Where have all the conservative media heroes gone?

Conservative Media Heroes

For those of us who have been engaged in our culture and government since the days of Ronald Reagan, we are sorely disappointed today.  In an era when mass media are more accessible to more people than ever before, we are seeing the decades-old, growing trend of conservative media shriveling up and dying right before our very eyes.

Many pundits and commentators have written, at length, about the damage Donald Trump has inflicted on the Republican Party and potentially, America.  But, one of the other main casualties of Trump’s “alt-right” blitzkrieg has been the wholesale destruction of many formerly trusted conservative media sources and icons.

Now, it is true that there are a number of true conservatives in media who haven’t “bowed the knee” to Trump Tower (Levin, Beck, and Deace come to mind), but the numbers of those people we used to rely upon to tell us the truth about what is really happening in Washington and America has been dramatically reduced over the past year.

We thought we had solid conservatives in our corner, at last.  After almost eight years of the Obama Administration doing all it could to utterly destroy the America we all knew and loved, it felt good to see our ranks swelling in the public arena – at such a time as our message is needed most.  But instead, what has happened is that most of our “leaders” have set people of principle and honor adrift on today’s sea of hypocritical compromise. (Remember, “vote your conscience” got booed at the Republican Convention!)

Yes, I’m speaking here about Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, “Faux” News, The Drudge Report, and Breitbart News. We used to take just about everything these folks and organizations said as “gospel.”  Now, we hear little else other than Politburo-style “Trump slobbering.” This observation is difficult to write about; especially as it pertains to Rush.

As someone who joined the “Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies” way back during the first Gulf War, I credit much of what I know about conservativism and the inside working of Washington to Rush. He was a great teacher and mentor.  I never missed either his radio show or his short-lived TV show.  I got through to talk to him once on the radio show around 1996.  I was in the studio audience of his TV show shortly after Bill Clinton took office in 1993.  I bought both of his books and even drank his iced teas for a while.

Rush pioneered the resistance to the left-wing American media.  He was a bulwark against the lies, fraud, and deceit that came out of both liberal Democrat and RINO Republican mouths.  Yet, when Trump came along, Rush changed.  Maybe it was his extreme dislike of the national media and Trump’s feigned belligerence to it that drew Rush in.  Maybe it was Rush’s understandable revulsion for anything Clinton that drove him into Trump’s waiting arms. Who knows?  I just know I couldn’t believe what I started to hear coming from Rush’s mouth.

At first, he seemed genuinely conflicted as to which candidates to back for President – many eminently qualified in his mind.  He even praised Ted Cruz several times as the leading conservative in the race.  But, after a while, Rush’s “Trump slobbering” increased to the point that I actually began shutting off his show.  He became so “Never Hillary” that he intentionally ignored all of Trump’s inconsistencies, incompetence, and downright lies.

It was as if his conservative principles had suddenly “turned off” in his mind.

Yes, I know Rush has a policy of never endorsing candidates in Primaries, but by the time the Primary season had begun, it was clear that Trump was “his man.”  He allowed Trump and his minions to get away with outrageous attacks on his opponents.  He dismissed the notion that Trump was behaving very un-presidential – this from a man who saw, firsthand in Reagan what a real President looks like.

I even went so far as to post Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech from You Tube on one of Rush’s Facebook posts that was related to make the point.  It was removed by his administrator shortly afterward.

When Rush confessed that, as his show’s anniversary approached, he was considering retiring instead of doing the show that he has owned for almost 30 years, it made me sad to think he has burned himself out and has lost the vision that made him (as I told him when I called in) “the most insightful political commentator since de Tocqueville.”  Yet, such is the destructive nature of “the Trump train.”

O’Reilly didn’t surprise me as much.  I’ve seen the pictures of Trump and him sitting together at sporting events.  They’re both from New York City and around the same age. Neither is really conservative.  I liked O’Reilly very much when he began with “The Factor” on Fox News back in the late 90s.  But, over the years, it became apparent O’Reilly was in it for the ratings, the money, and the ego – just like Trump.  I tuned O’Reilly out a number of years ago when the “sleazy puff pieces” became a regular part of his show.  The truth is that he and Trump are really “birds of a feather” – media personalities, not serious cultural observers and conservative activists.

I’d say just about the same for Sean Hannity.  He may not travel in the Trump/O’Reilly social universe, but he has been desperately attempting to repair his image and ratings since his debacle in boasting about Romney’s President “win” in 2012.

I used to like Hannity very much; especially in the beginning when he was going up against insipid liberal – Alan Colmes, but Sean “has fallen and can’t get up” ever since 2012. He obviously saw “the Trump train” as his ticket back to “ratings heaven.”

Every conservative cheered when Ann Coulter was a “pit bull” attack dog snarling after the corruption and hypocrisy of just about everything Obama.  She built a highly successful career as an expose author thanks to Barry Soetoro!  But, Coulter was one of the first to go public with her “Trump-slobbering.”

Now, after her religiously and nationalistically blasphemous book – entitled In Trump We Trust – is ready to tank, thanks to Trump’s flip flop on immigration, Coulter is destined to fade to the “bargain rack” section of the discount book stores.

