Saturday, July 01, 2006

Surfing the Left Break

I have a buddy whose job keeps him in his car most of the day, driving from one appointment to another. He's always telling me about the rightwing radio guys. I work in the bowels of a big office building with no radio reception, and I never hear them, have no idea who half these people are. "You've gotta hear these guys," my buddy says, "You wouldn't believe them."

My theory is that their audience is people who are either unemployed or who work in jobs that require no brainpower at all, so they can listen to some guy on the radio while they're working. Music, I can see. Rush Limbaugh, naw, I couldn't do it at my job. Not that I would.

When the worldwide web came up and blogs appeared, the first ones were kind of rightwingish, it seemed like, or it was half and half. Drudge might have been the first one, right? Like Instapundit, and the now-dead Command Post, I remember in the early days thinking how uninteresting all the chest-beating was. Then a couple of more engaging ones popped up, then more and more.

Now the whole emphasis is shifting.
An odd thing seems to have happened to mighty right-wing talking head media juggernaut. They are still talking, but fewer people seem to be listening -- at least on the Internet. -- -- which is owned and operated by, tracks online usage for all Web sites, large and small. At, you can check a site's activity up to the minute, or follow its trail back for many years.

At U.S. Politics Today, we thought it might be interesting to see how the right-wing media machine was doing. Not well, it turns out.

During the past three months, for instance, traffic ranking has declined 18 percent. He still huffs and puffs away daily on radio, but advertisers might want to double check the size of his audience. If the bottom has dropped out on him online, it likely has had a similar trend line with his radio show. Web Traffic to Washington Times, Drudge Report, Rush Is Down; Is Era of Right-Wing Site Popularity Over?

Or, I was thinking, maybe the world is dichotomizing into those who get their information through a computer and those who get it from the radio.
Even Fox News, that gold standard of right-wing media, is down 13 percent. Here are the numbers:

Ann Coulter is coining money by attacking widows and orphans -- a new game for her since she's run out of Democrats, living and dead, to defame and verbally pillage. You would think with all of the attention the promotion of her new book has given her would raise visitor numbers at her Web site, Nope. Traffic there is down 10 percent.

The audience chart reversal seems to be common across the entire right-wing side of the Internet viewing board. -- -- has dropped 40 percent in the past three months. -- -- that once popular center for right-wing news and commentary, has fallen by 24 percent. The Washington Times Web site is down by 27 percent. And Matt Drudge, once the hottest right-wing name in Internet sites? says is down 21 percent.

Could it be that Internet users are getting tired of political sites in general? Maybe so. But is up 13 percent in the same period.

President Bush's fall from grace has been well documented by poll-after-poll. The unpopularity of Congress may not be at historic lows, but those 20-something level of support numbers can't be comforting to those who manage things on Capitol Hill.

It seems logical that with enthusiasm draining from the right- wing movement that put the president and the current Congress in place, the media chorus that has lavished praise on them all these many years would be affected by the change in fortune.

And so it seems, looking at the numbers -- if they are to be believed. Those graph lines may not directly parallel the decline in GOP poll numbers, but they are all heading in the same direction -- down.

Hmm, it would be interesting if this was what was happening, that the simpleminded rightwing schtick was just losing its appeal for everyone. And it may be. I had assumed that the world was splitting in red and blue media preferences, computer versus radio, interactive versus passive, fact-seeking intellectual versus helpless and angry.

But hey I'm just as happy with this guy's theory. Maybe we're waking up from the nightmare.


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