Rush Limbaugh

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Rush Limbaugh or Rush Hudson Limbaugh III is a right-wing talk radio host, syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, a property of Clear Channel Communications. e.

Contents

Big background

Born on January 12, 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri), Limbaugh started out in radio as a teenager in the late 1960s in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, using the name Rusty Sharpe. His father, a judge whose wealth and power gave him considerable influence in Southeastern Missouri, had once owned the radio station where Limbaugh started his career.

Limbaugh attended Southeast Missouri State University (not to be confused with Southwest Missouri State University) for a single semester before dropping out after having flunked communications. This would have normally made him eligible for the draft, but he was classified 1-Y due to an undisclosed medical problem [1]. Limbaugh stated that he was not drafted because a physical found that he had an "inoperable pilonidal cyst aka an anal wart" and "a football knee from high school" [Colford, pp 14 – 20].

He went on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a Top 40 music radio disc jockey on station WIXZ and in October 1972 moved to KQV, using the name Jeff Christie. It was in Pittsburgh that many of Limbaugh's trademarks developed, such as a claim to use a "golden microphone". (This claim is now a reality as Limbaugh does use a golden microphone on The Rush Limbaugh Show.)

After several years in music radio, Limbaugh took a break from radio and accepted a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

Talk radio and television career

In 1984, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, California. After achieving some local success, he moved to New York City, New York (and his current flagship station, WABC) in the late 1980s and eventually became syndicated on August 1, 1988 via a company called Premiere Radio Networks[2], which is owned by the publicly-traded Clear Channel Communications, Inc.[3]. Limbaugh refers on-air to the "Excellence In Broadcasting Network", or "E-I-B"; however, this is merely an on-air signature or slogan, as there is no organization with that name.

As the program grew in ratings, it was carried on stations with larger audiences. The Rush Limbaugh Show was largely responsible for the shift in mediumwave|AM] broadcasting to a news-talk format after an audience decline in the 1970s. The program has for over 15 years been the most popular talk radio show in the United States. The show is usually split between call-in segments and monologues by Limbaugh; on very rare occasions, Limbaugh will have guests on his show, such as Vice President Dick Cheney or even President George W. Bush.

He attracted widespread attention in 1998 when he complained that some radio stations were shortening his programs by cutting out his "dramatic pauses" to make room for more commercials.

Rush Limbaugh became as much a political symbol as he was a broadcaster, and political "satirist". In 1992, President George H. W. Bush made an appearance on Limbaugh's show as part of his re-election campaign, in an effort to regain the support of the financialy conservative branch of his own party (which he had earlier alienated by breaking a pledge not to raise taxes). President George W. Bush "called in" to a live broadcast during the week of the 2004 Republican National Convention to give a preview of his nomination acceptance speech.

Limbaugh's first television exposure came with a 1990 guest host stint on Pat Sajak's late-night program on CBS. This ended badly when on one show Limbaugh got into a confrontation with some ACT-UP protesters who heckled his show and he had the studio audience cleared before continuing. A video of this event can be watched here: [4]

Limbaugh then hosted a syndicated half-hour television show running from 1992 through 1996, with Roger Ailes as executive producer. The television show discussed many of the same topics as his radio show, and was taped in front of a live audience, which he facetiously claimed had to pass an intelligence test in order to be admitted. Limbaugh claimed he ended the show due to disappointment that it was aired too late in the evening in many markets.

Deafness

By September 2001, Limbaugh's listeners had noted changes in his voice and diction, changes that Limbaugh initially did not acknowledge. However, on October 8, 2001, Limbaugh admitted that the changes in his voice were due to complete post-lingual hearing impairment in his left ear and substantial hearing loss in his right ear. He also revealed that his radio staff was aiding him in continuing to accept calls on his show, despite his rapidly progressing hearing loss by setting up a system where he could appear to hear his callers. The system worked remarkably well, but did not convince all listeners, some of whom noted a long delay between a caller ending his point and Limbaugh responding, and occasionally speaking over a caller.

