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In the world of right-wing media, all pundits aspire to impact and direct the conservative movement as the late Rush Limbaugh did. Following the clown prince of right-wing radio's demise, several radio hosts and media moguls have begun scrimmaging over Limbaugh's daily radio time slot, and the title of conservative radio kingpin.
Shortly after Limbaugh's death in February, figures such as Dan Bongino, Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, and Sebastian Gorka could all be found elbowing each other for room in the dog-eat-dog world of conservative talk radio.
In the middle of March, Bongino announced that his new radio show would fill the time slot Limbaugh left behind, although broadcasting on a different channel. "The Dan Bongino Show," starting on May 24, will begin airing in "select markets" from 12 to 3 p.m. Eastern. That hasn't stopped Kirk, the Turning Point USA founder, from seizing a piece of the action, also claiming he is taking over Limbaugh's time slot on terrestrial radio, via yet another channel.
"What an honor to join @77WABCRadio, New York — the flagship station of the Great Rush Limbaugh," Kirk tweeted on April 9. "Tune in every weekday from 12 EST for coverage, updates, and analysis from the frontlines of the American Culture War, only on The Charlie Kirk Show." Kirk's program will be just an hour, from 12 to 1 p.m. Eastern.
"I am thrilled and honored to take the same time and station where my friend and American hero Rush Limbaugh launched his national radio show in 1988," Kirk said in a statement.
Asked on Wednesday whether Bongino and Kirk were contesting who really occupies the coveted Limbaugh timeslot, TPUSA and Kirk spokesperson Andrew Kolvet said that both Kirk and Bongino are "pulling in the same direction," despite competing on opposite channels and broadcasting at the same time. "There is no other Rush, nor will there ever be. He was one of a kind. But Rush and Charlie were good friends, and he is honored to be one of the hosts picking up his mantle," Kolvet told Salon. "Rush inspired Charlie to get into podcasting and radio. Dan is a great radio host and also a friend. They will be on separate stations, yes, but pulling in the same direction."
Neither Bongino nor Shapiro returned Salon's requests for comment.
While both Bongino and Kirk are advertising themselves as heirs to Limbaugh's throne, Premiere Networks, the company that syndicated Limbaugh's radio show around the nation, told Salon on Wednesday it hasn't tapped anyone to fill Limbaugh's slot. "No one can replace Rush Limbaugh, and Premiere Networks will continue to provide millions of loyal listeners with the voice of Rush Limbaugh for the long term," Rachel Nelson, Premiere's vice president of public relations, told Salon. "We have a variety of familiar voices who are guiding the audio of Rush for all of the important issues of the day, including Todd Herman, Ken Matthews, Jason Lewis, and Brett Winterble. With over 30 years of audio, Rush has a definite view on any and every topic."
Kirk and Bongino have been upfront about their efforts to fill Limbaugh's time slot. Shapiro has been quieter but remains an immensely influential conservative voice who reaches millions through his syndicated radio program managed by Westwood One, the same firm that handles Bongino's radio syndication. As for Sebastian Gorka, he must be considered a long shot to claim Limbaugh's mantle. Unlike Kirk, Shapiro, and Bongino, Gorka has been banned from YouTube, which greatly reduces his national reach.
Can any of these younger right-wing pundits unite the massive conservative audience Limbaugh commanded for so many years? That seems unlikely in this new media age of micro-niches and narrowcasting, but only time will tell.
Newly released court documents allege that in 2018, the National Rifle Association and its CEO Wayne LaPierre approved a $1.5 million dollar contract to keep then-NRATV host Dan Bongino on for the 2019 calendar year at the NRA's failing TV outlet. This came as the gun rights organization was falling deeper into financial troubles over the course of 2018.
A legal document obtained by Salon and filed by Ackerman McQueen, the NRA's longtime PR agency, in the gun group's ongoing bankruptcy case in Texas, contains a list of commitments that Ackerman alleges the NRA "refused to honor." It then claims that at an October 2018 meeting in Dallas, "LaPierre approved NRATV for the 2019 budget year, including Dan Bongino's $1.5 million contract (which Mr. Bongino ultimately turned down)."
According to reporting by The Daily Beast, Bongino was "dropped" by NRATV around the end of 2018, but Ackerman McQueen's new legal filings suggest that was not in fact the case.
Reached for comment by Salon about the $1.5 million offer and about whether LaPierre ever told him about the NRA's financial struggles, Bongino responded angrily. "I typically send your ridiculous inquiries to junk because I think so little of you, and your drifting," Bongino wrote. Then he observed, in his colorful style, that the court documents show that the Daily Beast's reporting three years back may have been inaccurate.
"Liberal media morons, and their blind, gullible, imbecilic followers breathlessly reported for years that I was 'fired' from NRATV, or 'dropped,' as the disingenuous Daily Beast put it," Bongino wrote. "Now that court documents have surfaced to completely refute this b*llsh*t story, you send me an email asking for comment on the NRA? You guys are a pathetic joke. Your parents must be horrified at what they spawned."
In light of the NRA's bankruptcy petition in Texas, which is now being heard in court and has yielded some unfavorable moment court for both the organization and LaPierre, one gun safety group argues that the $1.5 million Bongino deal offers more evidence of the NRA's "egregious spending."
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, told Salon the alleged Bongino offer further illustrates the NRA's financial ineptitude. "Offering Bongino $1.5 million to be on its faux-TV-network, that no one watched, is yet another example of the NRA's egregious spending and financial mismanagement, which have led them into multiple investigations and lawsuits culminating with the disastrous ongoing bankruptcy trial," Watts said.
A Trump supporter who allegedly beat police officers during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots was ordered to stay in jail ahead of his trial after it was revealed that he tried to flee to Switzerland.
CNN reports that Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday ruled that MAGA rioter and professional geophysicist Jeffrey Sabol was "the epitome of a flight risk" after he tried to book a flight to Switzerland after the riots because he believed the country would shield him from extradition.
Sullivan also wrote that Sabol should remain in jail before trial due to the violent actions he took against Capitol police officers during the riots.
"He stripped a vulnerable police officer of his police baton," Sullivan wrote. "He then used that stolen police baton to force another officer away from his post and into a mob of rioters who proceeded to viciously attack him, leaving him bleeding from the head."
After being apprehended by police in February, Sabol declared that he "was fighting tyranny in the D.C. Capitol" during the riots, although his attorneys told the court this week that he had been "lied to" about the 2020 election by former president Donald Trump, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone.
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