I didn’t give up on print newspapers even when the web starting delivering all the news I needed to my laptop.
I kept buying the daily paper, tucking it under my arm and taking it everywhere I went that day. Sure, I could find it all online, but I loved the feel of the paper in my hands. It also connected me to my early days as a newspaper reporter, eager to read my colleagues’ work.
Now, when I see the newspaper on our front lawn, cocooned in its pristine orange wrapper, I just keep on walking. I’ll pick it up later. Maybe.
What day is recycling again?
Consider that a warning to conservative media outlets serving as Donald Trump’s de facto campaign arm. You’re destroying habits that have been in places for years. In some cases, decades.
Our behavioral tics are changing more rapidly than ever. Remember how we used to set aside time to see a favorite show? Now, we watch what we watch, when we wanna watch it, with no patience for any other way.
This phenomenon extends to news-consumption habits. There are always more places to click, listen or absorb the headlines, particularly from right-leaning outlets. A habit change can be simply changing a bookmark on your web browser.
For roughly 25 years if I was near a radio from noon to 3 p.m. I turned on “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” I first heard Limbaugh through my dad. We’d sit in the car together, wolfing down Sabrett hot dogs and listening to “talent … on loan … from Gawd.”
I was hooked. Like father, like son.
As I got older, listening to Limbaugh became instinctual. It was like walking into a darkened room and reaching for the light switch.
Months of hearing Limbaugh, THE voice of conservatism, downplay, ignore or somehow spin Trump’s antics changed all that. Now, I turn the radio to a competitor. Or I don’t turn it on at all.
Twenty-plus years of entrenched behavior? Gone, unlikely to return.
See how that works? And I cannot be alone.
The same holds true for a crush of web sites I used to visit daily, if not more. Story after story of Trump boosterism made them drop off my daily radar. Now, I may follow a Facebook link to one of their articles. That’s about it.
No more trust. No more clicks.
This isn’t about a petty disagreement about candidates. As a conservative, I understand my first, second or even third choice may not emerge as the party’s presidential nominee. I’m an adult.
What I see is media outlets scrambling for New Coke, all the while knowing the public will soon reject it en masse. Did they think we’d forget their coverage? Are they assuming once Trump crashes (to occur either at the Republican National Convention or closer to Election Day), we’ll forget their fawning?
The Republican presidential bench heading into the 2016 campaign couldn’t have been deeper. You had the governor with a strong conservative track record (Walker). The outsider with brains and heart (Dr. Ben Carson). The minority candidate with the All-American life story and a soaring oratory style (Marco Rubio). And what about the most conservative politician around (Ted Cruz)?
Instead, Limbaugh and co. told us, directly or indirectly, that Trump was the best bet yet. They didn’t slam him as a third-rate con man who would get trounced by Hillary Clinton’s attack machine.
In short, they failed us. And I’m making a habit of not forgetting that.
Christian Toto is a freelance writer and editor of HollywoodInToto.com