Rush Limbaugh is Still Dead

The reflections on the departed right-wing talk host continue.

In my Thursday post “Reporting and Commentary Should Remain Separate,” I argued against Dan Froomkin’s critique that mainstream media obituaries of Rush Limbaugh didn’t slam his divisiveness hard enough, contending that strong opinions are better suited to the op-ed pages. Sure enough, the New York Times, whose Limbaugh obituary struck me as perfectly consistent with journalistic practice, has today published four very strong op-eds seeking to put the conservative shock jock’s legacy into context.

Frank Bruni‘s contribution, “Must We Dance on Rush Limbaugh’s Grave?” is the least useful of these, rehashing the tired debate over speaking ill of the dead without adding much to the discussion. He does, however, offer a solid defense of his paper’s Limbaugh obit as striking the right balance from a different frame than mine:

The headline: “Rush Limbaugh Dies at 70; Turned Talk Radio Into a Right-Wing Attack Machine.” That nails his significance and signals his destructiveness without hurling slurs. Below those words, in a subhead, came these: “With a following of 15 million and a divisive style of mockery, grievance and denigrating language, he was a force in reshaping American conservatism.” Again, no sugarcoating Limbaugh’s behavior, no hedging about his tactics, but also no taunting, no seething, no celebrating. The paragraphs that followed that subhead also followed suit.

They certainly didn’t pay homage to him. But the nastier stuff that I saw elsewhere did, in its way — by accidentally reifying his aspersions against liberals as merciless jurists and by inadvertently validating his own style. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Limbaugh was just flattered to a fare thee well. He got posthumous company in the gutter, and I’m hard pressed to identify anyone who benefits from that.

[…]

I’m not saying that if we all just talked prettier, we’d find common ground, or that ugly language about bigots is nearly the problem that their bigotry is. I’m not saying that we owe Limbaugh and his listeners a gentle touch and, without it, are doing them some unwarranted disservice.

But our roughness certainly isn’t going to lead anyone to the light, and it may well encourage its targets to hunker down in their resentment, double down on their rage and stray less frequently onto terrain where they might mingle with people who hold at least slightly divergent views.

Our crudeness only perpetuates a kind of discourse that tracks too closely with Twitter: all spleen, no soul. Paired with an information ecosystem in which people on different places of the political spectrum often curate — and ascribe to — wholly different facts, it doesn’t leave us the room for reasoned and reasonable debate on which a healthy democracy thrives.

Jill Filipovic‘s “The Life and Death of a Woman-Hater” offers a strong argument that Limbaugh served as “the right wing’s misogynist id” and thereby did strong damage to the movement. Because few OTB readers need convincing of that, I’ll move on.

Ben Shapiro‘s “The House That Rush Built” is the least critical but offers to New York Times readers a solid assessment of what made Limbaugh popular to so many:

His joyous willingness to engage in battle was an inspiration to a college student feeling overwhelmed by a one-sided, progressive viewpoint preached in the classroom. Rush’s fighting attitude was infectious. It infused the right.

Rush’s gleeful, oppositional defiance is what so angered the left. Before Rush, the left’s quasi-monopoly in media had granted it victory in political debate by default, and with it, a feeling of smug, unearned superiority. But Rush broke this monopoly. Unlike the “objective” elitists in liberal newsrooms, Rush never hid his politics, and his competition created conflict. He didn’t appeal just to dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, either. He made fans of people who had never before been exposed to conservatism. So, from the point of view of the left, Rush’s opposition was creating polarization where there had once been consensus.

But conservatives recognized that Rush hadn’t started the fight. To the contrary: Rush was finally fighting back in an undeclared media war against half of the country.

By 1994, Rush’s show was broadcast on some 650 stations, to an audience of 20 million.

By demonstrating the huge market for conservative content, Rush opened wide the door to a thriving alternative media infrastructure. Without Rush, there would be no Fox News, Drudge Report or Daily Wire. He leaves behind a thousand outlets doing what he once did: explicating conservatism, and fighting back against the predations of a left that seeks institutional and cultural hegemony.

To which Ross Douthat, one of the few old-style conservatives out there, says Exactly via his column “Rush Limbaugh and the Petrification of Conservatism.”

