Nope, not true.
But imagine you’re listening to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity on the radio. They do a segment and then go to commercial. When they go to commercial, you know you’re listening to paid advertisements. All good. But then they come back from commercial and begin the next segment. However, unbeknownst to you, you’re still listening to paid advertisements – only, now, the talk radio hosts are pretending that these ads are actual news and opinion segments:
If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.
But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.
That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising.
There’s no problem with any of these talk shows running paid commercials for FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, or the Heritage Foundation. That’s advertising.
However, these shills are hyping as “news” what actually amount to paid advertisements disguised as show segments. They’re intentionally not disclosing to you, the listener, what they believe is newsworthy and what they’ve simply been paid to promote. In a nice blend of astroturf, propaganda, and prostitution of the airwaves, those talkers you love listening to so much are misleading you. Those topics they’re discussing are on the air not because they’re credible or newsworthy, but because the organization effectively paid for the news coverage.
Now before you choose to keep your head in the sand and say that it’s just advertising and it’s all perfectly OK, imagine if Cape Wind paid off NECN for positive news coverage of their environmental/energy initiative. And I don’t mean bought ads during commercials, but rather paid directly for positive news coverage during on air segments. Because that’s what we’re talking about. Buying coverage. Not buying advertising airtime, but buying coverage.
In other words, you have to listen to what Dear Leader tells you to. Happy listening!