls to my contacts at iHeart and in different talk radio circles, to gage their opinion on my list of candidates.

I didn’t get more than a few conversations in before I realized that the column I was about to write was fool’s gold.

The reality is…there is no replacement for Rush Limbaugh. There never will be.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  iHeart will eventually have to figure out something to offer the hundreds of EIB affiliates throughout the country from 12-3p ET/9a-12p PT.  Maybe it’s Buck Sexton.  Maybe Clay Travis makes the pilgrimage from sports to news (which, by the way, I think would be an intriguing choice).  Maybe Tucker Carlson can be lured away from all the projects he’s working on for Fox News.  Maybe it’s a combination of different people offered to different regions of the country.

No matter who gets to replace him in that timeslot, Rush Limbaugh left a void that can never be filled.

This truth has been staring us in the face for quite some time.

IF IT COULD’VE HAPPENED, IT WOULD HAVE BY NOW

Rush did not die suddenly.  His terminal illness had been known for some time.  Even before that, iHeart (and EIB affiliates) have been wrangling with the question of, “Is there life after Rush?” 

Many thought that Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and even Ben Shapiro could be the heir apparent.  However, none of them could command the high dollar rights fees that Rush affiliates were paying.  How high?  An EIB affiliate that I am very familiar with negotiated DOWN their yearly rights fee to a little over $100k recently.  That was getting a discount.

Not to mention, many conservative voices have all found greener pastures on the digital frontier.  Beck has made a fortune building The Blaze.  Shapiro turned The Daily Wire into a profitable, growing content platform that has attracted high dollar investors. 

Why would they want to replace Rush?  They don’t NEED the money or exposure.  Plus, as the old saying goes, you never want to follow a legend.

WE’RE IN A DIFFERENT ERA

Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist and press aide to Mitt Romney, summed up the current situation perfectly in a recent article in the New York Times:

“There’s so many different platforms to interact with conservative voices, and there are so many more voices.  If you’re pro-Trump, you’ve got Breitbart and Newsmax. If you’re more of a moderate Republican, you’ve got The Bulwark and Charlie Sykes. I follow 25-, 26-year-old conservatives on Instagram who are sharing two-minute videos that young people connect with personally.  I don’t think you’ll see it ever again where one person is the king of this realm.”

Exactly.

The media landscape is far more cluttered today and that trend is only going to continue.  There are multiple voices for every flavor of Republican out there and all of them are available on demand.   Because of that, no one person can take the mantle of “King of All Conservative Media”.  In a way, Rush has already been replaced, not by one person, but by many others who were likely influenced by his success.

Williams also makes a great point when talking about young talent and younger consumers.  Those who fit into the Millennial or Gen Z classes don’t have the attention span to listen to a 3-hour radio show, regardless of it being live or on-demand.  Short from programming delivered on social media channels such as YouTube or Instagram have not only proven to be more popular with people of those generations, but also drives far more engagement. 

WHAT CAN AFFILIATES DO?

At some point, “the long goodbye” that is being offered to Rush affiliates will end. 

So, if you are one of them, what should you be doing?

You have two choices: hope or be proactive.

You can hope that iHeart will offer you a palatable replacement.   You can hope that there is another syndicated show you can time-shift or slide into Rush’s old timeslot.

However, as a colleague of mine once told me, “hope is not a strategy”. 

Stations should be taking the money they were paying Rush and re-investing it into building out local programming.   

Sure, the popular decision will be to take the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in expense and put it back towards the bottom line.  That’s the safe play.

As I’ve argued before, now is a great time to not be safe, but to be bold. Take that money, or even a PORTION of that money, and GO LOCAL.

Find a talent that connects to your audience and build out their brand to better your own.

There are conservative voices out there, its all a matter of finding them and grooming them to be great.  Maybe it’s a former political official…like Joe Scarborough.  Maybe it’s a talented youngster who volunteers at the local college radio station…like Sean Hannity.  Maybe its an ivy league educated writer and author like Ben Shapiro.  Maybe it’s a tandem that has good chemistry together.

Talent is out there.  It’s on local stations to find it and cultivate it.

There never will be a big, bold voice like Rush that can deliver the way he did for so many years.  That era of spoken-word media is over. It’s on individual radio brands to find their own way.

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BNM Writers

Joe Biden, Already a Failure

In Bill O’Reilly’s opinion, the honeymoon is over. National chaos and pain are only beginning to kick in. Even if the media refuses to share the facts.

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Photo by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem CC BY 2.0.

It may be only six weeks, but that is plenty to offer an early report card.

The grade – F.

Bill O’Reilly didn’t mince words when he joined the Glenn Beck Radio Show on Friday. When asked what the week’s biggest news story was, O’Reilly said it was the early and clear failure of President Joe Biden.

“I said I would give Joe Biden a chance because he asked for one,and in our Judeo-Christian tradition, if somebody asks you for a chance, and they’re not a convicted felon, you give them a chance” O’Reilly said. “But after six weeks, we have absolute pandemonium in the country.”

The hard-hitting O’Reilly laid into Biden, criticizing the President’s change in border policy, which effectively invites illegal immigrants to flood America’s borders.  

“How exactly is it helping the country to allow undocumented people to cross into the United States, request asylum, hand them $1100 in cash so they can go anywhere they want, and not test them for Covid,” he asked.

O’Reilly noted that 106 undocumented people tested positive for Covid-19 in one day alone. 

According to Beck, 6% of illegal border-crossers have tested positive for Covid-19, and he added “I’d rather have children locked in cages, as they say, that are protected, waiting for someone to claim them that can be clearly tested to be a parent or a relative, rather than this system now of colored wristbands by the mob and the cartels down across the border, that are smuggling these children into America, clearly for the sex trade.”

