Talk Radio Making it Tougher for Media to ‘Gosnell’ the Big Stories

Posted: May 14, 2013 9:22 AM

The trial of post-birth abortionist Kermit Gosnell got a rare mention on the network news Monday after a Philadelphia jury found him guilty of murder.

Earlier that afternoon, Rush Limbaugh speculated whether it would get even a mention.

“It's going to be very interesting to see if the Drive-Bys (Limbaugh’s affectionate name for the mainstream media) will cover the verdict, given how studiously they have Gosnelled the actual case,” Limbaugh said. “Do you know what to Gosnell is? What is to Gosnell? What does that mean? Gosnelled is the New Media term meaning ignored or aborted with prejudice.”

Perhaps “Gosnelled” the verb will survive in the political lexicon. Until last week, the new term could have applied the Benghazi cover up, another story that the mainstream media had all but ignored until after an emotionally charged congressional hearing with State Department whistleblowers – not partisans – who came forward to correct the story spun by their supervisors on the terrorist murders of four Americans in Libya.

The day of those hearings, Mark Levin blasted the lack of media coverage given to the Obama administration’s Benghazi cover up.

“Shame on the news, such as on it is,” Levin said. “The Pretorian Guard news agencies, you’re a pathetic joke. That’s why the American people cannot stand you.”

Despite the media blackout, or the “Gosnelling,” of these and other stories, the networks are no longer the final gatekeepers of what the American public knows. Talk radio rarely breaks news. There are many journalists outside the MSM finding unreported stories and holding government accountable. What talk radio provides is a megaphone for those stories.

Limbaugh, the long reigning king of talk radio, has 20 million listeners, while Levin, Glenn Beck, Mike Gallagher and others have millions more tuning in. Limbaugh managed to spawn an entire industry since his show became national in 1988 and exploded in the 1990s, while losing very little audience share. These hosts are informing large audiences of information they’re not getting on the evening news. With no pretense of objectivity, those talkers are pointing out mainstream media’s bias. In many cases, the megaphone is big enough to force the media into covering stories they’d rather not.

This was true during Obama’s first term with matters such as Operation Fast and Furious and the Solyndra scandal. It was doubly true during President Bill Clinton’s eight years in office when Limbaugh helped to keep Whitewater, Chinagate and other ethical lapses on the public agenda. What Limbaugh and other talkers proved during the Clinton years, is there is an audience and strong commercially viable model for an alternative media.

“There is a reason that conservative talk radio prospers and liberal talk radio does not. Conservatism thrives on the intelligent exchange of ideas from history to philosophy to economics to the culture,” Morning in America host Bill Bennett said in an interview for The Right Frequency: The Story of the Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment. “Talk radio is now one of the primary mediums by which conservatives vet ideas and candidates, meaning that it has enormous impact on American politics. Speaking of the modern conservative movement, I don’t think the Tea Party would have the momentum and energy it does without the assistance of talk radio.”

One could easily argue Limbaugh has left a bigger footprint on the media landscape in the past two decades than Barbara Walters in her five decades on the air. Media stars like Walters, and the networks she has worked for still have a bigger reach than talk radio or even Fox News. But today it’s more difficult than ever for the MSM to “Gosnell” a viable news story just because it’s an ideological inconvenience.