Recently there was a letter to the editor in which the writer explained how he dealt with dirty, rotten radio talk show hosts, i.e. those whose views he didn’t agree with. He would write a letter to the local sponsors saying he would not buy their product because their money supported that loony on radio station KRUD. This is brilliant. In order to exert pressure, or more honestly, to stop someone from saying whatever it is you don’t like to hear over the air waves, it does no good to write the network. Some of these radio and TV hosts are on hundreds of stations, so the networks don’t care about some lone letter writer from Texas. You can’t influence national sponsors who can easily withstand your miserable little whine. And don’t bother writing the host who loves to receive hate mail. It does no good to write the local radio or TV station, either. Management says, “See? At least they’re listening to him.” No, the only pressure point to fight back is money, and local money is the only option that might yield change. Does this financial pressure amount to censorship? Sponsors read ratings. If, say, a left- or right-wing hatemonger turns off listeners or viewers and ratings drop, the host is fired. The vast wasteland is littered with the corpses of hosts who committed one sin: they didn’t bring in the ratings. We don’t hang around with people, or listen to talk shows, that give us indigestion. But this exclusion means we inhabit an echo chamber, while as judge and jury of our society, we really should hear both sides of an argument with a semi-open mind. Of course, we don’t, but how far should we go to, in effect, keep others from listening, viewing or reading something we find repugnant? We must also consider the printed word. Mike Levy, the founder and longtime publisher of Texas Monthly, observed that if his magazine didn’t get 300 to 400 cancellations an issue, he felt he was not doing his job. Newspapers are different. If we don’t like a certain writer, cartoonist, etc. in a newspaper, but like other presentations in the publication, such as the comics or celery ads, it doesn’t make much sense to cut off our subscription – and our noses. Some people don’t like Rush Limbaugh, but obviously a lot do. He is heard on some 600 radio stations across the country, and more than 14 million people listen to him at least once a week. He signed a contract last year, reportedly paying him $38 million a year through 2016. However, one survey shows the average listener tunes into Limbaugh for 11 minutes. The other night I almost turned off Keith Olberman after he ridiculed Texas seceding from the Union, saying Texas cleaned up financially as an impoverished state seeking constant federal help. He failed to mention we are a donor – repeat, donor – state, sending to Washington billions more than we get back. Ashby is censored at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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