Would They Do It For Free?

To all of you still half-inclined to put any stock in any “conservative media” entities, from the radio hosts to the podcast and social media hipsters to the publishers of the “major” commentary websites, I have this one question for you — or rather, one question I wish you would put to those “conservative media” entities: Would they do it for free?

I do not mean, “Would they offer some of their services for free as a seasonal promotion in order to expand their subscriber base?”

Nor do I mean, “Would they air their product on the radio or post it on the internet for the unpaid use of their listeners or readers, as a means of gaining advertising revenue or a corporate contract?”

I mean this: If they knew they would not, even could not, make one penny from their websites and podcasts and radio broadcasts and “books,” would they continue to produce any of it? Would they devote hours and years to expressing these opinions, to “getting their message out,” if they saw no avenue to material gain in the effort?

Be honest with yourself, for the sake of your mind’s independence and your spiritual freedom: Think of one popular radio show, one conservative media empire, one influential “right-wing opinion website,” that would not shut down operations tomorrow — that in fact would ever have been on the scene in the first place — but for the proprietor’s belief that there was money to be made from promoting this or that specific idea, advocating these or those candidates or policies, and criticizing and warning against “Them,” i.e., the chosen opponents of the day, and their evil intentions.

If you find anyone who passes that test, any non-profiteer espousing views that are attractive or interesting to you, and who does not ask you to “adapt” with him to the vagaries of the times (aka the popular winds and pragmatic demands of the political opinion market), then perhaps you will have found someone who is not wasting your time and slowly siphoning away your moral seriousness into his bank account with mock-political showmanship. (Hint: the type of person you are looking for will not be a national radio host or commercial website publisher or social media hipster.)

One of the few undeniable benefits of the Trump era is that it has exposed beyond all possible re-masking just how fraudulent and pettily self-interested the conservative media business always was — how much, in fact, it always had in common with the drug trade. Unpleasant truth is always preferable to comforting illusion. Trump exposed the truth of the conservative media by embodying it. His own obvious duplicitousness and lack of principle pulled back the veil on the whole sordid industry with which he so naturally and cynically aligned himself, and which in return eagerly circled the wagons for him over these past five years, recognizing him as one of its own — an ever-shifting opportunist, an ever-calculating sophist, a pseudo-courageous political whore who would sell your soul to the devil for a nickel if that happened to be indicated by today’s market trends.

The profit motive is socially beneficial, to be sure — except when, or to the extent that, it is allowed to intrude upon those arenas in which the essential goals at stake are knowledge of good and evil, intellectual growth, and freedom. To surrender those arenas to the profit-seekers is to sacrifice the soul to the body, understanding to greed, teaching to sophistry, moral independence to submissive rationalization, and the hard-won joys of true liberty to the false comforts of worthless tribal chanting.

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