“It’s beginning over,” Mr. Harrison mentioned in an interview, noting that conservative radio customers can merely swap to different well-liked Limbaugh-like hosts, together with Mr. Hannity, Glenn Beck and Mark Levin. (iHeartMedia may not thoughts: It additionally syndicates Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity.)
Mr. Limbaugh’s success might have ensured his present’s eventual obsolescence.
He was the primary conservative icon in nationwide media, bringing an ideology extra carefully related to elite organs like Nationwide Evaluate to a mass viewers. His shock-jock antics infuriated Democratic presidents and endeared himself to Republican ones; as early as 1992, President George Bush invited him to spend an evening within the Lincoln Bed room.
Earlier than Fox Information and the MAGA web, Mr. Limbaugh’s program was the one megaphone for his divisive, hyperpartisan model of commentary. “There’s one thing magical concerning the intimacy of radio that youthful readers merely can’t presumably recognize,” the commentator Matt Lewis wrote in The Daily Beast after Mr. Limbaugh’s dying, echoing different conservatives who reminisced about childhood listening periods.
There isn’t a doubt his present remained influential with the Barely Much less On-line set, notably amongst working-class listeners whose jobs may not afford nonstop entry to a social media platform in the course of the enterprise day. Mr. Limbaugh even scored some headlines in December when he mused that the nation may be “trending towards secession.”
However Mr. Limbaugh’s latter-day commentary — whereas nonetheless ribald and unrepentant — was usually indistinguishable from that of dozens of different pundits.
“He created the style, which then flooded the market with opponents, some much less gifted, some extra,” mentioned Ann Coulter, the conservative provocateur. “Just one individual will be the pioneer — however after that, it’s dog-eat-dog.” (Even Fox Information, which lengthy loved a monopoly on conservative TV, has now been pressured to deal with upstart rivals, like Newsmax, that attraction to far-right viewers.)
As a result of he relied on a publicly traded conglomerate for his paycheck, Mr. Limbaugh was additionally beholden to the sorts of company pointers that fringier on-line platforms might fortunately ignore. After the election, Mr. Limbaugh defended President Trump’s lies about voter fraud — and as late as Inauguration Day insisted that Joseph R. Biden Jr. “didn’t win this factor honest and sq.” — however he stopped wanting explicitly calling for violence. It was a visitor on “The Alex Jones Present” who explicitly referred to as for supporters to “occupy the Capitol.”