Now, it wasn’t immediate, of course, but it has been a long time. It’s not recent. It’s been a long time. By 6:30 in the evening, you know everything you’re going to know that day in the news. There’s nothing you learn turning on the television at 6:30 or 7pm that you can’t know by 12 noon or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter — and it’s been that way for years. When David Brinkley decided to retire we got a stable of replacements for some of their time-honored reporters. We got people like Terry Moran at the White House, a veritable milk-drinking little kid, and then we got Jake Tapper. Excuse me? From, what, Salon magazine?! An Internet magazine that nobody ever read. We stopped getting people in the networks that had worked their way up through affiliates and local stations and had established credentials as journalists.
We started getting young punks, kids, to go out and relate to this 18-to-24-year-old demographic and to hell with journalistic standards, credentials and experience. When George Stephanopoulos was given the job of This Week with whoever on ABC, that, to me, if you really want to trace when the networks admitted that the way they used to do it couldn’t be done anymore, that is the day that I think signaled the end. But it’s been a steady erosion. They’ve been losing audience since 1985 on the network newscasts. Dan Rather finished third last night. Big deal. Nothing new about that. He’s been third for 10 years or more. The idea that this somehow is this big a story is just, to me it tells me how much people want to hold onto the past, some people, and at the same time tells me just how unaware some people are of what’s happening around them.
And that’s all to our benefit because it continues to allow people like me and others to sneak up on everybody, because they’re still holding onto these great traditions of the past and they are that: they’re great, and they are traditions, and there was a Golden Age at one time for those, but it’s not now, and this does not signal the end of it. The end of the Golden Age began a long, long, long time ago when it came to television. Hell, look at your local TV news. When you were growing up do you remember your local TV news actually meaning something to you? You watch your local TV news today and it’s nothing but traffic, weather, car crashes, and as much blood and guts as they can squeeze in there. (program observer interruption) Feature reports on what? What traffic jams are going to be tomorrow and how you can avoid them? How to find love? Sure.
I’m going to tell you something. Let me tell you, the thing that has changed — allow me, my friends, as an expert, and a highly trained broadcast specialist — the thing that has changed television, and it has changed, television news, national and local — the thing that has changed it, and the thing that has been more responsible for changing it than anything else, is radio. This is the Golden Age of Radio. They say the Golden Age of Radio was back in the ’30s and ’40s before TV was invented and I’m not going to deny that was a great era. But back then, all there was radio. You really had no choice. Then TV came along and of course that signaled the end of radio, and hello television. Now, it is radio that is being imitated on TV. It is radio that is being blamed by Democratic presidential candidates for their defeats. Thank you, John Kerry, for once again doing that. It is radio that is determining much of what is happening to TV today, and this is something that nobody in TV, of course, wants to admit so you never hear this in their mix.
The New York Times today has an interesting take on the Dan Rather step-down, if you will: “Two Anchormen Down. One More to Go?” And I don’t want to read the whole story to you. Just one element of it, and an observation. They talk about how Jennings is hoping that with Brokaw flying the coop and Rather flying the coop that everybody is going to watch World News Tonight so they’ve decided to come up with a new promo campaign to make Jennings more appealing. I’m just going to read to you what it says here. This is Alessandra Stanley, writing in the New York Times: “Since the summer, ABC has tried to recast the somewhat brittle, urbane Mr. Jennings as warm and caring. Mr. Jennings says softly in a misty promotional ad that makes him out to be a kind of social worker. ‘I get up every day thinking that something is going to happen in the world that I didn’t know about yesterday, and I have the opportunity to help people understand what it means.'” (sighing)
They will never learn. They will never learn. “I get up every day thinking…” and this is supposed to make him less brittle and less urbane? “I get up every day thinking…” What’s wrong with this? They wrote this. They wanted this to be said. They put these words in Jennings’ mouth. I ask you people: What’s wrong with this? “I get up every day thinking that something is going to happen in the world that I didn’t know about yesterday, and I have the opportunity to help people understand what it means.” Mr. Snerdley says, “We don’t need his help to understand the news.” You’ve just nailed it, Mr. Snerdley. He’s supposed to tell us what happened yesterday that we didn’t know that he now knows. He’s supposed to tell us what happened.
But this added touch, what it all means, you see, that’s where these people still are stuck in the trouble that they’re in and don’t understand it — and I dare say I think that network newscasts have become more a curiosity factor than they’ve ever been. If I ever watched the network news, do you know why I watch it now? Can I be honest? Not because I need them to tell things to me that I don’t understand. I watch them to see how they’re going to spin things so that the people who do watch will not understand what it really means. I want to watch the spin. I get more thrills watching them spin events that I already know about, so that their viewers will not know what it means than I get anything out of watching it to learn something I didn’t know.
That’s the whole point. They can’t tell us what we don’t know anymore because we all know it by 6:30, except for the, you know, there’s a group of people that hasn’t gotten into the new cable revolution and Internet and all that. They’re out there and the network news is still for them, but that’s a dwindling and dwindling number. This is in parentheses in the story. “(Mr. Jennings undercut that image in Boston last July with a remark aimed at Mr. Brokaw, saying his broadcast rival viewed the Democratic political convention ‘as a social occasion.’)” Rather than a hard news event, Brokaw viewed it as a social occasion. Another dirty little secret uncovered. They all look at all of these things as social occasions.
