RUSH: Here’s Bob Gibbs, the former White House press secretary. He was on This Week on ABC. Before I play the bite, I want to share something with you, just an observation. You know when Tim Russert ran Meet the Press, that show was the number one Sunday morning show year after year after year, and it continued to build on its lead. CBS’ Face the Nation was a distant third place. It was a half hour show. It was run by Bob Schieffer. Before Bob Schieffer had it, Lesley Stahl did it. The ABC show with Brinkley, a relatively high number two when Brinkley ran it and for a little while after that, but it didn’t matter. When Russert was at Meet the Press, it was the top dog, and it wasn’t even close, for years. Well, sadly, Russert passed away. David Gregory is now running Meet the Press and they’re no longer that big number one.
The number one Sunday morning show is CBS, Face the Nation. As a ranking member of the broadcast community, I study the media business. There are things that happen in this business that just defy any logic, particularly if you go back just 20 years or further, and when I started in 1967. For example, CNN. Now, the president of CNN finally threw in the towel. Jim Walton is finally quitting. He says, the place needs new thinking. But look how long CNN has been comfortable sitting there with no viewers. That’s something that would not be tolerated just 20 years ago. But now it’s almost like there’s a badge of honor. As long as you stay true to the cause, it doesn’t matter. They found a way to monetize it using CNN International so they were able to show a profit on CNN. And, by the way, a bunch of little media buyers sitting in the basements of these advertising agencies are very astute, and they’ll send advertising to CNN whether it makes any sense or not, simply to be loyal. Liberals protecting liberals. And don’t doubt me on this; it happens.
But still, sitting there with 125,000 viewers max, and then they say, “We get it. We’re gonna be making changes here,” and they try to portray themselves as passive-aggressive liberals. You got MSNBC over there, which they are full-boat insane liberal and proud of it, and act that way. CNN tried to tell everybody that well, yeah, we’re liberal, but we don’t do liberalism here. We are objective. We’re what journalism should always be. We’re objective. We don’t have any opinions here. And they mean it when they say that. And then they intro a piece on Sarah Palin and they use as their bumper a song called Stupid Girls. This is after Jim Walton quit saying the place needs new thinking. This is the kind of stuff 20 years ago people that ran these outfits wouldn’t put up with it.
You go back to NBC. They have lost the lead in the Sunday morning franchise, Meet the Press. They owned it. From a financial standpoint, from a prestige standpoint. And now they’ve lost it to a guy who was in third place. And the guy who’s in third place didn’t do anything to gain any ground. He didn’t change what he was doing, Bob Schieffer. They only just recently went to an hour, if it’s even official. Bob Schieffer just sat there, continued to be Bob Schieffer and so forth. They didn’t do anything spectacular. What happened was NBC backed up to the field, Meet the Press backed up to the field. I don’t know. The way success is measured in this business is pretty standard and hasn’t changed. And there are two basic ways. You measure it with ratings and revenue. And the two generally are combined. They go hand in hand.
Now, in some cases you’re able to get by with less or little revenue. If somewhere else in the division is making up what you’re losing, then you can say, okay, we’ll stay true to the cause. But that’s not happening here. I just sit here and I scratch my head at this. And I think, folks, it’s just a sign of how continually broken our political media complex is. It is purely partisan. It’s entirely, 100% agenda-driven, and, as such, the agenda matters more. You got a bunch of liberals in there, doesn’t it make sense the agenda would matter more than profit? That agenda would matter more than the business aspects of it?
Now, the New York Times, look at them. The New York Times is losing pages, losing ad revenue, losing money, but the family controls the shares. There’s nothing anybody can do about it. They’re looking for a new CEO at the New York Times, but it doesn’t matter ’cause whoever they hire the paper is still gonna be run by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Little Pinch. So the CEO is a position that they have to have to satisfy Wall Street investors, but the CEO really doesn’t have any power there. The Sulzberger family does. And the current scion running the place is running it into the ground. Now, for that to happen, the New York Times has to be driving away its own readers, ’cause they only appeal to the hard-core fringe, Upper West Side left.
They have to be driving away their own people. It’s not as though conservatives all of a sudden woke up and got tired of reading the drivel that’s in the New York Times. And yet they’re hunkering down and staying true to the cause, to the agenda, which is different than the way it used to be. I think they got all these media people, even though the monopoly essentially was busted up in the mid-nineties, I still don’t think they’ve adapted. I don’t think they’ve come to grips with the fact that they’re no longer a monopoly and they still want to operate according to these old models, and they end up becoming a laughingstock. I’m gonna make an enemy here, and I don’t really intend to. This is not the point. I saw, at least according to one of the sound bites here, I didn’t see it, but the substitute host for the Sunday ABC show yesterday was a guy named Matthew Dowd. Matthew Dowd is a former on-camera Republican strategist, slash, consultant for the Bushes and the Republican Party. He’s not a media guy. He’s not, by training, a journalist and there he is cohosting.
