Just a few thoughts on the purging at RedState today and the price to be paid for deviating from the tribe. I know that price too well. I do think it was primarily a financial decision, but I also do think it had a lot to do with where one stood on the President. I know a little about the traffic people generated because I was still getting those stats. And it does appear to me that among some comparable people, the more pro-Trump ones stayed. As Ben Howe noted, there is consistency in who was fired.
It is Salem's choice and a business decision. Salem has worked to re-align itself to be more pro-Trump. I have talked to a Salem host who felt immense pressure to conform to the corporate line on the President and today, talking to a friend, discovered others in the same boat.
I left RedState in 2015 for a lot of reasons. Chief among them was that I know my future is in radio and Salem is a competitor to my station. Integration would not be possible. Likewise, I was continually disgusted by the advertising sent to readers from what I considered con-artists. And I really didn't think Salem understood RedState was an influence play. I am glad I left when I did.
RedState certainly grew in traffic after my departure, but it has less and less been a part of the conservative conversation. That's not to fault the writers, but the management. As the writers were forced more and more to grow traffic, RedState necessarily became more clickbait in topic and less influential in coverage.
I have tremendous respect for the writers still on payroll there, many of whom are long time friends. I wish them well. But I also know that many of those who departed are paying a price for not being sufficiently pro-Trump and I know that cost all too well. Now, I have never really talked a lot, in one place, about the price paid for not being pro-Trump. I might as well put it all together now and add some details.
When I uninvited Donald Trump from the RedState Gathering in 2015, I got death threats, harassment, and also saw the more than 30,000 people unsubscribe from the daily email I was sending at the time. That 30,000 came in only a few weeks.
After saying that I could not support the man for President, I pretty much ensured my days filling in on national talk radio were over for the time being. But not only that, it also played a part in disrupting my career advancement in talk radio to some degree. My bosses were quite worried about my own show, which is significant given its time slot. A few things that seemed just on the horizon have disappeared for now. Thankfully, though, God was watching over me and I'm actually in a stronger position now than before. More on that in a minute.
Over the course of the campaign in 2016, we had people show up at our home to threaten us. We had armed guards at the house for a while. My kids were harassed in the store. More than once they came home in tears because other kids were telling them I was going to get killed or that their parents hated me. I got yelled at in the Atlanta airport while peeing by some angry Trump supporter.
We got harassed in church and stopped going for a while. A woman in a Bible study told my wife she wanted to slap me across the face My seminary got calls from people demanding I be expelled. And on and on it went. When I nearly died in 2016, I got notes from people upset I was still alive. When I announced my wife had an incurable form of lung cancer, some cheered. All were directed from supposedly evangelical Trump supporters convinced God was punishing me for not siding with his chosen one. For a while, given the nature of what we were getting in the mail, my kids had to stop checking it.
When my Fox contract came up, not only did I not want to stay, but Fox made clear they had no use for me. I had jumped from CNN to Fox with a number of promises made, none of which were kept and then wound up hardly ever getting on. After saying I could not support Trump, the purpose of my Fox contract became more about keeping me off anyone's television screen than putting me on. When I did go on in 2016, I frequently found myself getting called a traitor by some Trump humping celebrity. After the election, that stopped, but most of my appearances did too except from a few kind producers with whom I had become friends.
I have no TV contract now and have literally been on more in the past three three months than in the past year at Fox, though all of it unpaid. Of course, much of the rest of the media prefers Republicans who will only blast the GOP and I don't do that anymore than mindlessly praise Trump.
But here's the thing that matters. I have worked very hard to remain friends with those who disagree with me on Trump. I have tremendous respect for those I worked with at Fox, including the executives there. And I have good relations with many of my peers in talk radio with whom I do not see eye to eye on the President. I consider, for example, Sean Hannity to be a friend and will gladly defend him. Rush Limbaugh is one of the greatest, kindest people I know in radio and I consider him a mentor and friend for whom I would crawl over broken glass.
Yes, I have lost friends, or at least lost relationships with some who once claimed to be friends. I saw a number of people, after the election, start lobbying my radio bosses for my job. I have seen people who once tried to have me on their shows or podcasts suddenly act like I am the enemy they never liked anyway. But, through all that, I have found out who really is a friend and have made new friends.
My radio show is going very well. The podcast to the show has amazing numbers and is, for all intents and purposes, a national show just via the podcast. My relationship with my listeners is stronger than it was and while I have probably lost a lot of listeners, I have new ones. I am blessed to have a pretty young demo for my show, which is unusual in talk radio. Most of my listeners are roughly my age with kids my age and we don't always agree, but mostly agree and I know I have latitude to say what I think. My station, one of the most significant in talk radio, just got me to sign a contract extension ensuring I'll be on air through 2020.
Yes, the financial hit has hurt and continues to hurt. I wake up a lot at night worried about making ends meet right now. The loss of the TV contract really does hurt and I worry way more than I should. I gave up my RedState income expecting to make it up at The Resurgent, but have not only never gotten paid, but expended more personal money than I never expected. Now I have the financial burden of this site and medical bills. But it is manageable for now and I never expected to take a strong stand without paying a price. I'd love a white knight or a winning lottery ticket, but I don't expect those to happen. I just live in prayer a lot more now, which is never a bad thing.
Most importantly, I would do it again. I think it was the right thing to do. I did not expect the price to be as steep as it was and as alienating as it was. I literally must beg readers to fund this site as its original sponsors walked away due to sustained harassment from Trump voters. We were forced to change our model and I do not know how sustainable it will be. There really isn't a support system or donor network for conservatives who sometimes criticize the President and sometimes praise him. I still think, though, it was the right thing to do and I have faith long term that though we are clearly in a realignment there will remain people aligned mostly with me and I will continue to be a voice for them.
What the conservative movement needs more than anything right now are conservatives willing to be conservative without looking for direction from a President who is not. You and I may not agree on all things, but it remains my intention that this site should have diverse voices from the right and my job should continue to be focused on pointing to truth north for the conservative movement, whether the President's supporters believe it so or not. I offer praise when it is due and criticize when appropriate.
Is there a price to be paid? Absolutely. Is it worth it? I'm not sure. But I think it is necessary and as long as I can, I will speak up.