The recent speaker chaos in the Republican party has been heavily fueled by conservative media figures such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity. These conservative personalities were quick to criticize House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the news of their resignation only further strengthened the anti-establishment rhetoric.
Ann Coulter slammed the Republican leadership for allowing Obama to push through numerous executive orders on issues such as immigration, while believing that Boehner and McCarthy “were elected to stand up to Obama, not roll over”. In her Fox News appearance, Coulter voiced her turn towards populism and argued that the party was splitting between populists and elites.
Rush Limbaugh on the other hand, used a more abrasive rhetoric to criticize the Republican leadership, culminating in his call for Boehner to resign following the Speaker’s handling of the 2013 government shutdown. Since then, Limbaugh has increased his efforts to target Boehner and McCarthy, citing a number of controversial decisions taken by the GOP leadership.
Limbaugh’s fellow conservative talkers followed suit and turned their fire on the Republican leadership in response to their unwillingness to defund Planned Parenthood and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Laura Ingraham believed that the party has been too “spineless” and argued that the GOP needs a leader who can “struggle just as fiercely against the tide and his own party when need be.”
Sean Hannity, meanwhile, has gone a step further by arguing that the Republican leadership has turned its back on the conservative grassroots movement that propelled the Tea Party into power in 2014. Hannity expressed his frustration with the GOP leadership in a number of interviews and on his show, with the Fox News talker going as far as to claim that McCarthy’s resignation was due to the intense pressure applied by the grassroots movement.
The speakership chaos that has unfolded in the Republican party in recent weeks is a direct result of the intense criticism of the GOP leadership in the conservative media. While it remains unclear who the next Speaker of the House will be, it is certain that the conservative right will continue to push their agenda and wield a powerful influence on the direction the Republican party takes in future elections.