You know how hard that job used to be to get? They’re putting people in these jobs that ever never done it before, have no talent, are not really journalists. You got all these people in the smaller markets sweating away, slaving, waiting for their big break, make a market jump here, market jump there, finally get noticed and finally get an important network gig and the networks are giving jobs to people that have never done it before. It woulda never happened. It’s stunning. Now, I’m interested in this simply because it’s the business I’m in. Radio’s been doing this for years. What was the shrink’s name in LA that they put on, Dr. what was her name? And then the car guys. They put all these people on who had never, ever been on the radio before. And I said, “Well, that’s it. That’s the end of it.”
It took me 30 years to get higher than market number 20. And here people have never done it before in markets one and two, being hired. Well, I know they’re all gone now. I’m still here, because it is a business, highly trained broadcast specialist and so forth. But when you look at what’s now happening in the so-called news business, they’re bleeding audience and they’re bleeding revenue, and now they’re all watching an HBO show, which is a fantasy, The Newsroom. The West Wing was a fantasy presidency. Now they’re all watching a fantasy news show about a fantasy network and thinking it’s real. And that’s who we’re doing battle with each and every day.
Anyway, here’s Gibbs. A long intro to the Gibbs sound bite. He was on This Week yesterday, and — ah, here it is, fill-in host Matthew Dowd. Nothing against Matthew Dowd, and I don’t want anybody calling him. If you can get the gig, get it. Not his problem he got hired, not his fault. He looks good. I guess that’s what matters. And he might be pretty good. I don’t know. I didn’t watch it. I’m just chronicling how profoundly different it is. There’s no such thing as a professional anymore, at least not highly trained and seasoned and experienced. I think it matters. Anyway, the question for Gibbs, “Are we at a place where the Mitt Romney message is ‘fire him’ and the Obama strategy is ‘don’t hire him,’ and it’s been all negative with no vision of the future?”
GIBBS: Mitt Romney had a strategy during the primaries. He used negative ads to destroy Rick Perry. He used negative ads to destroy Newt Gingrich. He used neglect ads to destroy Rick Santorum. We’re not gonna let him play his tried and true role as prep school bully, we’re gonna certainly respond — and, look, the ad that you mentioned on what the president said, selectively edited, the sentence previous to what you heard the president say is talking about infrastructure and roads and bridges.
RUSH: That’s still gotten under their skin. But, here, I wanted to play this because “he’s a prep school bully.” Here’s Romney, he’s running around attacking all these people, and yet he’s a wimp on the latest cover of Newsweek magazine.
By the way, got a question, asked many times in the e-mail. I was talking an hour ago about the media and why they’re hiring people who have never done it before; why they stick to their agenda when they’re losing money and losing audience; why do they do it and how different the business is. It really is. It really is. I mean, when I moved to New York in 1989, believe me, I knew that if I were gonna succeed, it was gonna have to be real. I was gonna have to have a real audience. I couldn’t have a buzz audience. I couldn’t have an audience everybody talked about and talked about as being big. It was gonna have to be provable, and I wanted it to be. I didn’t go there to become number five. I didn’t go there to become number four. I went there to become number one, and I wanted it to be demonstrated and provable with ratings, audience research. And it is. And it has been since about two years after we started.
Meanwhile, a bunch of programs with one one-hundredth the audience are raved about, and they have buzz about ’em and so it’s thought that they’re bigger, but I didn’t want that kind of phoniness. I didn’t want that kind of artificiality. But I’m looking at it, I’m looking at all these people, you hire David Gregory. Sorry, he’s no Tim Russert. Christiane Amanpour to replace, who was it? I forget who was in there. But that show hasn’t been what it was since Brinkley left. But these people are just filled with their agendas and the stuff that I’ve always used to measure success in this business doesn’t matter to any of them, including money. They seem to think they should be immune to bottom-line concerns. They should be able to have the freedom to operate at whatever loss they incur ’cause their mission is so important.