[I]n the long arc of the Limbaugh era, you can see pretty clearly how success and self-marginalization can be effectively combined. Reaganite conservatism in ’80s America was a 55 percent proposition, popular with younger voters, with only a mild version of today’s yawning gender gap. But you don’t need 55 percent of the country to build a huge talk-radio audience or an incredibly successful cable news network or a vast online ecosystem. You need a passionate audience, a committed audience, a church of Dittoheads.

[…]

But then everyone else on the right went in the same direction: First, Limbaugh’s talk radio imitators, then Roger Ailes with Fox News, and then — disastrously — a great many Republican politicians, who realized that an intense ideological fan base was enough to win them elections in safe districts and might make them media celebrities in the bargain.

This pattern created problems that compounded one another. As Conservatism Inc. became more of a world unto itself, it sealed out bad news for conservative governance, contributing to debacles that doomed Republican presidents — Iraq for George W. Bush, Covid for Donald Trump. These debacles helped make conservatism less popular, closer to a 45 percent than a 55 percent proposition in presidential races, a blocking coalition but not a governing one. And this in turn made the right’s passionate core feel more culturally besieged, more desperate for “safe spaces” where liberal perfidy was taken for granted and the most important reasons for conservative defeats were never entertained.

Such a system, predictably, was terrible at generating the kind of outward-facing, evangelistic conservatives who had made the Reagan revolution possible. There are threads linking Reagan to Donald Trump or William F. Buckley Jr. to Sean Hannity, as the right’s liberal critics often note. But to go back and watch Reagan and Buckley is to see an entirely different approach to politics — missionary and confident, with a gentlemanly comportment that has altogether vanished.

In its place today is a fantasy politics, a dreampolitik, that’s fed by a deep feeling of grievance and dispossession. Part of this feeling is justified, insofar as liberalism really has consolidated cultural power everywhere outside Conservatism Inc. But the right’s infotainment complex is itself a major reason for that consolidation. Conservatives have lost real-world territory by building dream palaces, and ceded votes by talking primarily to themselves.

There’s much to nitpick here. Certainly, one can point to actions and quotes from Reagan and Buckle that are less than “gentlemanly.” But Douthat is right on the larger point: Limbaugh’s schtick ultimately transformed the conservative movement in destructive ways because it showed how lucrative playing to the predudices of an aggrieved base can be.

Limbaugh was extremely good at what he did and I find it next to impossible to separate his schtick from his genuine beliefs. I do think, as do both Shapiro and Douthat, that his early “I am equal time” bit was real. That is, three hours a day of Limbaugh was a response to a media landscape dominated by a more liberal sensibility. To some extent, that was true even in the early days of Fox News in 1996. At least on the news side, they actually believed the “Fair and Balanced” label.

Regardless, a business model that depends on keeping people riled up and feeding their belief system will inevitably become mean-spirited and dishonest. Discussions of nuanced differences of emphasis—which is where politics in a democracy should naturally gravitate—aren’t enough to get millions to tune in for three hours a day, every day. No, the opposition must be monsters out to destroy all that the Good People hold dear.

FILED UNDER: Media, Obituaries
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    Limbaugh’s professional behavior was flat-out atrocious.

    He was arguably the worst thing that happened to political discourse in decades.

    17
  2. Joe says:

    I agree, de stijl, that arguably (maybe certainly) he was. But that happened and he’s gone. More useful to figure out how he did that so that we can avoid that on either side of the debate moving forward.

    4
  3. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “That is, three hours a day of Limbaugh was a response to a media landscape we grew up believing was dominated by a more liberal sensibility.”

    Fixed that for you.

    ETA: Darn. The system wasted an edit.

    10
  4. de stijl says:

    Mocking denigration was his bread and butter schtick.

    Often by blatant mysogny and racism.

    History will judge him as a primary negative voice. And a counterforce to considered criticism. He was a blowhard.

    He was not a good guy.

    2
  5. James Joyner says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: In hindsight, the “liberal media bias” construct is overbroad. In particular, the elite outlets had and to some extent still have a corporatist bias. But I don’t think there’s much question that the prestige outlets had very progressive views on the social issues and slanted both the selection of stories and the reporting on those stories in that direction.

    5
  6. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: We’re disagreeing on scope. What you note is accurate, but the charge about liberal media bias always seemed to me to have the implication, if not the blunt assertion, that conservative voices were muted, stifled, forced out of and off of media platforms. That’s simply bullshit.

