The name evokes anger, fury, untold wrath. For months, high-ranking Democratic Party members have peered down their barrels and taken potshots at the golden-microphone-wielding conservative commentator who, over the past two decades, has formed the country's most popular talk radio show.
Most recently, the last two weeks saw a barrage of attacks launched at Rush in response to his participation in a group of investors aspiring to purchase the St. Louis Rams. To many, it may seem that the cigar aficionado is the manifestation of hypocrisy, demagoguery, obesity, and the evils that neo-conservatism has wrought on mankind. It's also simple to understand why so many people would have this view: the reporting on Rush Limbaugh, perhaps more than on any other subject, is skewed and distorted to an astonishing degree. But why?
The fact is, minus commercials, Rush talks on the radio for two hours a day, five days a week. He's not there to brainwash a nation; he simply talks about what he wants to talk about, with topics ranging from professional football to ""24.""
Unlike failed liberal talk show hosts such as Al Franken, he's popular — incredibly popular. The 2003 Rush Limbaugh Show had roughly 20,000 listeners a week, about a quarter of the regularly voting population, judging by the 2006 US election turnout. Facing this, newspaper and television sources from the growingly-biased New York Times and the traditionally biased Communist News Network to the staunchly biased MSNBC have seen a strong media opponent and have been ready to smear.
When the media saw the opportunity for smearing Rush out of the Rams investment group, smear away they did. It wasn't enough, however, for reporters to go their typical dishonest route of paraphrasing cherry-picked, out-of-context quotes. This time, nearly every leftist news reporter seemed to jump on a bandwagon fueled by entirely fabricated statements, and as usual, nearly all (minus Anderson Cooper) failed or stalled in acknowledging their ferocious lies. They shamelessly attributed Rush with supposedly praising slavery and, according to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, proposing to award a Congressional Medal of Honor to Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin.
Yet the dishonest hit-and-run techniques of the media are nothing new. True, Fox News' opinion commentators — and their counterparts on other networks — are opinionated and often annoying, but the pre-Fox networks have had a long history of praising the left, pouncing on the right, and masquerading it as reporting the news. Rush and later Glenn Beck railed against Acorn's corruption, and then America watched as the other news sources begrudgingly shifted from ignoring the facts to countering and then finally, as if being held at gunpoint, reporting them. Nonetheless, there are two new elements in the Rush scenario, one ridiculous and the other ominous.
The ridiculous part is that the main opposition bloc to Rush' participation in the Rams investment called Rush ""divisive"" and ""racist,"" but was comprised of individuals such as Al Sharpton, a man whose riot-inspiring divisiveness need not be fabricated. The bloc also includes NFL heads and sportswriters who follow in the footsteps of the rest of the news business in using ""racism"" to reflect their contempt for conservatives, black or white. The misperception is that the whole NFL hates Limbaugh, theoretically since he's obviously a Level 76 Grand Dragon white supremacist.
The ominous element at play is how Democrats and radical Obama administration officials have taken this as another excuse to set up their critics as enemies of the country. Are they really stupid enough to think that Rush's desire for a radical leftist agenda to fail means that he wants America's economy to fail? Of course not. It's a simple distraction from getting pummeled on the health care issue. Leading Democratic figures, putting aside their responsibilities to their constituents, do all they can under the banner of anti-racism to beat up Rush, ""the leader of the Republican Party,"" and Fox News, ""a wing of the Republican Party."" Can people really believe that the honesty of Rush and Fox reporters is questioned by people who lie for a living?
In reality, there's no way Rush Limbaugh would be so popular, and that the political left would hate him so much, if he wasn't an enviably decent guy. When I was small, I used to think that the purpose of the radio was to listen to Rush. He jokes, doesn't take himself too seriously, and he's spent decades dedicated, first and foremost, to defending traditional liberty in America.
Sure, Limbaugh may not be a saint, but he's not running for President. He doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to agree with everything he says, but if you want to know what Rush's opinion is, tune in and take his word for it.
— Daniel Greenberg is a Near Eastern studies senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org