Rush Limbaugh, always looking for the next opportunity to stroke his favorite erogenous zone, his ego, claimed in Tuesday’s show that he and his syndicator, EIB Network, have created more jobs than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama combined. Here’s the transcript:
But at no time when we started the EIB Network did anybody say that our purpose here is to create jobs in radio. We were trying to do a good show that attracted an audience so we could charge confiscatory advertising rates — and that’s where it stopped. Now, what’s happened? Since that success, since the EIB Network’s success, look at all the AM radio stations still on the air that probably wouldn’t be. Look at all the conservative talk shows. There has been massive job creation. There has been massive amounts of much new money brought into the business.
We expanded the pie. But not once did any of us say our purpose is to create jobs, but we did, with massive growth. (interruption) Why are you frowning, Snerdley? Is this hard to understand? (interruption) I have created more jobs than Obama and Romney put together — damn right! — and for a longer period, for 23 years. I have a greater record of job creation than Romney or Obama. And in the process of creating all those jobs, I still have mine. I did not cannibalize myself.
Now, let me give you the numbers, folks. These are approximate numbers. In 1988, when this program started, I’ll set the stage for you again. In 1988, which to me seems just like yesterday. It’s a long time ago, almost 24 years ago now. August 1st, 1988. The only cable news network was CNN. That was it. You had CBS, NBC, and ABC. They still had their monopoly 24 years ago. They had a news monopoly. They had a monopoly over what was reported and what wasn’t reported, and they had a monopoly on commentary. You had the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times. USA Today was up and running. You had TIME and Newsweek, US News. That was the major media. Then you had all the local papers. That was it.
At the same time in 1988, there were 200 radio stations in America that were doing talk, and not very many of them were doing conservative talk. Ten years later, less than ten years later, there were 1,200 radio stations doing talk, and at that time the vast majority of them were AM, which everybody was saying was dead in 1988. So now look at it. Now you’ve got 1,200 stations doing talk, which means countless local talk show hosts and jobs. You had countless national talk shows. The vast majority are conservative, but the libs have tried, they have their little shows here and there and their networks here and there. Then you’ve got Fox News, which sprung from the concept of talk radio, particularly Fox primetime.
Not surprisingly, Limbaugh’s claim isn’t true. EIB is the name of the syndicator of Limbaugh’s show. Clear Channel is the parent company. Interestingly, Bain Capital owns Clear Channel. Since Limbaugh has taken the air, radio has changed, and not in a good way. Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which did away with regulations preventing single entities, like Clear Channel, from owning more than 40 stations. Clear Channel now owns at least 850 stations.
With media consolidation came job losses, not jobs. From a PR Newswire Press Release:
A study released today by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) found that the vast majority of major U.S. cities has experienced both layoffs and lower wage growth within the radio profession, associated with the unprecedented consolidation of radio station ownership over the last decade. The study also shows that the job losses in radio impede federal policy mandates to promote localism and diversity in media.
“Consolidation in radio ownership hasn’t just homogenized music formats,” said Jenny Toomey, musician and executive director of the Future of Music Coalition. “It has devastated the broadcast profession and virtually eliminated the ability of radio stations to provide unique coverage of local news, music and community issues. Before the FCC moves forward to further loosen already weak ownership limits, it should understand the impact that deregulation has had on jobs and communities.”
The study’s findings include:
– The combined market share of the top four radio companies in each local market increased by an average of 14.3 percent between 1993 and 2004 across 265 markets. — Cities with higher degrees of radio consolidation had greater job losses among news reporters and broadcast technicians from 1996 to 2003.
– Cities with higher degrees of radio consolidation experienced smaller wage growth for DJs and news reporters from 1996 to 2003.
“This study by FMC once again shows what news professionals know about consolidation of media ownership: It results in fewer newsroom jobs and, as a result, fewer resources devoted to reporting the news,” noted Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper Guild-CWA and vice president of the Communications Workers of America. “No wonder radio news, once the primary source of local news and information, has all but disappeared from the American landscape.”
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 eliminated the cap on the number of radio stations one company, organization, or individual may own nationally, and loosened limits on ownership of stations within a single market. Radio companies claimed ownership limits prevented them from taking advantage of “economies of scale.”
The FMC study on the employment effect of radio consolidation found that, since 1996, as radio companies have consolidated, they have cut costs by centralizing some operations in distant markets, such as on air DJs, programmers, reporters, and engineering or broadcast-technician jobs.
Among the practices the study identified that resulted in layoffs, depressed wage growth, and reduced localism include: “voice tracking,” a practice of using pre-recorded programming that replaces live and local DJs; reduced ability of stations to conduct emergency broadcast warnings; increased use of nationalized music programming; and reduced local news coverage.
“Voice tracking in particular has had a negative impact on employment,” Toomey said, “but, much worse, it creates lasting damage to music communities. With fewer local DJs and programmers, area musicians can’t get on the air and listeners are deprived of local news and music.”
Not only has radio consolidation given us fewer listening options, it’s enabled media companies to run on the cheap, cutting staff at previously existing stations by running the exact same audio (Rush Limbaugh) on 600 stations. Limbaugh may be right in that there were only three major news networks in the US, but before 1996, there were countless local stations, most of them either individually owned or owned by a much smaller companies. Now, even the local stations are owned by a tiny handful of networks.
“Then you had all the local papers,” said Rush, dismissing them as irrelevant. Local papers and local stations were the backbone of an informed citizenship and now they are all but gone.
It is refreshing though, to hear the leader of the Republican party admit that Romney and Bain Capital, Limbaugh’s grandparent company, aren’t job creators. Now if he would only get the facts right about Obama. While it is true that GOP austerity has led to a decrease in public sector jobs, the stimulus helped the private sector make a FULL recovery from the worst of the recession.
Perhaps, though, Limbaugh did create a few jobs. From Limbaugh and his counterparts, rose a whole new industry of fact checkers and out-of-the-mainstream-media sources.