    20
  7. senyordave says:

    Here’s a little gem I just found regarding Limbaugh and the gay community:
    Anti-gay rhetoric was a recurring theme throughout The Rush Limbaugh Show’s three-decade run. In the late 80s and early 90s, as AIDS culled a generation of gay men, Limbaugh would air “AIDS Updates” on his show, where he’d mock the disease and those dying from it while playing songs like “Kiss Him Goodbye,” “Back in the Saddle Again,” and “I’ll Never Love This Way Again”.
    I hope this MF is in hell, pushing a ball up a hill for eternity. Limbaugh died at age 70. In the early 90’s he would have been 40+. This wasn’t a “mistake of youth”. Limbaugh was a lifelong example of human garbage. Might be time to break out the 12 year old scotch again – Rush Limbaugh is still dead!

    20
  8. DrDaveT says:

    Discussions of nuanced differences of emphasis—which is where politics in a democracy should naturally gravitate […]

    When I teach decision theory, one of the key distinctions is between consensus and compromise. Consensus is possible when all of the stakeholders’ values align sufficiently that you can characterize the group’s decision as representing an average of the individuals’ goals and preferences. Compromise is required when stakeholders have incompatible values — for example, when management values higher return for shareholders and labor values having a higher proportion of revenue paid out in salaries.

    Even as late as the 1990s, American politics continued to work as consensus, at least publicly. There was open agreement about the goals — prosperity, security, justice, etc. — and disagreement over the details of how best to achieve those things. That is no longer true — and as you note Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes were a big part of why it is no longer true. Worse yet, they explicitly vilified compromise as being against their audiences’ values. Nuanced differences of emphasis will remain irrelevant for as long as America stays in this state.

    15
  9. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I find it interesting that Rush first burst into prominence on talk radio in the twilight of the Reagan era. By then, some of the Reagan mythology was becoming threadbare, but you’d never know it from listening to Rush. In that respect, the false worship of Reagan was too well established to be shaken (at least in the GOP), while first Rush, then Newt, then the Tea Party, and finally, Donald pushed the Republicans away from Reaganesque Pollyannaism to a permanent posture of deliberate meanness.

    7
  10. MarkedMan says:

    Buckley was rarely ungentlemanly, but he was a blatant racist and white supremiscist. That’s not hyperbole. Here he is in his own words from “why the South Must Prevail”:

    Let us speak frankly… the South does not want to deprive the Negro of a vote for the sake of depriving him of the vote…In some parts of the South, the White community merely intends to prevail — that is all. It means to prevail on any issue on which there is corporate disagreement between Negro and White. The White community will take whatever measures are necessary to make certain that it has its way…

    The central question that emerges is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically?…

    The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage.

    Republicans have a long long history of celebrating extreme racists, as long as they only occasionally say the quiet parts out loud. Buckley falls into that category, as does Buchanan (publisher of The American Conservative) and Ron and Rand Paul.

    Republicans think others are overreacting and playing the race card when called out on their heroes. “After all”, they respond, “think of all the things they said that weren’t racist. Sheesh! One little thing”. If Republicans actually cared about injustice they would shun such people, not idolize them.

    6
  11. dmichael says:

    I confess that I don’t have access to the full Bruni column but the quoted portions seem to be the usual Bruni pablum. “I’m not saying this and I’m not saying that….” Well Frank what are you saying? That we can’t allow ourselves to express in vivid terms the Limbaugh legacy? Are we lowering ourselves to his level by reminding others of what he said and did? Is this only “taunting,” “seething (?)” or “celebrating”? By doing so are we “merciless jurists”? Are we to note only that he was very “successful” as if that excused his behavior and influence on politics? Count me in the category of those who celebrate his absence. He can no longer continue his pernicious influence on society.

    1
  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    His joyous willingness to engage in battle was an inspiration to a college student feeling overwhelmed by a one-sided, progressive viewpoint preached in the classroom.

    Having gone through college in the late 90s, “overwhelming one-sided progressive viewpoint” mean that when the “conservative” student kept trying to derail the class with unrelated tangents about whatever the conservative bugaboo of the day was, the professor would just ignore them and continue on with whatever the class was actually about.

