Why we must keep crushing Trump after we win

E. Jean Carroll won. I’m glad she won, but I’m still depressed. Why? Because a financial victory against Trump is not enough.. As I said on the Nicole Sandler show on Thursday, we know how Trump responds when he loses, so we need to KEEP working to crush him after we win. He must be crushed legally, financially, politically and narratively.

I could speak generically, “Here’s what we should do.” But I have experience in fighting the right financially, legally, politically and narratively. I think that experience can be applied to the situation now and apply it in the future.

E. Jean Carroll after a jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing her in 1996. Photo John Minchillo AP May 9, 2023, in New York. 

Recently I spoke on a panel about my wildly successful work to make the violent rhetoric, racism, sexism and religious bigotry coming from right wing media toxic to mainstream advertisers and less profitable to the distributors of RW media. It was a financial victory, but I kept working to make it a legal, political and narrative victory.

I spoke about the narrative and messages that I used that people on our side could get behind and how I taught other groups how to use the Spocko Method.
If you want to hear more about how it was used on Rush Limbaugh, check out my conversation with Matt Binder on Doomed on Feb 18, 2021. Here’s the YouTube video link)

Because of the recent Dominion settlement, I talked about my previous success, working with Color of Change and Angelo Carusone (while he was still in college before he was CEO of Media Matters) to get Glenn Beck pushed off of Fox News. I spent months writing to News Corp institutional investors to point out Beck wasn’t getting ad revenue in line with his viewership. That was the narrative I used for the instructional investors, “Hey, you care about quarterly revenue, why isn’t this populare show bringing in ad revenue?”

Investors hate an “asset” that isn’t maximizing its profit potential. I knew some would be willing to wait a while, but they would ask Murdoch, “Why AREN’T there any advertisers? What can your hosts do to get the advertisers back?” When it was clear Beck wasn’t going to change, that led to investors to pressure Murdoch to fire Glenn Beck, because they wanted higher quarterly revenue.

In 2023 we see that Tucker Carlson had virtually no ad revenue and that News Corp now uses carriage fees to keep a high viewership, low revenue show on the air. The instructional investors may have have come to accept that they aren’t going to get money from ads on Tucker’s show, but they would REALLY like to have ad revenue. (BTW, New Corp lied about the impact of losing Glenn Beck advertisers, they are lying now about the lack of advertisers for Tucker Carlson. How do they lie? Using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles of a Conglomerate. That’s why my question to Murdoch started out, “I know you don’t break out the numbers… but”

A new report in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal about Tucker Carlson’s very abrupt firing confirmed Fox News had been lying for years about supposedly not having an advertising problem related to the toxicity of its former prime-time star.

Fox News previously lied about the effect of advertiser boycotts Media Matters For America

If I couldn’t stop violent rhetoric, I could make it less profitable.

When I first started contacting advertisers in 2005 about the violent rhetoric from right wing radio host I knew that management and the hosts might listen to them and stop talking about blowing people’s brains out and putting a bullseye on Nancy Pelosi. THAT was my goal.

I knew that some hosts wouldn’t listen to anyone. One “doubled down” with more violent rhetoric, he eventually got fired.

Lee Rodgers KSFO radio 560 AM says we should massacre all Iraqis on June 20, 2009

A second host was more careful with what she said, but she had already lost the support of the advertisers and got fired for not bringing in enough revenue. The third started using the Tucker Carlson, “I’m just asking questions” construction and he stayed.

I knew saying, “These hosts should not talk about torturing and killing people.” would be ignored. I was told, “If you don’t like it, change the channel. You aren’t forced to listen to it.”

One of my goals was to interrupt a platitude I heard used by the left, “I don’t like what they have to say, but I’ll defend to the death their right to say it.” Fine. So I said, “The hosts can say what they want, but there are sponsors who don’t want to support what they are saying. Advertisers have a choice. They can choose not to associate their brand with violent rhetoric. The hosts can keep saying certain things, but they don’t have to get rich saying it.”
You might notice I didn’t use certain terms, I did NOT want the hosts to be able to use certain defenses. “I was censored!” No you weren’t you could keep saying what you did, but you won’t get paid for saying it.”
I have my 1st Amendment Rights! “The sponsors aren’t the government. ”

Here’s the thing, as a society we HAVE made decisions that certain things people say should be restricted. And, if those restrictions are violated, there should be consequences.

