That joyful noise comes from a highly-regarded talk radio veteran. His math: Traditional post-election drop in talk listenership + Arrival of all-Christmas formats x Weariness with heated rhetoric = Lower ratings.
And what if President Obama is re-elected? Will the ratings bounce back in 2013 on the strength of more conservative ranting and hand-wringing? Maybe. But as I first noted almost three years ago in this space, the story of The American Spectator offers a cautionary tale. That conservative magazine rose to prominence during President Clinton‘s first term when it established itself as the loudest and most outrageous critic of Bill and Hill. But then Clinton got re-elected. Slowly but steadily from that point American Spectator slid into irrelevance and impotence.
As Reason.com put it back in 2009:
“After two years of muckraking anti-Clinton journalism, The American Spectator went from 30,000 subscribers to 300,000. As Clinton proved to be a Teflon president, the mania deepened and the magazine accused Clinton of murder, drug smuggling, and cheating at golf. In the end, its star investigative journalist converted to liberalism, those remaining defected to other conservative publications, the magazine collapsed and was relaunched as a technology publication, and the Clinton administration barreled forward. Glenn Beck might pull 2.5 million viewers a day, WorldNetDaily might be clocking 2 million unique visitors a month—impressive, if slightly frightening, numbers—but they would be advised to remember the Spectator.”
If the President is re-elected I suspect most conservative talkers will simply double down on their current anti-Obama hands. That might work for the biggest of the big boys, but for most local hosts it’s a short-sighted play. It’s hard to imagine anti-Obama sentiment growing any hotter, wider or deeper in a second term. But it is easy to believe that a large number of people who dislike the President will simply shrug their shoulders in resignation and move on with their lives. The result: a (ratings) recession that can be blamed on Obama — one I’m sure he’d be happy to own.