    26
  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    Also, if I ever found myself in a position where I was reduced to favorably quoting Ben Shapiro to find support for my thesis, I would just delete the draft and go contemplate how I came to be so obviously wrong.

    17
  14. de stijl says:

    @dmichael:

    At least it’s Bruni, not Bari.

    1
  15. JohnMcC says:

    “Rush Limbaugh is still dead.” I just knew there was a good reason for my lovely euphoric sensibility this morning.

    Please. Remind me again tomorrow.

    4
  16. Mikey says:

    Ben Shapiro:

    Rush’s gleeful, oppositional defiance is what so angered the left.

    That’s some bullshit right there. Not that we should expect more from Shapiro, but wow. Of all the things Limbaugh said, all the hate he pushed, all the harm he enabled to so many people, we’re supposed to believe the left was angered because he displayed “defiance?” What utter nonsense.

    @Stormy Dragon: This times 1,000,000.

    19
  17. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I went to school with that guy. When he was a freshman he thought he was so clever.

    When he was 24 he was working for Hazelden, a drug and alcohol rehab center. Still a cocky asshole, tho.

    TJ. Guy was a walking lesson in misplaced pride. Casually prejudiced and flippant about it.

  18. Thomm says:

    @senyordave: yup. Aside from his perniscious influence on my pops, my uncle (mother’s brother) was one of the men he read off on one of those lists. That is why I come in so hot for any defense of this….thing.

    3
  19. Thomm says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: trump was the result of almost thirty years of rush’s influence.

    5
  20. de stijl says:

    @Thomm:

    Gingrich was the early adopter. Frank Luntz abetted him.

    3
  21. gVOR08 says:

    From Ben Shapiro:

    His joyous willingness to engage in battle was an inspiration to a college student feeling overwhelmed by a one-sided, progressive viewpoint preached in the classroom. Rush’s fighting attitude was infectious. It infused the right.

    The important thing is not anything he fought for, but that he fought liberals. Sounds like another restatement of conservatism is opposition to whatever liberals want today, updated daily.

    11
  22. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    Well, “owning the libs” has always been more important to Trumpkins than anything else, and Limbaugh was first and foremost–for the past five years, anyway–a Trump fan.

  23. Gustopher says:

    Bruni:

    They certainly didn’t pay homage to him. But the nastier stuff that I saw elsewhere did, in its way — by accidentally reifying his aspersions against liberals as merciless jurists and by inadvertently validating his own style. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Limbaugh was just flattered to a fare thee well. He got posthumous company in the gutter, and I’m hard pressed to identify anyone who benefits from that.

    There’s a lot of Republicans trying to present Limbaugh as a Great Man, the founder of modern conservatives, as someone to be emulated and venerated. They white wash his bigotry, misogyny and hatred.

    And these are the same people who are glossing over Trump’s racism, misogyny, behavior and crimes.

    Excusing it has consequences. Bad consequences. You can draw a straight line from Limbaugh in the 90s to the 1/6 coup attempt. This is the reason punching Nazis is acceptable. Never tolerate intolerance.

    The lesson we should take from Limbaugh isn’t that hateful language shouldn’t be used, but that it’s effective, and should be used sparingly. It signals a point where compromise cannot happen, and that can be a good thing to signal when it’s not everything.

    He was a piece of shit who made the world a worse place, and we all would have been better off if he died in childhood. And I will say the same of anyone who gave him a medal for it.

    Shapiro:

    His joyous willingness to engage in battle was an inspiration to a college student feeling overwhelmed by a one-sided, progressive viewpoint preached in the classroom. Rush’s fighting attitude was infectious. It infused the right.

    https://youtu.be/0-w-pdqwiBw

    3
  24. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Even as late as the 1990s, American politics continued to work as consensus, at least publicly. There was open agreement about the goals — prosperity, security, justice, etc. — and disagreement over the details of how best to achieve those things. That is no longer true — and as you note Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes were a big part of why it is no longer true. Worse yet, they explicitly vilified compromise as being against their audiences’ values.

    Yes. It’s not JUST Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative infotainment complex but they certainly deserve a lion’s share of the blame for this.

    3
  25. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    In one of the two physical fights I’ve been in I broke my right middle knuckle on a Nazi’s face. I knew that dude. We had hung out. I knew his name. Group confrontations are bad. I should have bailed before it got rough. I was righteously pissed so. I did not.

