A Rush to Ruin
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P.J. O’Rourke: “It’s the twilight of the radio loudmouth, you know? I knew it from the moment the fat guy —“
Host Bill Maher: “You mean Rush Limbaugh and Sean –”
O’Rourke: “– from the moment the fat guy refused to share his drugs....”
Maher: “You mean the Oxycontin that he was on?...Why couldn’t he have croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?” — HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, February 8, 2008.
Democrats inside and outside the Obama White House have declared a Public Enemy Number One, and it isn’t some vague concept like Poverty or Terrorism or Cancer. It’s a radio talk show host named Rush Limbaugh. Over the years, liberals haven’t just wished his wildly popular radio program would fail. Some have wished he were dead, on national television.
On October 13, MSNBC host Chris Matthews compared Limbaugh to Mr. Big, a villain in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die: “I have to tell you, Rush Limbaugh is looking more and more like Mr. Big, and at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp. That day may come. Not yet. But we’ll be there to watch.”
On May 9, Obama-supporting comedian Wanda Sykes was selected by the White House Correspondents Association as their annual dinner entertainment. It was unclear whether Sykes was joking or just editorializing when she claimed that when Limbaugh said he hoped Obama fails, she declared, “He wants the country to fail. To me, that’s treason. He’s not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, Sir [to Obama], because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight....Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails, I hope his kidneys fail, how ‘bout that?”
The media’s guardians of civility, the same people who arranged this national stage for death wishes, could barely speak a discouraging word. NBC briefly cited the joke “some say” went “too far” as they highlighted their story’s larger theme on screen: “Is Limbaugh a Liability To The GOP?” (It wasn’t: “Is Sykes a Liability To the National Media?”) CNN offered both Sykes and Limbaugh their award for “Wingnuts of the Week.”
Limbaugh recently joined a group seeking to purchase the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams, which spurred the latest attempt by the American Left to drive Limbaugh off the radio and far away from a place in the mainstream of American life. Limbaugh and his tens of millions of listeners are routinely placed by the media on the menacing fringes.
Almost from the beginning of his nationally syndicated radio show in 1988, Limbaugh has brought out the worst in journalists who are supposed to honor fairness and accuracy. They have presented Limbaugh not merely as a commentator, but as a clear and present danger who must be curtailed. Network stars have showed more neutrality toward the humanity of Saddam Hussein than they allowed for an American talk-radio host.