Anyway, people in the e-mail said, “Rush, why don’t the owners do something about it? I mean, when Jack Welch was CEO of GE when they owned NBC, why didn’t he…” This is actually a good question. “Rush, can’t these people see the success of shows like yours and Fox? Don’t they see what they have to do? What’s so wrong about wanting a conservative audience?” They don’t want a conservative audience ’cause there go the Pulitzers. Folks, they do not want you watching their networks. Twenty years ago a network startup like Fox News woulda had everybody copycatting them and trying to steal their talent and trying to steal their management, and everybody would have wanted a piece of that success. This is what’s amazing, that they don’t want a piece of it. They say it isn’t real. They say it’s illegitimate. They say, “Well, it’s just a bunch of mind-numbed robot conservatives.” It’s amazing.
Do you realize if somebody wanted — and I say this with all seriousness. I know it would never happen, but we have a weekly audience here of anywhere from 20 to 25 million, 12 million in the course of a three-hour program, you think if somebody were serious about increasing their audience for the Nightly News, they might try to do something to get this audience watching it? No way. There is absolutely no way. And it’s not ’cause I’m not a journalist in their definition. No way. They don’t want any part of you watching them. It would be embarrassing. It would be embarrassing for them to have the Fox News audience or the talk radio audience.
Anyway, this question about ownership. Jack Welch is a conservative. Jack Welch knows what the media is doing. Why did he allow NBC to continue to be what it was when it wasn’t what his vision was? The answer to this, folks, you’re not gonna like, but these general managers, these CEOs, and even the owners of these networks are human beings, too, and they know that if they — for example, let’s take CNN, as an example. Let’s say that Jeff Bewkes, who is the Time Warner CEO, hires somebody from Roger Ailes’ staff, says, “I want you to turn CNN into Fox. I want you to do whatever they did over there.” What would happen is that the vast majority of people at CNN would leave and start ripping the hell out of Bewkes off the record.
If Jack Welch had tried to impose on NBC to try to drop some of the liberal bias and just do it straight, just do straight news, just tell us what happened, to hell with what you think about it, just tell us what happened, just do the news, you’d-a had a bunch of people at NBC who would have gone off the record ripping Welch and telling dastardly stories about what it was like to work there and how much it was destroying the sacred trust and the tradition of NBC News, and they don’t want that.
Most people are not like me, folks. Most people care about what’s said about them in the media. The vast majority of people care what other people say about ’em. I had to learn a long time ago to not care. Most people do. And it dominates and governs how they operate and decisions that they make, pure and simple. And, you know, it’s a rocky road. I mean, look at me. Twenty-four years ago, just in the modern era, 24 years ago, I left Sacramento, I went to New York, and I wanted to be most successful radio guy ever. I did not go there to be in politics. I didn’t go there to be involved in politics. I didn’t go there to have any of what’s happened, happen, other than the radio side stuff. Now look. For whatever percentage my reputation has been destroyed among, what, 30, 40% of the country, simply because I have been successful as a conservative. My reputation is mud.
The reputation I’ve got among most people is so far from the truth, I’d-a gone nuts if I cared about it. All I wanted to do was be a radio guy, and I’ve got 30, 40% of the country, totally ruined reputation, simply because I have been successful and effective as a conservative on the radio, pure and simple. Well, I’m just gonna tell you that most people don’t want to happen to them what’s happened to me. Oh, they would love to take what they think the success is and what they think the trappings are. But they don’t want this other stuff, including CEOs and managers and owners, they don’t want this kind of assault on their reputations, their image, and their integrity and all that. They’re not as committed to the cause as somebody like I am. They’re just not. Most people think that they are, and they’re not. Most people care about themselves first, second, third, fourth, fifth all the way down to number 25.
So that’s why there’s general fear of what will be said about people if — I’m using Jack Welch as an example. I could be wrong about him; I don’t know. I’m just using him as an example because he’s a well known CEO who’s obviously conservative who ran the parent company of NBC. But you could say this about Les Moonves who runs CBS. He’s not conservative, but if he were he still wouldn’t change CBS because he doesn’t want what would be said about him by the people that work at the place. You know, you fire Dan Rather and he trashes you, that’s fine because, you know, Rather blew himself up first. But most people don’t want to have happen to them this kind of stuff. So that’s why.
And then these people in the news business, while they’re not witnessing the destruction their own business, they are making it happen. They are bringing it about. And they’re sitting there blaming the Internet, blaming social media, or even they blame conservative talk radio for accusing them of bias, or they blame people at Fox or whatever. But they are personally involved in their own demise, their own success, their own professional demise. It’s just that simple. No more complicated. But that’s why the owners or the CEOs are never gonna try to change ’cause they’re afraid of what will be said about ’em. If you can’t get rid that, then you’re always gonna be a prisoner to what others want you to do, and that’s where they are.