Talk radio company orders hosts to stop suggesting election was stolen from Trump
A talk radio company that employs some of the nation’s most popular conservative radio hosts has issued a memo barring talent from spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” wrote an executive with Cumulus Media in a Wednesday directive, the same day as the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, according to The Washington Post.
Brian Philips, the company’s executive vice president, went on to say Cumulus and its program syndication branch, Westwood One, “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths’. ”
“If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately,” he added.
Cumulus hosts include Mark Levin, Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino. Rush Limbaugh, who is broadcast on numerous Cumulus stations but syndicated by Premiere Networks, is not subject to the directive.
It remains to be seen whether hosts like Levin who have built a strong personal brand will abide by the memo and whether Cumulus would be willing to take major disciplinary action if they do not. As recently as Thursday, a day after the riot, Levin seemingly denied responsibility for inciting the unrest, saying: “I’m not stirring up a damn thing. Everything I say is based on principle and mission. Everything is based on liberty, family, faith, the Constitution. … My enemies and my critics can’t say the same.”
Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers magazine, said the memo represented the corporate side of the talk radio industry pulling rank on on-air talent who often present themselves as independent from outside influence.
“Corporations have always called the tune ultimately,” he told the Post. “Everyone pays attention to the guys at the top and always has.”
Tech and social media companies have also clamped down on potential incitement in the wake of the riots. Twitter has banned President Trump’s account, as well as those of several leaders in the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, heavily represented among the mobs.