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How conservatives are winning the media battle

By Richard A. Viguerie -- 9/7/11

The Tea Party and conservative movements control their destinies through the alternative and new media

A column on the Forbes magazine website got me thinking about how important the rise of the new and alternative media has been to the rise of the Tea Party and conservative movements.

In fact, without the alternative media, the conservative movement would not exist -- and the rise of the Tea Party has certainly been fueled by the new medium of the internet.

Consider this -- the New York Times carries on its front page the motto “All the news that’s fit to print,” and for much of the past 50 years liberals were largely in charge of deciding what was fit to print and what wasn’t.

Even as Ronald Reagan rose to prominence and won two elections, if you were a conservative on a college campus or in a suburban neighborhood reading the newspapers and watching TV, you were marooned in a world were the elite opinion makers of New York and Washington found your ideas fit to be ignored or attacked -- but not printed or aired.

The conservative print media was small and it was hard, if not impossible, to find the conservative point of view on television.

Walter Cronkite would go on air at 6:30 PM on the CBS Evening News and by 7:00 PM America would know what to think… and it wouldn’t be that lower taxes, less government, and more freedom were good ideas.

In the 1960s and 1970s to get the conservative message out we began to use the alternative media – direct mail – to bypass the elite media filter… and it worked.

All of the early institutions of the conservative movement, such as the Heritage Foundation and National Review, used and still use direct mail to sustain their missions.

Early conservative successes at the ballot box, such as Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan, were fueled by small contributions raised from the grassroots through direct mail, not the big checks from the K Street elite.

Later, free market economics provided another alternative to the establishment media – talk radio – which vastly increased the ability of conservatives to bypass that elite media filter.

Talk radio commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingrahm are all on the air and succeed not because those who finance media companies and buy advertising are conservative – they succeed because there is a market for conservative programming that was long ignored by the media establishment.

And make no mistake about it, the fact that conservative programming makes money sends a powerful message to the establishment. Talk radio proved there was a market for conservative opinion programming and soon Fox News came into being to meet the demand on television.

As effective as direct mail, talk radio and Fox News were in fueling the rise of the conservative movement, the media channel that has really empowered grassroots Tea Party movement activists is the internet.

The internet makes communicating simple, cheap and immediate.

Imagine how difficult it would have been to turnout people to attend town hall meetings to protest Obamacare in 2009 and 2010 without email, or organize the Tea Party rallies at the Capitol if we had to do it by phone tree as we once did.

The Tea Party has been empowered because the internet is a mass media completely unfettered by elite controls and filters – any individual, any group, can have a website, a blog, a Twitter account, a facebook page and an email address.

Conservative websites such as, RedState and Human Events are becoming key players in breaking and covering news and conservative opinion, but the real power of the internet is at the micro level.

Leadership begins with you! Ours is a grassroots, not a top-down, movement. If you want to make a real difference this campaign cycle DO NOT WAIT to establish your Twitter account, build your followers list and make a habit of updating regularly, establish a facebook page for your local Tea Party group, set-up fan pages for conservative candidates, blog about where the candidates stand on the issues, and most importantly, build and maintain your email and texting lists.

Today, I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been about the future of our great country. In some measure that optimism is based on how conservative and Tea Party movement activists have mastered the alternative and new media and freed us from the censorship of the elite media establishment.

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