As the economy took a downward spiral in the last several years, the rhetoric from some in opinion media went from blustering bombast to rancorous incivility faster than an out-of-control Toyota. What raises my ethical hackles most comes from the Unholy Trinity of political demagoguery: Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Glenn Beck – three individuals responsible for much of the fear, unreason and cynicism that abounds today.
This excerpt comes from the chapter on Rush Limbaugh:
In an age of hyper-opinion-media, Rush Limbaugh is the Big Papi of right-wing talk. Outsized, bombastic, and always in control, Limbaugh is quite literally, the King of the Jungle of talk radio with a listening audience of somewhere between 15-20 million each week, all of whom wait – apparently with baited breath – for the next gospel from a man who’s self-confidence Jesus Christ would esteem.
For three hours a day, five days a week, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III holds forth with “half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair.”
Lucky for us.
In a Newsweek magazine cover story, The Power 50, which ranked the highest paid pundits and politicos, Rush Limbaugh, not surprisingly, “…ranks first with $58.7 million in annual income – or 34 times [Edward R.] Murrow’s 1952 salary, adjusted for inflation.” This, when Murrow was at the top of his game.
When it comes to his power and influence, El Rushbo – as some fans like to call him – is fearless. In 2009, when Republican Party National Committee Chairman Michael Steele had the temerity to call Limbaugh nothing more than an “incendiary” and “ugly” entertainer, Rush wasted no time taking Steele down in front of the radio host’s considerable fan base.
“Okay, so I am an entertainer, and I have 20 million listeners…Yes, said Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, I’m incendiary, and yes, it’s ugly. Michael Steele, you are head of the RNC. You are not head of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the RNC and right now they want nothing to do with it, and when you call them asking them for money, they hang up on you.…”
Faster than a Sarah Palin tweet, the RNC chairman backpedaled. “I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh… There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
All this grew from Limbaugh’s statement on his January 16, 2009, radio show.
Four days before Senator Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States, Limbaugh said, “I got a request here from a major American print publication. ‘Dear Rush: For the Obama (Immaculate) Inauguration we are asking a handful of very prominent politicians, statesmen, scholars, businessmen, commentators, and economists to write 400 words on their hope for the Obama presidency. We would love to include you….’
“Okay,” Limbaugh says, “I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.”
Now, let’s examine this for a moment.
At the time Limbaugh made his statement, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 598,000 jobs were lost, “the biggest single cut since the end of 1974” pushing the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. “Factories slashed 207,000 jobs… the largest one-month drop since October 1982. Construction companies cut 111,000 jobs and professional and business services axed 121,000 positions. Retailers eliminated 45,000 jobs while leisure and hospitality cut 28,000 slots.” The country is in the midst of two wars, and the Dow ended the month at 8,000, (down from a high of more than 14,000).
With those figures glaring at millions of Americans, the man with the biggest microphone in the country wants the President of the United States to fail.
“Why do we have to accept the premise,” Limbaugh snaps, “that because of the historical nature of his presidency that we want him to succeed? This is affirmative action, if we do that. We want to promote failure, we want to promote incompetence, we want to stand by and not object to what he’s doing simply because of the color of his skin? Sorry. I got past the historical nature of this months ago… I’m happy to be the last man standing. I’m honored to be the last man standing.”
Here’s what conservative Republican and speech writer for President George W. Bush, David Frum, wrote in an editorial about Limbaugh’s remarks.
“Notice that Limbaugh did not say: ‘I hope the administration’s liberal plans fail.’Or (better): ‘I know the administration’s liberal plans will fail.’ Or (best): ‘I fear that this administration’s liberal plans will fail, as liberal plans usually do.’ If it had been phrased that way, nobody could have used Limbaugh’s words to misrepresent conservatives as clueless, indifferent or gleeful in the face of the most painful economic crisis in a generation. But then, if it had been phrased that way, nobody would have quoted his words at all—and as Limbaugh himself said, being ‘headlined’ was the point of the exercise. If it had been phrased that way, Limbaugh’s face would not now be adorning the covers of magazines. He phrased his hope in a way that drew maximum attention to himself, offered maximum benefit to the administration and did maximum harm to the party he claims to support.”
Memo to El Rushbo: Most Americans don’t want ANY U.S. president to fail because if he fails, we fail and millions suffer.
That simple logic clearly escapes a man who places his own agenda before the welfare of citizens, many of whom not only listen to him daily but are currently suffering.
However, Limbaugh doesn’t reserve his pontifications solely for the political opposition. Here are just a few of his Golden Oldies.
On Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, during a broadcast of ESPN’s NFL Countdown: “I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve.”
On women who protest against sexual harassment: “They’re out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes.”
On actor Michael J. Fox, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, of “exaggerating the effects of the disease” during a campaign commercial the actor filmed endorsing Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill: “…moving all around and shaking,” Limbaugh mimics for an in-studio camera, “it’s purely an act… Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting, one of the two.”
Regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in 1993 Limbaugh said, “If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine ’cause those are the kinds of jobs NAFTA is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I’m serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do — let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work.”
Then there’s Rush Limbaugh’s Undeniable Truth Number 24(of 35) from an article he wrote for the now defunct Sacramento Union in 1988 and has since repeated on his radio show: “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society;” or my personal favorite, Number 7: “There is only one way to get rid of nuclear weapons – use them.”
Back to Obama: in July 2010 Limbaugh described President Obama’s economic policies as “purposeful disaster… There’s no question that payback is what this administration is all about, presiding over the decline of the United States of America, and doing so happily.”
Or Limbaugh’s more personal attack against the president on his July 6, 2010 show. Limbaugh plays a clip from ABC’s This Week where reporter Cynthia Tucker criticizes Michael Steele as a “…self-aggrandizing gaffe-prone incompetent who would have been fired a long time ago were he not black. Of course the irony is that he never would have been voted in as chairman of the Republican Party were he not black.”
Shameful remark by Tucker. However, in a nanosecond, Limbaugh does her one better. “That’s exactly the same thing you could say about Obama. He wouldn’t have been voted president if he weren’t black.”
This is what Rush Limbaugh calls “Excellence in Broadcasting.”
This is what I call reckless, retaliatory, and dangerous.
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