In December 2001, Limbaugh underwent cochlear implant surgery, which restored a measure of hearing in one ear, and his voice and diction improved.

According to Limbaugh's doctors, Limbaugh's deafness was caused by an autoimmune disease. When Limbaugh revealed in 2003 that he was addicted to Vicodin, more than a few doctors noted a possible link between his deafness and his drug addiction that resulted from the drug abuse.[5][6]

Controversies

Limbaugh's show is noted for its the lack of a balance between liberal and conservative viewpoints on talk radio. Limbaugh's response to this is to claim the standard talking-point that most news reporting is "liberally biased" (in particular, television and newspaper news); a common saying of his is "I am equal time." He also has resorted on occasions to defend his bias by stating that he is a commentator and entertainer, not a reporter.

Limbaugh's "satire" is often juvenile and mean-spirited in nature often bordering on hate speech. For example, news about the homeless is often preceded with the Clarence "Frogman" Henry song "Ain't Got No Home". The song "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again" preceded reports about people dying of AIDS. His references to Ted Kennedy invariably discuss Kennedy's alcohol use and Chappaquiddick (he has nicknamed Kennedy "the swimmer"). He refers to Robert Byrd as "Sheets" in reference to Byrd's former membership in the KKK, and he calls Harry Reid "Dingy Harry."

Comedian and political satirist Al Franken released a book and CD titled Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (ISBN 0440508649) which, among other political humor from a liberal perspective, included harsh criticism of Limbaugh and his allegedly meager fact-finding efforts. The "Fat" portion of the title of the book was a jibe at Limbaugh's 400-pound weight during the time in which the book was first published; sometime afterwards, Limbaugh began to go on various diets and his weight dropped down to around 270 pounds (122 kg).

As of 2007 he seems to have regained much of that weight.

The group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) released a report on October 17, 1994 listing over major forty-three errors Limbaugh made during various shows. Limbaugh responded to about half of the original claims; FAIR then rebutted his rebuttal. And the rebutted rebuttals continued. For the full text of the original, the rebuttal and the rebuttal of the rebuttal, see [7], [8], and [9], respectively.

FAIR later published an entire book, The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error: Over 100 Outrageously False and Foolish Statements from America's Most Powerful Radio and TV Commentator (ISBN 156584260X), documenting numerous errors and lies by Limbaugh.

Even Limbaugh's introductory theme music has attracted controversy. Since the 1980s he has used an edited and looped version of the powerful instrumental riff from The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone", a song written by Chrissie Hynde to bemoan the effects of overdevelopment on her native Ohio. Limbaugh loved the riff, hated the message, and thought he could both attract listeners and annoy opponents by playing it. When a landmark copyright case was decided in the 1990s, musical artists gained control over their works when performed thematically. Briefly in 1999, Limbaugh was forced to suspend playing the song while negotiating with Hynde. Hynde eventually decided to allow Limbaugh to use it, with Limbaugh donating approximately $500,000/year to the animal rights organization PETA. Hynde explained that she doesn't agree with Limbaugh but her parents are big fans. [10]

As expected in a competitive environment, Limbaugh has also received criticism from other far-right competitors such as Michael Savage and The New American magazine.

ESPN controversy

In September of 2003, Limbaugh ignited a controversy [11] when, speaking as a football commentator on ESPN, he criticized the media for its high opinion of Donovan McNabb, the African-American quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. The controversy centered on his comment:

"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 ... There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

McNabb was the highest paid NFL player in history at the time [12], and defenders of Limbaugh's comments point out that McNabb had the worst start of his career in the 2003 season and was the NFL's lowest-rated starting quarterback. McNabb's defenders say that to his credit, McNabb was a runner-up for the year 2000 league Most Valuable Player, a member of three Pro Bowl teams, and led his team to two straight NFC championship games. McNabb had suffered a broken leg during the 2002 season, and had been slow to recover.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a Democratic Party candidate for President, encouraged Limbaugh's firing from ESPN, threatening a boycott of all Disney companies, including the ABC, Disneyland, and Walt Disney World. Presidential candidates Howard Dean and Wesley Clark joined in the criticism, as did the NAACP. Limbaugh responded by saying that he must have been right; otherwise, the comments would not have sparked such outrage.