I could go on and on – describing the tainting of Andrew Breitbart’s vision; the tragic deception of Drudge; and the seamy under belly of Ailes’ “Faux News”, but the point is made.

Many of our conservative media heroes have been exposed as either jaded or outright frauds.  Not to end this conversation without hope, perhaps this “fall from conservative grace” by so many is a great opportunity in the making.

Maybe it is time for a new generation to take the reins?

Maybe Elijah is passing on his mantle to a next-generation Elisha who will take conservative media to heights never dreamed about before?  Perhaps this great “falling away” is an opportunity for a new class to graduate from the “Limbaugh Institute of Advanced Conservative Studies” and rebuild the movement and America in the process.

It begins with the simple unvarnished “truth and nothing but the truth.”

Our only agenda must be to promote Constitutional, free market principles and the Judeo-Christian ethical framework which created America in the first place.  If our movement is more concerned about ratings than philosophy and its practical applications, we will fail just like the aforementioned are doing.  But, if we stay true to the great principles of American freedom, we can help America forget the nightmare that was Donald Trump and the potential horrors of Hill and Bill back in the White House again.

So, let’s not mourn the “changing of the guard” for too long.  The future is moving upon us faster than a Clay Matthews’ sack of Colin Kaepernick!

Conservative News Alternative

Russ Hepler

Russ Hepler is a pastor, teacher, political activist, author, and conference speaker with over 30 years of experience. He holds a B.A. from Messiah College and an M.A.R. from Evangelical School of Theology. He has been an issues’ advocate, a campaign volunteer for local, state, and federal candidates, Regional Field Director for PA Christian Coalition, president of a county chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, local Republican Committeeman, and an elected member of a town council. He is also a former and current homeschooler and taught in a Christian school (middle school History and Bible) for a number of years. He was formerly a blog writer for The Federalist Papers Project with over 900 articles published. He has been a guest on the American Family Radio program Today’s Issues with Tim Wildmon and on the Bill Martinez Live radio show. One of his sermons – Father’s Day – Where Have All the Heroes Gone? – was featured on the American Pastors’ Network. His first book – Yes! We Can Turn This Nation Around! A Practical Guide for Christian Political Involvement – was published in 2012. It has recently been updated and expanded for 2016 – Yes! We STILL Can Turn This Nation Around! An Updated and Expanded Practical Guide for Christian Political Involvement. Both works are available at Amazon.com. He and his wife, Sherry, have founded Transformation 1202 Ministries to educate, encourage, and challenge people of faith to get involved in the political and cultural issues of our day. The ministry has a website, a blog, and a Facebook page: Turn This Nation Around.

  1. Great points, I feel the same though dismissed Rush long ago like the others, all about the ” money” and not helping our country.

  2. Would tend to agree on all points, although I’ve never liked Sean Hannity at all. Rush Limbaugh, really even from the beginning, i’ve viewed as entertainment. Yes, of course, he has always espoused conservative principles, and even with Trump, he has flat said he’s not a conservative. I have flat heard Rush almost beg a caller to “believe” or “understand” how bad a Clinton Presidency would be. I believe it is a case of being so focused on the “enemy” as to not keep your own house clean. …which is a trap that anyone can easily fall into.

    I still do listen to Rush on lunch breaks when I can, more for entertainment, as I mentioned than anything. All of the others you listed, I hung up very early in the primary process. …Ann Coulter I hung up well before the primaries with her sacrifice of abortion principles for the sake of the “one issue that only matters”, immigration.

  3. I agree about the personalities who abandoned conservatism for Trump, although Fox News did not do so – it was their opinion “journalists” mentioned above who did.

    Rush seemed to go off the reservation even before Trump. He was just getting weird and paranoid the last few years – sort of like his fellow Floridian Drudge.

    I always found Hannity boring, but it was because he did such a good job of sticking tightly to conservatism. If you didn’t know conservatism, Hannity was good to watch. But, this year, he accorded Trump way too much deference before Trump had sewn up the nomination. It was painful to go to a Cruz rally where the old Hannity spoke, and then see him the same day shilling for Trump. Hannity has lost it, and has lost my respect.

    Breitbart is a huge disappointment. I don’t think its namesake would have become shills for Trump – Breitbart himself was a thoughtful conservative.

    All of that said, Trump is now the Republican nominee and I expect to vote for him. Not because he is a true conservative, but because I judge him less dangerous to conservatism, at this point, than Hillary. I think Trump has done most of the damage he will do, and if elected, will be constrained both by the Republican Party and a viciously hostile media. Hillary will destroy conservatism by her Supreme Court picks, and also no doubt by continuing Obama’s approach of legislating from the executive. She, of course, will face a fawning, servile media.

  4. Russ, that’s how I see it as well. I was heart broken when Limbaugh began ignoring Trump’s obvious deficiencies. I was frustrated that at the very moment the candidate, Ted Cruz, appeared on the scene, the one that Limbaugh had yearned for and pined for at least two decades, Rush coldly turned his back on him. I was stunned and then realized that the conservative movement had lost its voice (its nerve?) at the crucial hour. Like everyone, I’v bemoaned the reality of our situation but I am determined to kept my candles lit for the cause.