KSFO was, and is, broadcast radio, they WERE under government restrictions. They still are. If they violated those restrictions, like using profanity, the stations could be fined. I knew that, I might not have agreed that profanity was detrimental to society, but the stations were under FCC rules with consequences, so they set up tools to prevent it experiences them. like the 7 second delay. If someone let slip an f-bomb, during a broadcast, the station suffered governmental financial consequences for it. )

I knew certain forms of violent rhetoric aren’t illegal, even on broadcast radio. However, advertisers said those kind of comments weren’t in line with their stated values. So they pulled their ads. My method was to make violent rhetoric less profitable. It worked.

I also realized that making it less profitable didn’t stop it, but it had an impact. Those stations lost the ability to make money from hosts who said things that advertisers found repugnant. If the stations couldn’t convince the hosts to stop their violent rhetoric, they needed to find other sources of revenue or accept less profits. And that is what happened. Advertising revenue for the “controversial” right wing media hosts crashed. The distributors didn’t make the huge pots of money like they did in the past. Rush wasn’t bringing in the big bucks, so radio distributors shuffled him off to radio stations with a smaller broadcast footprint so they could make revenue when they switched the station to Sports Talk.

iHeart has also forced its high-profile talk hosts to take pay cuts in an effort to save money. In 2016, Limbaugh agreed to a reduced salary, although the terms of the deal were not announced. This was a departure from past years, when information about Limbaugh’s contracts was blasted far and wide to boast of his influence and power.

Laden with $20 billion in debt, talk-radio giant iHeartMedia is trying desperately to save its failing business Salon, Feb 2018

People in right wing media adapted, some hosts moved to platforms where they could hide from accountability from advertisers. When platforms started monitoring them for saying certain kinds of things, the hosts stopped saying those things–because they couldn’t earn money if they did! Others moved to a subscriber only model, where their revenue wouldn’t be subject to platform or advertisers approval. For others, like Alex Jones, even if the show didn’t get ad revenue, mainstream platforms would not host them. So they kept looking for new platforms where there are no restrictions.

So what if a host has enough money sources that likes what they say, and the platforms are fine with it?
Do we just ignore them? Or do we say, “What they are saying is dangerous, harmful and we need to act.”

My friend Angelo Carusone talked about this on the Nicole Reid show last Friday, how this idea that “free speech and defending free speech … is one and the same with this paradox of tolerance, which is that it doesn’t matter how extreme, how ridiculous, how terrible, how violent — if you’re not willing to, as you know, subject yourself to it or even go one step further, facilitate and enable it” you are against free speech.

I’ve been talking to experts in the legal profession, and those who think and write about what people say on right wing media and via social media. I’ve focused on what do we do when what’s said is specifically used to harm people.

I’ve also been talking to people to understand why it looks like there is nothing we can do about this because … (and they have lots of reasons, the 1st Amendment, how they define ‘free speech’, the reluctance to engage in prior restraint or issue a gag order, the difference between public broadcast vs. private platforms, how threats are defined legally vs practically used, enforcement problems by the criminal system vs. enforcement on social media, the use of comments that are “awful but lawful” and the scale problem. ‘It’s too big to solve!”

I want to see Justice. What do we need to do to reach it?

I’ve been breaking down each reason and looking for solutions. Like what I did to stop the violent rhetoric on RW media. I know that a financial path is powerful, but it also isn’t enough. We can understand how a corporation can be defamed and be compensated. We are seeing that a price can be put on “reputation restoration.” But is that Justice?

I want to see Justice. What does that include? I’d like to see the perpetrator punished. I think the victim who is harmed should be compensated. Going forward the perpetrators’ bad behavior should stop.

After the E. Jean Carroll case I read people saying, “He’ll never pay!” So I talked about how he had to put up a $5 million dollar bond to appeal. How it will take at least a year, and he’ll likely lose, so when he does, the money will be there.

When people said, “He’ll raise four times as much money from his supporters.” I brought up how Jack Smith is already investigating Trump for campaign finance violations from his last fund raising actions.
But I know that’s not addressing the anger people are feeling, “He denied he lost, acts as if he won, is getting more money than the settlement, and won’t stop harming others? WTF?”

Trump is different. how he responds when he loses is different, so we need to KEEP working to crush him after we win. I didn’t give up after my first win against my local radio hosts on KSFO, I kept building on successes. It’s not an accident that Tucker Carlson had no advertiser revenue in 2023. That’s a good thing, We made that happen. As a CEO of a syndication company said about our campaign

It was enough to change the paradigm for all of talk radio.

David Landau, former co-chief executive of syndication company Dial Global

I’m proud of that work. And I know that the right adapts. Going forward we go after how they raise money, we explode their twisted definitions, we use their threats to harm others after they lose a civil case to crush them criminally and then politically. We destroy their narrative that they are the victim.

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