On October 1, 2003, Limbaugh resigned from ESPN with the statement:

"My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret. I love NFL Sunday Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it. Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen."

Limbaugh insisted that his comments were aimed at the media, and not at McNabb or African Americans. Limbaugh fans claimed that Limbaugh's fellow commentators on the program, both of whom were themselves former African-American football players, played a role behind the scenes in ending Limbaugh's career as a football commentator. However, they made no public response to the comment, on the air or off.

Limbaugh went on to assert that his fellow members of the show being hounded by the press is what led to him stepping down:

LIMBAUGH: What happened was that some of my cast members began to be made to feel uncomfortable by the press and others who couldn't believe that they had not responded to what I said so the path of least resistance became for me to resign. [13]

Drug use and investigation

In early October 2003 and in the same week as the McNabb controversy, the National Enquirer reported that Limbaugh was being investigated for illegally buying prescription drugs. Limbaugh's former housekeeper, under investigation for drug dealing, alleged that Limbaugh was addicted to prescription opiate painkillers such as OxyContin, Lorcet (a combination of Tylenol and hydrocodone), and hydrocodone, and that he went through detox twice. Other news outlets quickly confirmed the beginnings of an investigation. The highly addictive painkillers function similarly to morphine, heroin, or a stronger form of codeine.

On October 10, 2003, Limbaugh admitted to listeners on his radio show that he was addicted to prescription painkillers and stated that he would enter inpatient treatment for 30 days, immediately following the broadcast. Limbaugh claimed his addiction to painkillers came as a result of long-term back pain he had been suffering for several years.

Limbaugh's admission of drug addiction exposed him as a hypocrite as evidenced several statements from the 1990s were found, in particular, on October 5, 1995:

"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."

and in 1998:

"What is missing in the drug fight is legalization. If we want to go after drugs with the same fervor and intensity with which we go after cigarettes, let's legalize drugs. Legalize the manufacture of drugs. License the Cali cartel. Make them taxpayers, and then sue them. Sue them left and right, and then get control of the price, and generate tax revenue from it. Raise the price sky high, and fund all sorts of other wonderful social programs."

An investigation into "doctor shopping" is ongoing in the state of Florida. Limbaugh's attorney Roy Black claims that the chief county prosecutor investigating Limbaugh, an elected Democrat, is politically motivated. In an ironic turn of events, the ACLU, an organization often lambasted by Limbaugh and other far-right ideologues, has come to his defense, claiming that the district attorney violated Limbaugh's constitutional rights by "fishing" through his private medical records.

Addicted to OxyContin

In October 2003, under criticism and closer scrutiny for alleging an African American football player was being promoted for his race, Limbaugh admitted he was addicted to OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride), a long-acting slow-release opiod. Limbaugh checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic.

Upon returning to his program, Limbaugh lashed out at investigators who served warrants on Dec. 4 at offices of several physicians who he had visited. Search warrants indicated investigators suspect Limbaugh shopped for doctors willing to prescribe opiods, tranquilizers and anxiolytics.[14]

Abu Ghraib: "a brilliant maneuver" that was "pretty effective"