    Perhaps the strong intellect and sharp tongue of Ben Shapiro can fill part of the void. We’ve seen a big shift to Mark Levin; his three hours plus his TV show are can’t miss items on my calendar. Reagan faced rejection and uncertainty after the loss to Ford in 1978. But, he kept the faith and showed the grit and determination to never quit to prove our conservatives principles and values are the only solution that works. Maybe the world has to take a major beatdown to learn its lesson. It is nothing that we hope for or want, but we want people to live free and make their own choices in life. We cannot quit until that day arrives again.

  5. So do you want Hillary Clinton to be President? Like it or not, right now the USA is a TWO PARTY system. It is going to be Trump or Clinton.
    Would you rather have a 5-1-3 or 6-1-2 extreme far left Supreme Court? Because that is what we will have when you help Hillary become President. You, Beck, Levin and anyone else that are neverTrumpers just because your candidate of choice lost in the primaries are helping to ensure the final destruction of this nation as a free nation.

    1. To the Brave Soul Who Hides Behind Digital Anonymity:

      Trump Air. Trump Mortgage. Trump University. I will not be voting for Hillary, but the argument that Trump, a man who was born into a real estate empire and who has failed monumentally at everything he’s ever attempted outside of real estate and entertainment, can do better running a country than running anything else he’s attempted to “make great again” is laughable. His recently stated plans to dramatically increase the national debt combined with his July claims of adding more names to his SCOTUS list should give every American pause if they believe he’ll really nominate conservative justices. He’s a deal-maker. If the Democrats gain control of the Senate, he will absolutely, positively NOT nominate any of the conservatives on his public list. Just as Reagan gave us Kennedy, Trump will give us a left-of-center justice for the sake of making a deal. That’s 100% guaranteed. The only way to protect the Supreme Court is to keep control of the Senate and add conservatives to its ranks.

  6. JD Rucker. Sadly, you don’t discuss who to vote for in the presidential general election.

    I will vote for Trump, based on what I know currently. Since he is the nominee of the only party that has a chance of helping the country, the constant trashing of him, like you are doing, does not help us. I get that you don’t like him. Hey, he isn’t my first choice – I voted for Cruz.

    But it’s time to stop ranting and wailing about Trump. He is what he is.

    BTW, I do not agree with everything you say. He has not failed at everything he tried. He is quite wealthy, and he did not inherit over 1% of that wealth. Hillary, on the other hand, has failed at everything other than gaining power.

    So, vote for Trump, and please, stop knocking him.

    Is there anything at all constructive that can come from constantly cutting the man down?

    Yes, if you are for Hillary. Otherwise, nope.

    1. Mesocyclone, this week we’ve seen a crystal clear example of why it’s important to keep “cutting the man down,” as you put it. He must be called to address all issues and he must be made aware that when his natural tendency to lurch left overcomes him, that we won’t sit back and say, “at least he’s better than Hillary.” If you watched his Hannity town hall, you’ll see that he push polled the audience 8 times on softening immigration. At first, very few in the audience were supportive of his softening. By #8, there were only a handful of individuals who he hadn’t yanked to the left. You ask me to be more like Hannity, sitting back and agreeing with him, not “knocking him” all the time as I do. If it weren’t for the voices of conservatives screaming “NO” about his immigration softening, it’s a certainty that his speech yesterday would have been completely different.

      The biggest problem with those who are against people being “Never Trump” is that they haven’t been watching Trump very closely. He’s not affected as much by praise as he is by criticism. If he is to be President, he will need to earn votes. Right now, there are enough people who are telling him through their undying support that they will vote for him no matter how liberal and destructive he acts because he’s not Hillary. Those of you in the Getalong Gang are his liberal policy enablers. I’ve been very clear that when he is wrong, he’s wrong. When he’s right, I tell NeverTrumpers to acknowledge it. For example, just this morning I Tweeted this: https://twitter.com/JDRucker/status/771334555286507520

      Sadly, his supporters who make the claim that there is nothing “at all constructive that can come from constantly cutting him down” and that doing so supports Hillary probably believe that he saw the light about his flawed leftward push for amnesty a few days because of their blind support.

    1. If what you took from those comments is that I was ranting about Trump University, then it’s understandable why you’re not buying it. You’ve already been sold by a much better salesperson. Embrace big government, increased national debt, and demonstrably ineffective leadership for your party. I won’t participate in the GOP’s plummet into progressive authoritarianism.

  7. I completely agree with your post. My feelings about Rush are also the most painful for me. I was conflicted about him for several months, until I finally had to face the truth – Rush was not being honest with me anymore, and it was time to say goodbye. There are plenty of new and rising voices out here that I listen to now. Levin isn’t new, but he is my touch stone. Buck Sexton, Dana Loesch, Glenn Beck, Steve Deace, and many other local hosts around the country are speaking the truth, and they are grabbing the torch from those who have fallen and running with it. Don’t look back long. We must keep going forward and leave those who chose darkness to find their own way out.

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