Larry Elder: An Elegy
Larry Elder, the conservative/libertarian author and talk show host, has been fired by KABC radio in L.A., where, until yesterday, he’d presided over the coveted 3pm – 6pm drive-time slot. KABC’s operations manager Drew Hayes claimed (in an internal memo obtained by the Hollywood Reporter) that getting rid of Larry was part of his program of making “improvements” at the station. According to Southern California public radio station KPCC, Larry’s ratings had been in free-fall, plummeting his program to #32 in the L.A. drive-time slot.
And now he’s doing a podcast. Good luck being the next Adam Carolla, Larry. You’ll need the luck, because you don’t have the skills for that kind of thing. So I’m here both to bury and praise you, old friend.
I’ve known Larry since 2010. I met him through the “super secret” Hollywood conservative organization Friends of Abe. In 2011, he, more than anyone else I knew, helped put my organization, the Republican Party Animals, on the map, after he attended one of my events. This is still my favorite video clip ever. I look at it, and I recall my hope and optimism at the time. It still makes me smile:
Larry never missed another event of mine. He was always there for me, as a guest speaker, at no charge. Larry never had to try to be the smartest guy in the room; he just was, by nature. He’s a brilliant guy. And he looked the part. Tall, with a commanding but friendly and disarming presence. People wanted to be near him.
In 2012, he surprised me by coming to my 44th birthday party. I hadn’t invited him, because I thought it’d be beneath him to come. But earlier that day, he ran into a mutual friend at Fox News who asked him if he was going. Larry was actually disappointed I hadn’t invited him! At the party, he took me aside and asked me to go into business with him on a film project.
Need I say it? Best. Birthday. Ever.
I was also his unpaid (at my insistence) video editor. Larry wanted to get back on TV, and I edited several reels for him. I combed through dozens of old VHS videos of his popular but defunct syndicated TV show “Moral Court” in order to craft a reel that we could use to get the show back on the air. I also became an occasional guest on his radio show.
Our movie, which I titled “A Necessary Good,” was going to be about how firearms are not a necessary evil, but (well, hence the title). We were going to focus on the use of guns by women for self-defense, and citizens who have stopped massacres (and other crimes) through being armed.
I even commissioned a helluva great poster. This is the first time it’s ever been published (and the last), but many of you probably have other works by the guy I brought in to do it (he’s known for his satire of the “Coexist” bumper sticker).
It would’ve been a great film.
But, well, you know the rest of the story. I was “outed” as David Cole by a vengeful fashion model named Rosie Tisch, and Beverly “sleeps her way to executive producer credit” Zaslow, one of the most foul humans I encountered among the Abes (seriously, I’d take Friend of Abe Mykelti Williamson over her, and he carved a man up with a butcher knife), made sure Larry knew about the “outing” before I could bring it up to him.
Larry had his personal assistant ask for his stuff back, and I was officially cut off. No attempt at dialogue. The man who bitched nonstop for twenty years about the abuse he receives for being a black conservative had no sympathy for the fact that my life was totally destroyed because I’m a (long retired, until now) Jewish Holocaust revisionist.
And, I have to add, Larry stiffed me for $2,500 for a commercial I edited for his last book. I never charged Larry a dime for the personal editing work I did for him, but he insisted that I take a fee for this job, as the money would come from his publisher, World Net Daily. In October 2013, WND offered to settle the dispute for $1,366.67 (an odd figure, to be sure), but Larry talked them out of giving me anything. That was just mean.
I mention this because I do have a personal grudge. My mom’s 24-hour medical care comes to $7,500 a month, and the home equity loan I had to take will run out soon enough. $2,500 is a big deal to me these days.
But it’s not my personal grudge that leads me to say that Larry will fail at podcasting. It’s an objective assessment based on his personality.
Larry is defined by the fact that he hates doing things himself. His admirable success had brought him to a place in life where he could delegate everything. Every inconvenient or annoying detail: PR, phone calls, driving him around, sending and answering emails, culling news clippings to discuss on his show, editing, etc. Larry liked to show up at the studio, get fed his talking points, and go home, where he’d be off the clock for the night. He was as hands off as Lavinia in Titus Andronicus. When Larry needed to find the 80 or so VHS tapes of his old TV show, it was up to me and his nearly-crippled assistant Dana to rummage through his garage while he went off for the afternoon. When he appeared on Fox TV and needed footage picked up, I did the pickup and delivery. He was a member of Friends of Abe, but he insisted that I order his tickets to events.
“Doesn’t Larry get our emails?” a perplexed Gary Sinise asked me at a 2011 dinner with Dick Cheney. “Yeah, but he doesn’t read them. I tell him who’s speaking, and if he wants to go, he has me order the tickets.”
An unraveling began when his publishing fortunes changed. For his last book, “Dear Father, Dear Son,” Larry, a man whose best-selling status had brought a partnership with the esteemed St. Martin’s/Macmillan, was forced to slum with conspiracy theory lunatic asylum World Net Daily. WND’s “author support” was nonexistent. Hell, even I have a better publisher (no joke; WND doesn’t rank on any of the independent publisher charts, whereas Feral House does, consistently).
Deprived of the author support and pampering he’d grown used to, Larry was forced to turn to me to arrange book signings (it’s likely that WND never planned to pay me for the commercial regardless of my “outing.” $2,500 probably represented their entire budget for 2013).
Larry knew that WND was beneath him, and he told me so, repeatedly. Watching him flailing around helplessly trying to move books on his own was pathetic. I did all I could to help, but the bright side was, he still had the radio show. He had full VIP status at KABC. He had a team, a good paycheck, the ability to promote himself on-air, gifts and perks sent to him by prospective guests, and a car-a-month agreement with a dealership that sponsored his show.
The problems with the book were daunting, but he still had the “big kahuna,” the show.
And now that’s gone.
This is not a man who will be happy podcasting on zero budget from a house or a tiny studio. His meltdown at going from St. Martin’s to WND will look subdued by comparison. Larry doing a podcast is like Queen Elizabeth on an exercise bike. She’ll get winded and give up before she reaches a quarter-mile. Larry won’t be content with the podcast idea. In his heart, he still wants to be back on TV. Which brings up another problem…
He’s going bonkers. As I’m slowly trying to climb out of that gutter hellhole known as “the fringe,” Larry is sinking into it. He’s been going into things like “chemtrails,” “Bilderbergers,” and anti-vaccination theories…exactly the kind of stuff that TV won’t want. Being with WND for two years probably contributed to his slide; that’s their core audience. To keep his (almost certainly short-lived) podcast alive, he’ll have to cater to exactly the audience that will put getting back on TV right out of his reach.
Hell, if he had me on the podcast, I’d probably bring in more listeners than he’ll ever get otherwise. Podcasters love me; I bring in good numbers and lots of callers. My Youtube channel has millions of views, and the podcasts I’ve done since my book came out have received hundreds of thousands of views/listens. Considering that Larry’s agent told KPCC that he was down to only 12,200 listeners a day (during drive time…in L.A., city of drivers) before KABC fired him, my numbers seem rather impressive in comparison.
You know what, Larry? I’ll do it, mate. I’ll do your show, for old times’ sake. My fee is $2,500.