Politico‘s Ken Vogel popped up the other day on the first episode of the ongoing Keith Olbermann saga, this one debuting on Al Gore’s Current TV. You know, the network so hard to find even liberals can’t summon it on their basic cable package.
As the Daily Caller‘s Jeff Poor correctly notes:
Writing a piece highly critical of conservative talk radio hosts like Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh, then taking that message to the debut of Keith Olbermann’s reincarnation on former Vice President Al Gore’s Current TV doesn’t give yourself away as a lefty — but it certainly doesn’t help with one’s perception of objectivity.
Mr. Poor has a gift for understatement, but he has certainly nailed this. Notice this is the first show Olbermann has done on Current, yet Vogel begins by saying “great to be back with you.” Since it’s safe to say Olbermann didn’t make it a practice to have conservatives on his old MSNBC show, there is surely only one reason Vogel is sitting there: his chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling story that pretends there is — horror! scandal! — in the idea that the Heritage Foundation and others (Americans for Prosperity) have been advertising on the Limbaugh, Levin and Sean Hannity shows.
The so-called “pay to play” story was as phony as the proverbial three dollar bill.
Even Olbermann asked if there was anything amiss here, to which Vogel responds in the negative unless this happened, that happened, or maybe could happen if someone thought to make it happen and… well, you get the idea. The entire Vogel story is a Class A exhibit of liberalism masquerading as news, in this case an attempt to discredit Limbaugh, Levin and Hannity. The notion that Rush Limbaugh, who was conservative long before meeting up with the Heritage Foundation, has somehow suddenly been bought by Heritage would be outrageous if it weren’t in fact hysterically laughable on its face.
Mark Levin took a moment to answer Vogel himself on his Facebook page. Levin details the operation of conservative talk radio, crisply dissects Vogel’s pretense-to-objectivity and that of Politico and concludes by saying:
Kenneth Vogel’s unprofessionalism and ideologically-driven writing would be better practiced on an avowedly left-wing site. That would demonstrate some integrity. Instead, he and his employer continue their ruse.
But there’s more here.
As Rush Limbaugh’s listeners are aware, Rush the tea drinker has just come out with his very own brand of iced tea, Two If By Tea. As his listeners are also well aware — because Rush said it on the air — Rush bought and paid for the full advertising rate on his own show to advertise Two If By Tea.
Now think about this. Why would Rush do something like this? First, he obviously wants to sell Two If By Tea. So he goes to the most popular talk radio show to sell his product — his own show.
But Rush also understood something else, a vital something else. Rush has a bond with his listeners. They trust him. This is no small thing. One of the reasons for Rush’s success is that millions of Americans had long since realized the liberal media played games with their audience — pretending to objectivity when in fact they were selling liberalism on their news shows and in their print publications from dawn ’til dusk. The bond of trust that once obtained in the days when Walter Cronkite reigned had long since been broken — and as technology and the world moved on, Rush Limbaugh effectively took Cronkite’s place as “the most trusted man in America.” (Cronkite turned out to be a liberal — another story, another time.)
The point here is that Rush Limbaugh knew that were he to sell Two If By Tea he was doing more than selling tea. If he were to sell Two If By Tea on his own show he had to be honest with his audience and tell them the truth: he was paying the full price to advertise. Just like every other advertiser on his show.
Just like — yes — The Heritage Foundation. And as anyone who has listened to Rush — or radio in any fashion — well knows, the medium is about the sound of the human voice. Contrary to the impression Vogel tried to leave, there is not the slightest doubt that the ads for The Heritage Foundation — just like the ads for Two If By Tea or Carbonite or Lifelock and so on — are ads. As a listener myself I have no doubts whatsoever when Rush is doing what every radio announcer in America does — reading an ad for a sponsor. It is crystal clear. To imply that there is some shadowy thing going on — as the Vogel appearance on the Olbermann show vividly demonstrates — only underlines how the promotion of the liberal-agenda-as-news actually works.
Which is why Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity and their talk brethren are so successful. And, by the way, a source close to Heritage confirms that as a result of its ads on the Limbaugh show its membership has skyrocketed by the hundreds of thousands. And Rush’s Two If By Tea has grossed over a million in sales in a mere two days. No wonder Rush wants to advertise his own tea on his own show!
One last thing, speaking of Hannity. Checking with talk radio sources, I have learned something that shouldn’t have to be said but under the circumstances is probably necessary.
Sean Hannity — gasp! — turns down advertisers! Which is to say — money. And lots of it. Millions and millions of dollars. Why? Because — hello? — Sean Hannity is not about to have an advertiser on his show that reflects badly on the show itself, on Sean Hannity — and because he believes, again no surprise to listeners, that he has a certain bond of trust with his listeners. Hannity is a passionate conservative — and it is more than safe to say that he believes passionately in The Heritage Foundation and what it does every single day. And so — he accepts their ads, which are very clearly ads if one actually spends time listening to the Sean Hannity Show.
And one can surely believe that neither Limbaugh nor Levin are going to accept certain ads for exactly the same reason: they refuse to jeopardize their bond of trust with listeners.
This last gasp of the latest attempt from liberal land to attack talk radio drew its fitting last breath on Keith Olbermann’s new Current TV show — a network even liberals can’t find on their basic Comcast package. Comcast — the new owners of MSNBC.
Update: Video added.