    Knuckle is still kinda fucked up. Half again larger than it should be and aches when weather changes hard. I was a lefty for two months. It sucked.

    I was 17.

    1
  26. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: That column was written more than 70 years ago and he had a pretty remarkable turnaround five or six years later. He went from an elitist if objectively correct view—Blacks were less-well-educated than their white counterparts—to accepting that this objective fact obscured the more salient point that they were behind precisely because whites had done everything in their power to keep them down.

    5
  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Oh but you’re forgetting that when Buckley ran for office in NYC (IIRC), he recanted his past statements. I’ve always held that it was simply because he saw that such a line would not sell there, but other’s have always pointed out that, being an ignint cracker and all, I couldn’t possibly be right about that. (And that I was too cynical.)

    1
  28. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    A decent person doesn’t need five or six years to turn around. A decent person doesn’t say racist things to begin with.

    Away with that shit. Buckley was a racist to his dying breath.

    Oy! Apololgia for Buckley?! Crikey fucking Moses!

    2
  29. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: “Punching Nazis” is a metaphor, grasshopper. Next time use a stick.

    Sorry about your hand. I thank you for your service.

    6
  30. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: I remember reading that piece when it came out and remarking at what a piece of retconning it was. Buckley had a remarkable change of heart about race? Please. 20 years later he was still writing columns defending apartheid, calling for Mandéla to remain in jail, and justifying Botha’s use of a brutal police state to keeps Blacks on the bottom.

    So if Buckley didn’t change his mind, why did he change his tune, at least as far as US Blacks were concerned? My guess is that he was truly disgusted by the tactics of George Wallace and Bull Conner, although not what they were using those tactics to achieve. Above all, Buckley was a snob and did not want to be associated with such poorly educated thugs. Another factor might have been that he saw the way the winds were blowing and loved being the beloved yet rascally conservative intellectual invited to public forums to pontificate for the adoring masses. Giving cover to people like Conner and Wallace might have been acceptable in the black and white newspaper era when photos were a blur of dots, but with so many Americans owning TV’s, even color TV’s, it was going to be a harsh look when non-Southerners saw the huge cops billy clubbing 90 pound girls in dresses and white gloves.

    So Buckley shifted his tactics, but not his message. Sure there were some “good ones”, but they were held down by the thuggery and depravity of the ghettoes. We must feel sorry for these pitiable few. There were even some educated and noble coloreds that had risen far above the rest, and they should be given positions to help lift their brothers and sisters out of ignorance. It’s the oldest trick of the rulers in the book. Try to elevate the best and brightest of those being oppressed and give them a level of status and wealth in exchange for keeping the rest docile.

    That Politico article gave the game away when it praised Buckley for a comment made disparaging Public unions for treating their black members fairly. This must show noble Buckley’s true change of heart! It obviously couldn’t be that Buckley’s anti union and anti black interests were served by sowing dissension between the two groups.

    8
  31. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    That’s why God invented steel toed boots. I was too naive to know.

    Ever since I ordered my yellow boots, Google ads serves me up the Doc Martin site at least two or three times a day. It’s almost as if they had a consumer profile of me.

    What’s appalling is that the usual ads feature the no lace boots with the elastic side panels like I would even consider such a travesty of design.

  32. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I can’t remember if it’s you or @wr, but there are new HAIM tracks out this week. Mostly remixes from WIMP3.

    Also, new The Mountain Goats stuff, too.

    1
  33. CSK says:

    Apparently the Rush Limbaugh Show will continue, with guest hosts playing clips of “the best of Rush” from a 30-year backlog of tapes.

  34. Scott F. says:

    Regardless, a business model that depends on keeping people riled up and feeding their belief system will inevitably become mean-spirited and dishonest. Discussions of nuanced differences of emphasis—which is where politics in a democracy should naturally gravitate—aren’t enough to get millions to tune in for three hours a day, every day.

    It strikes me that this has it backwards. I see nothing wrong about keeping people riled up regarding issues of importance in their belief system. That’s the engine of political activism and impactful public protest. It’s when you have to resort to meanness and dishonesty to do so that the problem occurs.

    If Democrats truly were prolonging their lives by drinking children’s blood, I would hope there would be outrage every day in the media and that people would take to the streets. But, this belief is obviously delusional, yet the idea persists because it isn’t an inconceivable leap from the BS the conservative media offers up every day.

