Rush Limbaugh is arguably the most well-known radio personality in the entire world. His show airs on more than 650 stations and is the most listened to talk radio program in the entire nation. He is also, arguably, both the most hated and the most loved radio talk show host in the world. Hardly anyone is neutral about Rush: you either love him or you hate him. I don't hate the man— how can one hate a human being that has such low self-esteem that he has become a professional bully? I do strongly dislike his hypocrisy, his self-righteousness and his methodology, which is why I only listen to him when I'm forced to, like while standing in line at the post office.
I'm not sure how one would describe Rush's style. It's rude and crude, acidic and acerbic, derogatory and degrading, insulting and insinuating, a lot of hot air that chills the soul, long on inuendo and short on facts, with an eternal memory for the sins of foes and instant forgiveness (or likely excuses) for the sins of allies. And I almost forgot the most important ingredient: SPIN. The kind that distorts truth, misrepresents facts or whatever else it takes to make the one speaking the spin seem wise, learned and, more importantly, correct. Rush seems to take that tongue in cheek saying seriously: "If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullsh*t." You need hip boots to wade into almost anything Rush touches if you want to get to the truth that he buried by baffling. It could be argued quite easily that each of the mouthpieces this site profiles is simply a Rush Wannabe— some in alternative mediums. In fact, Rush has inspired a whole lot of wannabes and clones, and ironically, many of them can be found on radio stations that bill themselves as "Christian". Here in the local Pittsburgh area, we have Marty Minto, whose has taken the term "dittohead" to heart— his style mimics Limbaugh's to a "T".
Limbaugh was born into a wealthy and politically powerful family in 1951. His father, a conservative judge, owned the radio station where Rush got his first taste of broadcasting in the late 60s. But his first real "successful" show was under the pseudonym "Jeff Christie" on a Pittsburgh AM station with call letters KQV (which, ironically, used to be my favorite radio station growing up in the early 70s). At the time, KQV, as were many AM radio stations, was a "Top 40" station. However, for reasons not listed, Rush was fired from KQV— one of many places who terminated his employ. [NOTE: The page linked here contains no offensive pictures or language but does link to some sites that are not appropriate for younger children.]
In the late 70s, FM rock was stealing audiences from AM radio and a decline in listeners forced many stations to change formats. Limbaugh left radio for a while and did a stint as the director of promotions for the Kansas City Royals, but in 1984, he returned to radio as a talk show host in Sacramento. It was here he first really "perfected" his current show's format— just him, no guests, interacting with callers— usually those who agreed with him. In the late 80s, he moved his act to New York City where his show was eventually syndicated. By the end of 1992, Limbaugh was being heard on more than 190 stations across the country.
Rush is quick to judge others for what he sees as their flaws, yet refuses to acknowledge those same flaws in himself. For example, Rush was always quick to deride former President Clinton for getting deferrments to avoid service in Viet Nam. Yet had any other Democrat/liberal public figure been deferred for the same reason that Rush was deferred, Limbaugh would have made that politician the butt of a crude joke (pun intended). (As an aside, it's interesting to look at who, in this current administration/power bloc actually did serve— and it wasn't many.) When a caller to his radio program questioned Rush about his deferrment and the reason, Rush emphatically denied the reason and called it all "internet hyperbole". [NOTE: The page linked here contains no offensive pictures or language but does link to some sites that are not appropriate for younger children.]
Another example of Rush's hypocrisy is his stand on drug abuse. On many occassions on his show, Limbaugh commented on the worthlessness of drug addicts. Two of his 35 Undeniable Truths are:
14. There's a simple way to solve the crime problem: obey the law; punish those who do not.
15. If you commit a crime, you are guilty.
Yet on October 10, 2003, Limbaugh announced that he was addicted to prescription pain medication. His former housekeeper revealed Rush had been to detox at least twice prior to his revelation and subsequent entry into a 30 day rehabilitation program. Yet despite his admission that he was an addict, despite the fact that there is no possible way he did NOT break the law, Rush is still a free man. He's fighting any attempts to bring him to justice and, ironically, it is the ACLU— an organization he has lambasted too many times to count— that has come to his rescue by stating that the police siezure of Rush's medical records was an invasion of privacy. Limbaugh spent no time in jail for his illegal drug use but was put on probation of sorts. When Rush was stopped at the Palm Beach, Florida airport in the summer of 2006 carrying a bottle of Viagra that was prescribed to his doctor, he may have violated the terms of his plea agreement in that case. But he won't be facing any charges because of it. More hypocrisy.
Rush considers himself an entertainer who has caught the ear of millions— estimates say that there are 20 million listeners to Rush every week. But there's no denying that his show has helped popularize the agenda of the radical religious right and the neo-conservative movement. In fact, the Republicans in Congress were so indebted to Limbaugh that they made him an honorary member after they won control of the House in 1994. When ABC/ESPN made Rush a commentator on their Sunday NFL pregame show, it seemed to boost Rush's claim that he was merely an entertainer. But after he made comments about Donovan McNabb that suggested McNabb's success was due to the fact that the NFL and the media wanted a black quarterback to succeed, he once again entered the political arena. Despite ABC/ESPN telling him his comments were insensitive and inappropriate, he refused to apologize. In fact, he suggested that the uproar that his comments caused was due to the simple fact that he was right! (Rush eventually resigned from his post at ESPN.) This entire episode highlights so well the seeming inability of anyone connected to the RRR to admit to making a mistake and/or to take personal responsibility for their actions.
Earlier this year, Rush put forth the unfounded rumors (which were later shown to be untrue) that the Democratic party had coached at least two widows whose husbands had died on 9/11 to speak out against Bush as part of a smear campaign designed to influence the election. It turns out that these widows were part of an organization that had formed shortly after 9/11 that wanted to find out, among other things, why we had been so unprepared, why we had not followed protocol for planes that turn off their transponders and why we had failed to stop the other three planes after the first one hit. These widows have been seeking answers to these questions for years and are angry at the stone-walling that Bush and his administration are guilty of. Their organization is the one that created the talking points and funded the commercials. Yet no apology was forthcoming from Limbaugh. Again we see the inability to take personal responsibility for one's actions.
The outrage Rush expressed over this false perception of an attack on Bush by two widows of 9/11 was nowhere to be found about a month later when American soldiers not only admitted to but were photographed abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners of war. In fact, Limbaugh suggested that the soldiers were simply "blowing off steam." He compared it to a frat initiation ceremony, perhaps forgetting that at a frat initiation, the pledges are there willingly. His entire attitude towards the scandal was "it's no big deal" and he communicated that idea to his 20 million listeners, who are known as dittoheads for a reason. This kind of irresponsibility as well as his obvious grasp of the political power he wields makes Rush's claims to be a mere entertainer simply an excuse to be hateful, hurtful, mean-spirited and outright untruthful without having to apologize. In other words, Rush's popularity and power enable him to be irresponsible without suffering any consequences.
Of course, Rush seems to feel no sympathy for the civilian casualties in Lebanon, only for those in Israel. According to Rush, the civilians in Lebanon should expect to die for supporting a political party that Rush disagrees with. (In Lebanon, Hezbollah is a recognized political party that has seats in the government.) Those same sentiments came from the mouth of another well-known mouthpiece: Osama bin Laden, who suggested that the American public should expect civilian casualties for supporting a corrupt government like the Bush (mis)administration. Like I've said elsewhere, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
Why, when the actions of these mouthpieces go so against the grain of the American ideals, when their hypocrisy is exposed over and over again, do so many people still listen to and— worse yet— believe them? For an answer to that, please read my thoughts on the topic.
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