PALM BEACH, Fla. – Radio powerhouse Rush Limbaugh says American newspapers are dying not because of a flawed business model or the influence of the Internet, but for one reason left-leaning journalists don’t wish to admit.
“When are you people gonna realize it is your content that’s being rejected? It’s your content that is your problem as much as anything else,” Limbaugh said Wednesday on his top-rated program.
“You’ve got shrinking circulation, shrinking ad pages, shrinking ad revenue, and you wonder why your readers don’t even patronize your sponsors – and you don’t even think to look at the number one reason why people would open a newspaper, and that’s what’s in it! The content.”
The topic was being discussed in the wake of this week’s announcement that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, was purchasing the Washington Post.
Tuesday night, CNN host Piers Morgan interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, and Morgan said, “Jeff Bezos is a genius, a multibillionaire genius, everybody that uses Amazon loves it because it’s an incredibly efficient service that provides everything you could possibly want in life.”
Bernstein, whose investigations with the Post in the 1970s ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, responded, “The great hope here is – look, our failings are an economic model that doesn’t work anymore, and hopefully by having a genius from the Internet age, from Internet technology who will help find a model that will preserve the most enduring aspects of great journalism and marry it with this new culture, that’s the hope. We need an economic model. We need somebody who has the deep pockets to sustain great reporting. That’s what’s been lacking.”
Limbaugh found Bernstein's comments laughable, as he echoed, "Need the deep pockets to sustain great reporting. It's a charity. He wants somebody to run the Washington Post as a charity, just throw money at it, give money to it, for great reporting."
Limbaugh recounted how former "CBS Evening News" anchor Dan Rather complained about huge cuts to the news division at CBS in the 1980s, and his lament that journalists shouldn't be forced to work under such bottom-line pressures.
"There was even honor in working for a place losing money," noted Limbaugh. "That's why CNN exists the way it does. There's honor in maintaining the cause while losing money. The left loves each other in that regard."
"Jeff Bezos doesn't look at the population of the country or a portion of it as the enemy, and you liberals in the news media do, and you wonder why [you're failing]!" Limbaugh added.
"There's a question that people like Bernstein need to ask themselves as they're heaping praise on Bezos and Amazon. Mr. Bernstein, ask yourself a question: 'Does Amazon insult half of its customers every day, like the Washington Post does? Does Amazon pretend that half the country doesn't even exist, like the Washington Post does? Does Amazon insult and impugn and laugh at and make fun of half the people in the country, like the Washington Post does, like the New York Times does, like NBC, CBS, ABC do? Does it?' It doesn't, and if Bezos is gonna make one change, it's gonna be that. He's a customer-service guy. ...
"He's a genius at how he treats his customers. He's a genius in the sense that he recognizes what all great business operators that have come before him recognized, and that is you thank God for your customers every day, and you constantly appreciate them and try to increase them. You don't insult them. You don't laugh at 'em. You don't act like you wish they weren't around. Until that changes in the news media, you can have all the business models you want and it isn't gonna matter a hill of beans."
Regarding the economics of the news media, Limbaugh said while newspapers across the nation are dying, his radio program is soaring.
"We're not losing money here at EIB (the Excellence in Broadcasting Network). We're thriving," he said. "We are continuing to grow. We use the same business model."
Limbaugh suggested Bernstein would be less praiseworthy if the purchaser of the Washington Post had been someone with a more right-leaning political outlook.
"I wonder what Carl Bernstein's attitude would be if [Walmart founder] Sam Walton were the multibillionaire genius buying the Washington Post," Limbaugh said in conclusion. "I know he's passed away, but just an object exercise. What would Bernstein's reaction be if Sam Walton bought the paper? Do you think he'd be happy some billionaire genius had picked up the paper? Be talking about funding great reporting and stuff? Ha. Be talking about the end of the world."