They all live in Manhattan and they all go out to the Hamptons and if they don’t stop there, they go to Martha’s Vineyard and they claim they leave New York to get away from the hustle and bustle, but the same group goes everywhere and they party and socialize with the same group. Wherever the Democrats go, that’s where you’ll find the anchors — and that’s why they’re thinking of sending foreign correspondents into the red states. That’s why I got such a thrill when they all had to go to Arkansas for the Clinton Library. Oh, and folks! Some people have dug deep and found out a lot of the people who are paying big money to support the Clinton Library and Massage Parlor — I don’t have the story right in front of me, it’s coming up but I’m not willing to say a majority, but so much of the money is Arab.
You will be surprised at this. Now, I told you. Now, you shouldn’t be surprised at some of it because I mentioned to you sometime this year when a lot of things happened during this heated campaign, and, you know, one of the charges against Bush was he’s in bed with the Saudi royal family. I said, “Folks, every modern president in the modern era has his presidential library contributed to in great part by the Saudi government. They all do. That explains the tie.” I think it goes back to Eisenhower, to tell you the truth. It may even go further than that, but certainly Eisenhower. There just has been this link. Make of it what you want. I’m just giving you information. I’m not telling you what to think about it, and I’m not trying to tell you here what you should understand about it. I’m just passing the information along to you.
This New York Times story, it’s a front page story on the Rather resignation, has a subtext to it, and that is that this is all because of his flagrant anti-Bush obsession, which I find amazing for the Times to even reference in subtext fashion because in the same story they ignore their own anti-Bush hatred, which was palpable and which was constant and in which they worked with CBS on a couple of stories. But somehow that connection isn’t mentioned in this story on Dan Rather’s demise. So not just CBS cutting Rather loose, but so is little “Pinch” Sulzberger and the editorial crowd at the New York Times. Just waving him good-bye, cutting him loose and saying, “So long. Sayonara.” John, Fort Riley, Kansas, you’re up first today on the phones. Great to have you with us, sir.
CALLER: Rush, military broadcast dittos to you. I’ve listened to you since 1989 and, sir, this is an honor to talk to you.
RUSH: That you, sir, very much. I appreciate that.
CALLER: I have a question. Do you think that CBS could repair their credibility damage and bring in listeners in the red states if they hired a conservative as their news anchor?
RUSH: No. Well, no, wait. I’m sorry, I’m answering the wrong question. They will never do it.
CALLER: You don’t think they could bring a Brit Hume in or somebody like that with credibility with the big three networks and put him as the anchor and maybe take people away from Fox and the red states that have watched Fox News?
RUSH: I’m going to tell you what would happen. I’ll tell you exactly what would happen. Let’s just use Brit Hume as an example. Let’s say that they offered Brit Hume the gig, and let’s say Brit Hume accepted it. If Brit Hume went over there and accepted it, he would be the recipient of so many knives in the back by everybody else in the news division. This is an institutional problem that exists in the networks. There’s not one individual in the anchor chair, especially, that’s going to change this. It’s just like no conservative reporter or columnist changes the focus of a liberal newspaper. This is another thing about the anchor. The anchor, in Britain they call them presenters, and that’s what they are, and that’s what the anchors here are. There’s this great illusion that these guys are out there reporting stories every day.
CALLER: Well, it’s like you said a long time ago, Rush. There’s two different types of people. Reporters report the news. Journalists put themselves in the middle of the story and we have too many journalists and not enough reporters these days.
RUSH: That’s a good way of putting it. It really is. But you’ve got — I mean Mary Mapes is not the only Mary Mapes at CBS, for example. I mean, if they really are serious about this, they’re going to have to clean house. One person in the anchor chair is not going to, at all, change — because the anchor is not, even if they name him managing editor — he’s not going to be in charge of the reporting that goes on and the stories he reports. He may try but he’ll be stabbed in the back so many times that it will be a pointless exercise. You know, a lot of people say, “Look, they all do the same things. Why don’t one of these networks chart a new course?” Well, look, there is a network that’s done that. It’s the Fox News Channel. Look what all the institutionally liberal networks think of it. “It’s phony! It’s fake! It’s fraudulent. It’s McNews or not news,” or what have you. You have to understand, liberalism is a religion. It is an institution. It is not something that people who hold it will abandon, particularly now. So that’s why many people are suggesting in the e-mail, by the way, that I should be named anchor at CBS News.
You talk about taking me out of a realm of dominant influence and putting me somewhere where I don’t matter, and a pay cut, you put me in an anchor chair at one of the networks. If you want to send me into instant irrelevance, and if you want to make me poor, then you send me to an anchor chair at one of the networks. Compared to what I have as an opportunity here to what is presented in 30 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever it is, in the anchor chair at one of the networks. It’s mythology that supports all this. It’s mythology that’s dying. It’s this great mythology that there is still some terrific relevance. It’s like on Election Night we couldn’t call Ohio because the networks wouldn’t call it. Well, we all knew who won Ohio. NBC and Fox went ahead and did it, but the Kerry people got on the phone and they stopped CNN and CBS and ABC from making the call, and of course this is the kind of thing that feeds the notion the networks are all-powerful, and the networks believe the presidential race is not over till they make the call. There’s not one vote counted by the networks. So all the networks can do is screw things up like they did in 2000 by prematurely calling Florida. But this is why this mythology of power and dominance still reins supreme and exists, when it’s not. I mean, they’ve lost it but they’re the people with the power. They’re the last to admit it and the last to recognize it, and in the process, they’re still holding onto their traditions and what’s comfortable to them. Change is new and new is hard, and they’re just not yet ready to do any of that quick folks.