One of the biggest criticisms I face as a left-leaning political writer, especially from my more conservative family and friends, is that I assign too much importance to what professional right-wing pundits like radio talk show hosts do and say. So when a story comes out that one of the most powerful Republican politicians, House Representative Mike Rogers from Michigan, is quitting to go be a talk show for Cumulus Media, I smile, puff out my chest, and start compiling tweets that say “beeyatch, please, I told you so.”
Rogers is a powerful man. He has one of the most coveted spots in Washington as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He has his fingerprints on the nation’s most closely held secrets, makes decisions deciding the fate of U.S. spy programs, and enjoys a remarkably ubiquitous Sunday-morning presence on network TV. But 2 weeks ago, Rogers shocked no one and proved liberal critics 100 percent correct who contend that its right-wing talk radio that wags the conservative dog. He thinks he can make a bigger impact saying “libtard” and “feminazi” into a microphone, joining a Cumulus line-up that includes Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Don Imus, and Carson Daly.
“My theory is, if I can move the needle on the 2016 elections and the conversation and the dialogue about America’s future, then I’m equally as excited about that than I am about the work I’m doing right now,” said the 50-year-old Rogers.
Now that I’ve dislocated my shoulder patting myself on the back for being right about the right and their bizarre addiction to media influence as opposed to public service, let’s look into why Rogers is doing this.
He’s 50, a conservative, and so desperately wants to be a right-wing talk show host instead of politician. He’s obviously been affected by the 25 years of unprecedented success of Rush Limbaugh. Many of my liberal colleagues think Limbaugh is titular head of today’s GOP, especially it’s hard-right crazy kook fringe, the Tea Party. Rogers will walk into a gig that has about half of Limbaugh’s 15 million followers. That means on a five-day-a-week basis he’ll spew his brand of heylookatmeImtellingyoutheleftiscomingforyourgunsGodandfreedomliberty and whip his supporters into a frenzy over certain conservative enough political candidates. And they’ll listen to Rogers just like they listen to Limbaugh, Levin, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Andy Dean, Herman Cain, Erick Erickson, Sean Hannity and dozens of other people who make a living doing the same tired thing that works and makes a lot of money for themselves and the GOP.
Why is this important? Well, if a major political figure with his hand literally close to the button and his ear even closer to this nation’s secrets thinks running his mouth for 3 hours a day is more impactful, then it shows where our political system and the poisonous discourse that goes with it really is and that’s both sad and scary.
Rogers, a former FBI agent, will serve out his term, and leave at the end of the year. His profile recently as he has staunchly defended the National Security Agency and its bulk collection of telephone data amid leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden.
My conservative friends will say “I make up my own mind and I don’t even listen to Rush or Sean or talk radio”. First of all, yes you do. Secondly, Mike Rogers, House Representative from Michigan, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee knows you do, and he’s about to take advantage of that to push an agenda.
It feels good to be right, about the right.
Lance Burson is a writer living outside Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and 3 daughters. He’s the published author of 2 books, The Ballad of Helene Troy and Soul To Body, available on amazon.com and through lulu.com in paperback. He worked in radio for 7 years, once produced Sean Hannity’s show, and now worships his iPhone music library, even in the car.