Kathy Shaidle has a post on her site (now defunct) about the fact Rush Limbaugh has decided to boycott MSNBC. he will no longer use audio clips from their shows on his show, presumably, address the points they make on their shows. I don’t know what sort of ratings Limbaugh is pulling these days, but I doubt his audience has much of an overlap with the sort of people who watch screamers like Chris Mathews. I’ve tried to watch some of their offerings just for laughs, but it is so over-the-top, I switch off after a few minutes.
Most of their shows are hosted by people who seem to struggling with mental illness or struggling with extreme rage. Mathews always has that look on his face like he just caught a whiff of a bad odor. If I were trying to mock Prog culture I’d create skits like Hardball and characters like the Rachel Maddow, a mentally disturbed lesbian. I suspect a fair bit of their audience is made up of people looking for clips to post on right-wing sites.
The recent cratering of their viewership may suggest the public is growing weary of the left-wing freak show. Five years of Obama has probably satisfied the public interest in the radical Left. This happened at the end of the 1970’s. The press was making fun of Carter and the lefty talk shows were losing audience. Guys like Phil Donahue suddenly found themselves as old geezers talking about yesterday topics. They staggered on into the Reagan years, so it is safe to assume the MSNBC types will stagger on as well.
A theory of mine is these liberal spasm follow the same pattern as the great awakenings, that would feature a religious revival among Protestants. Since the dawn of the Progressive era, this civic religion has occupied the emotional space where old fashioned Christianity used to live for the American radicals. Part of it is the entry of Jews into American Progressivism, but part is due to the waning of Christianity among the intellectual elites in the West. Progressivism is the new faith, but has the same rhythm
These liberal spasms don’t have a defined end or beginning. By the end of the 1970’s, the public had put up with riots, war and stagflation at the hands of ridiculous posers and filthy teenagers. The staggering incompetence of Jimmy Carter was the finishing touch on that liberal spasm. Roughly speaking, the first post-war Progressive Awakening started with John F. Kennedy and ended with the election of Reagan. Maybe the assassination of JFK was the flash point at the start and the impeachment of Nixon was the peak.
maybe this spasm, which seems to have started with the election of Bush over Gore is now peaking with the second term of Obama. It’s hard to know when you’re in it. People in the 1970’s probably thought the Left got their pound of flesh with Nixon’s resignation, but the craziness continued on for five more years. Even with the election of Reagan, the Left never went away. They just went into a slumber where they reformed as this weird racial identity cult built around a hatred for white people. Maybe the end is not near after all.
That’s why it is probably a mistake to look at the TV ratings of lefty chat shows and read too much into it. It could simply be a natural decline that happens when politics is no longer front and center. Maybe the crazies just need to take a break to recharge the batteries, before they launch into a another war on the rest of us. Given the MSNBC is immune from market forces, their ratings are not all that important. Even if they lose all of their advertisers, they will remain on the air as long as they get mandatory cable fees..