"The babes are meting out the torture. ... it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. ... this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie." [15]
"This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?" [16]
"I think the reaction to the stupid torture is an example of the feminization of this country." [17]
"Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation ... Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver. Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured. But boy there was a lot of humiliation of people who are trying to kill us -- in ways they hold dear. Sounds pretty effective to me if you look at us in the right context."
"[I]f you have the passwords to these various porn sites, you can see things like this ... [Maybe the soldiers] are simply acting out what they've on these websites or something, just for the fun of it. Or maybe other reasons." [18]
"... there's a lot of false phony concern for these Iraqi detainees. This is not about people genuinely outraged about this. ... The Democrats and the media don't give a rat's rear end about what happened to those prisoners. ... It's all political. They don't give a hoot about those prisoners." [19]
"I mean, don't be surprised if [liberal financier] George Soros puts up a few hundred million dollars for a torture institute at the new torture university to teach people how it's really done, to show how Bush and Rumsfeld are inept." [20]


AFRTS controversy

On May 26, 2004, the article "Rush's Forced Conscripts" appeared on the online news and opinion magazine Salon.com. The article discussed the controversy surrounding the fact that American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), (which describes itself as "[providing] stateside radio and television programming, 'a touch of home', to U.S. service men and women, DoD civilians, and their families serving outside the continental United States"), carries the first hour of Limbaugh's show. Melvin Russell, director of AFRTS, defended Limbaugh's presence, by pointing to Limbaugh's high ratings in the US: "We look at the most popular shows broadcast here in the United States and try to mirror that. [Limbaugh] is the No. 1 talk show host in the States; there's no question about that. Because of that we provide him on our service."

Critics have pointed out that other programs, such as the Howard Stern show, which draws eight million listeners a week is absent from AFRTS.

On June 14, 2004, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced an amendment to the 2004 Defense Authorization bill that called for AFRTS to fulfill its stated goal of providing political balance in its news and public affairs programming. The amendment passed unanimously in the Senate. Limbaugh responded by calling the move "censorship". On his June 17 radio show, he commented that: "This is a United States senator [Tom Harkin] amending the Defense appropriations bill with the intent being to get this program - only one hour of which is carried on Armed Forces Radio - stripped from that network." The amendment never became law. As of April 2005, the first hour of Limbaugh's show is still on AFRTS. Rush Limbaugh visited US forces in Afghanistan in 2005.

Divorce

On Friday, June 11 2004, Limbaugh announced that he was separating from his third wife Marta after ten years of marriage. Limbaugh indicated that he initiated the divorce. They had originally met via the online service Compuserve.

It was not Limbaugh first divorce but infact his third.

Grotesque, also Insensitive

On October 25, 2006, Limbaugh claimed Michael J. Fox as "either off his medication or was acting" in his campaign television advertisement about stem cell research for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. Alerted to the public reaction to his statements, Limbaugh quickly apologized. Source: Jonathan Alter. "Progress or Not Michael J. Fox’s Political Ads Supporting Stem-Cell Research Are Not Only in Good Taste, They’re Vital to the Public Discourse." Newsweek. October 25, 2006. Text

In an interview with Katie Couric on CBVS News, the beloved 45 year old actor retorted that Limbaugh, "used the word victim and on another occasion used the word pitiable. ... We don't want pity. I could give a damn about Rush Limbaugh's pity or anyone else's pity. I'm not a victim." Source: n.a. "Fox Rushes to Stem Pity." New York Daily News. October 27, 2006. Text

Misc.

Limbaugh's brother, David Limbaugh, an attorney, is also a regular contributor to conservative media outlets WorldNetDaily, Townhall.com, and The Washington Times.

2007

Limbaugh may have finaly sealed his fate when he called any self identifying soldier (including veterans) who oppose the war in Iraq a phoney who has never served.

2009

Even Pat Robertson is sick of his antics.

2009 Racism

"Obama is behaving like an African colonial despot and you can see it in his healthcare legislation, the stimulus bill, taking over automobile companies, the czars that he has that are not accountable to anybody but him and now the climate bill. All of this is about nothing other than the acquisition of power and the ability to further regulate your privacy and behavior."

References

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