O’Reilly has spent much of this week, both on his website BillO’Reilly.com and in interviews, such as this one with Beck, detailing the 180 degree difference between the immigration policies of former President Donald Trump and the new Biden administration. He and his guests, such as Trump immigration advisor Stephen Miller, have documented how children are being smuggled across the border into the United States, after which authorities are helping them locate and bring over their parents and families as well. He added, “it is absolutely astounding, and the reason it’s happening is because the media does not report it. So people listening to us now don’t live on the border, they don’t know what’s happening. This is going to lead, in the next two years, to hundreds of thousands of undocumented people coming into the United States.”

The push to help Americans see the impending danger from the administration’s radical change of course came at the same time Trump voiced his anger and concern about the effects of these extreme policies, which favor non-citizens over Americans.

“The spiraling tsunami at the border is overwhelming local communities, depleting budgets, crowding hospitals, and taking jobs from legal American workers,” the former President said. “When I left office, we had achieved the most secure border in our country’s history. Under Biden, it will soon be worse, more dangerous and more out of control than ever before. He has violated his oath of office to uphold our Constitution and enforce our laws.”

Trump continued, saying “Our border is now totally out of control thanks to the disastrous leadership of Joe Biden. Our great Border Patrol and ICE agents have been disrespected, demeaned, and mocked by the Biden administration. A mass incursion into the country by people who should not be here is happening on an hourly basis, getting worse by the minute.”

Bill O’Reilly has been one of the most vocal news personalities informing the country about the crisis in recent days, pointing out what many see as the resulting deleterious effect on America’s economy and neighborhoods. His urgency stems from the media’s common suppression tactic of hiding negative impacts of the policies of their protected class of Democrat politicians. He adds, “nobody will know, because the media blacks it out.”

The way O’Reilly sees it, there are three developing trends that will eventually combine to crush Biden’s approval ratings and turn public opinion decisively against him.

“The economy, and you’re seeing a shaky stock market now. Immigration, and cancel culture,” O’Reilly listed as the big three areas where Americans are beginning to feel the negative effects of radical Democratic policy shifts. “Those three things are going to undermine his administration. But here’s the really frightening part about it – if you, and me, and Stu were talking to President Biden right now he could not explain, and does not know, what is happening on that border. He does not have the capacity, in my humble opinion, to absorb information and analyze anything.”

In Bill O’Reilly’s opinion, the honeymoon is over. National chaos and pain are only beginning to kick in. Even if the media refuses to share the facts.

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BNM Writers

Winterble, Daugherty Discuss Dr. Seuss, Cancel Culture

“We lost a battle for sure,” Daugherty said. “Did we lose the war? I don’t know. I hope to heck not.”

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Photo by Evelyn Giggles CC BY 2.0.

After moving from the San Diego to Charlotte market last year, radio host Brett Winterble has quickly learned that the best way to attract listeners in the Tar Heel state is to forge a connection with college basketball. That’s why former North Carolina Tar Heel basketball coach Matt Daugherty is a frequent quest on The Brett Wintertble Show which airs on WBT AM in Charlotte. Daugherty was in studio again on Thursday, and while the pair did touch on sports topics, the main part of their conversation was devoted to Dr. Seuss and cancel culture in general.

”You look like a guy who read Dr. Seuss as a kid,” Winterble said to Daughtery. “My favorites growing up were, One Fish, Two Fish and of course the classic, Green Eggs and Ham. I read them and my kids read them, but now all of a sudden, they are too dangerous. Dr. Seuss has been banned. Our glorious monarch, King Joe Biden I has decreed that Dr. Seuss cannot be read at a celebration of Dr. Seuss Day. Five weeks ago they were just fine, but now they are too dangerous to even be sold on Ebay? What in the world is going on? Have we as conservatives lost the war?”

Winterble’s comments come after six of Theodor Geisel’s works are no longer going to be published due to racial stereotypes. Geisel wrote more than 60 other books under his popular pseudonym Dr. Seuss which will still remain in print, but that does not stop Winterble and Daugherty from claiming Dr. Seuss is a victim of cancel culture.

“We lost a battle for sure,” Daugherty said. “Did we lose the war? I don’t know. I hope to heck not.”

Winterble makes the comparison to other items sold on Ebay, but yet six Dr. Seuss books are banned.

“You can go on there and buy a poster of a certain political leader that ruled Germany in the 30’s and 40’s (Hitler), but Dr. Seuss is too dangerous? You can go on there and buy polyurethane items that should only be used in the hushed tones of the bedroom and yet people find Dr. Seuss objectionable? What’s next?”

Daugherty worries that cancel culture will eventually cross over into the world of sports.

“I think we will eventually start erasing players from the Hall of Fames,” he said. “Now of course, there were some scoundrels, particularly in baseball, but you can’t just erase that history. You can learn from it, but you can’t remove it.”

“I love working with young people,” Daugherty continued. “I always tell them to stand up for what you believe in, but to be a good leader, you also have to be able to listen. It seems we have lost that art of debate. We see plenty of argument, but people rarely make a point and then take the time to listen to the other side. If you can do that, you learn something. A lot of it has to do with dialogue happening over social media instead of face-to-face. 50 percent of communication is body language. You can’t see that on Twitter. It’s so much easier to cancel someone or throw out zingers if you can’t look them in the eye and see how much it hurts them.”

Winterble agrees and also urges open discussion if something is considered offensive or harmful.

“People have their identity so wrapped up in whatever issue it is, that when someone attacks the issue, it feels like they are attacking the person. There is some value in all of these things (like the Dr. Seuss controversy), but the default position should not be to rage quit and erase everything.”

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