    What Rush did was show the profitability of creating an alternative reality. And conservatives bought it big time, because objective reality (or ‘objective’ reality as Shapiro puts it) doesn’t comport with the rightist worldview based on climate change denialism, wealth inequity denialism, and systemic racism denialism.

    3
  35. Teve says:

    Back in the early 90s I worked in radio for a few months, and I did the news for the local station B94.3. This was back before the consolidation and everybody getting fired. When there were actual DJs. There was a guy who worked at the station who had worked with Limbaugh in St. Louis, and said Limbaugh doesn’t actually believe the stuff that he saying, he just tried out a bunch of things and found that saying conservative stuff really lit the phone lines up. I have no evidence to back this up, just one guy’s claim, 27 years ago, but I choose to believe it’s true.

    3
  36. Teve says:

    Anyway, anyone who calls a 12-yro girl ugly is a vile POS.

    1
  37. Teve says:

    David Foster Wallace did a profile of John Ziegler where he talks about just how weird it is to have the exact skill set to be a good radio host

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/04/host/303812/

    1
  38. Teve says:

    If Democrats truly were prolonging their lives by drinking children’s blood

    They conspiracy makes no sense from a chemistry point of view. If you did want Adrenochrome, you would call up Dow Chemical and order a 50 gallon bucket of it. You wouldn’t go to the trouble of abducting kids and harvesting milligrams. Stupid.

    5
  39. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    True, but presumably then they wouldn’t have the fun of participating in their evil ritual. You have to remember that they’re Satan-worshippers.

    2
  40. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    The Cabal wants artisan, free-range, fair trade blood of the innocents.

    Sophisticated palates.

    Think Portlandia, but with Satan worship and infanticide, etc.

    There is a writer at Paste who has done a series of really deep dives on shit QAnon people post. It is chilling and hilarious. Jim Vorel.

    1
  41. Bill says:

    You guys sound like Howard Sterns’ bread and butter- people who hated him actually listened to him more. Rush was at best a “realist” who didn’t sprinkle sugar on whatever bad things happened,and had no problem just saying what others thought. I didn’t listen to him much as I had a life- but I don’t recall him trying to ban those he disagreed with- debate is good, like it or not.

  42. Thomm says:

    @Bill: I guess a lot of people you run with are mysoginistic, racist, homophobic wastes if you think he said what others thought. Says more about you the “movement” than you would think.

    3
  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Oh fwk. Tell me you’re kidding.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I possible that it was true 27 years ago but also true that as he worked on the schtick, he became more like the character he played on the radio. There are some who say that about Ann Coulter–there became a point when she forgot that it was a schtick and started embracing it as real.

  45. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Nope. That appears to be the plan. Sorry.

  46. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.:

    It strikes me that this has it backwards. I see nothing wrong about keeping people riled up regarding issues of importance in their belief system. That’s the engine of political activism and impactful public protest. It’s when you have to resort to meanness and dishonesty to do so that the problem occurs.

    Ultimately, I think, they’re as linked as night and day. It’s one thing to have a host with a point of view and to keep hammering at issues. But to sustain righteous indignation on a day after day basis and keep it interesting, it’s necessary to have an Other. A Bernie Sanders Show wouldn’t survive by simply pointing out the flaws in the current system that need to be reformed. It requires evil plutocrats who are behind the system.

    The only model I’ve seen that avoids that is when it’s a group show with hosts who like one another and simply disagree. So, “Crossfire” worked when it was Mike Kinsley and Pat Buchanan, who felt compelled to concede when the other made good arguments. It became a shoutfest of hacks with any pretty much every other pairing. The “The McLaughlin Group” was a pretend shoutfest but the hosts were mostly respectful to one another and therefore presented mostly honest arguments. The old “Firing Line” show worked as well, but it was a show by elites for elites—and was only one hour a week.

    2
  47. dave says:

    @de stijl: Examples? Or are you talking out of your rear end?

  48. dave says:

    You know what really burns you, libs? It’s the fact that Rush was so successful.

    So successful, that you have to make up lies about him.

    Face it. He had more of an impact on American politics than all of your combined.

    And with thousands of hours recorded, he not only is still alive, but will continue to be so for decades to come.