People Across the Political Spectrum Are Indebted to Rush Limbaugh

If you’re my age, you remember the pre-cable television universe of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. It consisted of three networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS. You also remember that at 6:30 every evening, the vast majority of the country was seated in front of their televisions for the evening news — their principal source of information on the issues and events of the day.

The three anchors were liberals. All of the reporters were liberal. The editors and producers were liberals. The Left had a veritable monopoly on news, information, and entertainment in those days, to which I’m sure they refer as the ‘glory days.’

The late Neil Peart wrote in the song ‘Subdivisions,’ a song about growing up in the suburbs: “Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone.” For conservatives, it was the news and entertainment universe where they always felt so alone.

Rank and file conservatives watched, listened, and read the only news that was available at the time. And they all scratched their heads because some of it just didn’t sit right with them. Intuitively, they knew what was presented and how it was presented was out of sync with their views. They saw the difference in how the media treated Reagan in comparison to how it treated Carter; how it treated Kemp and Dole compared to how it treated O’Neill and Moynihan. In the silence of a three-network, no-internet no-social media world, though, they thought they were alone and maybe a little crazy.

Sure, conservatives had William Safire, the token conservative among a hundred liberal reporters and editors at the New York Times, but Joe & Mary SixPack weren’t reading the Times. There was also the intellectual giant, William F. Buckley, but he and his Firing Line show were relegated to PBS, a mom-and-pop shop in a news industry dominated by the Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Costco of ABC, NBC, and CBS.

In 1988, however, a voice began emanating from radio speakers in homes, in cars, and in workplaces across the country. He talked politics but in a very different way. This host was funny and irreverent. Most importantly, he was a conservative and he took great pleasure in not simply addressing the issues of the day from that viewpoint, but in tearing down the veil that protected liberalism from scrutiny lo those many years prior. Rush Limbaugh’s popularity grew almost overnight and he became a force in the national conversation.

Conservatives finally had a national, unifying voice. Suddenly it was ok for conservatives to come out of the shadows to which they had been relegated.

When the Left and the mainstream media finally accepted Rush’s success, they felt the threat to their fiefdom. They attacked and accused Rush of only providing one side of a story or an issue. They demanded he be balanced in his approach. To that he replied with his best, and perhaps most memorable line, “I am the balance.” No truer words had ever been spoken.

What is critical to understanding the meteoric rise and unparalleled success of Limbaugh’s show is this: Rush’s listeners didn’t tune in because they agreed with him. They tuned in because he agreed with them. That’s an important distinction. Limbaugh didn’t create “ditto heads.” They had always existed, a silent seam of gold — coast-to-coast wide and twenty million listeners deep –pressed beneath the political landscape into which Limbaugh sunk his pick axe.

When callers had the opportunity to speak to Rush, the rest of his listeners didn’t just hear Joe from Syracuse or Linda from Lubbock. They heard themselves and felt the warmth of the spontaneous camaraderie with like-minded people they knew must have existed but had been kept hidden and silent.

Limbaugh connected where Buckley failed to do so.

Buckley was deliberate and measured in his speech. He spoke in $25 words. His language was champagne, caviar, and brie and he spoke for the upper management conservatives. Rush used the straightforward ‘beer, burgers, and dogs’ language of the working class conservative. Buckley was a brilliant stuffed shirt. Limbaugh was an irreverent flamethrower. Buckley sat his opponents down and eloquently and methodically reduced their arguments to ashes. Limbaugh tossed molotov cocktails through their windows.

Predictably, his detractors are seizing on a handful of quotes from Rush’s show in an effort to discredit and smear him. They are cherry-picking a handful of statements Rush has made over the course of his three decades plus on the air. Having spent three hours per day, five days per week, fifty weeks per year for thirty-two years behind a microphone (that’s more than 24,000 hours for those of you in Rio Linda), surely it is expected for passion and pressure to get to any host and a comment or two that crossed the line slipped through. These immaculate, virgin-tongued detractors would have you believe that they themselves, nor their liberal heroes, have ever in 24,000 hours of conversation allowed a single comment to come from their mouths that they ultimately regret. We know better. We know the only difference between them and Limbaugh is the fact that their comments are forever in the untraceable ether while Rush’s have been recorded for posterity.

Radio has given way to podcasters and YouTubers. Despite the change in delivery method, though, each of these thousands of new-medium hosts, whether they be conservative, liberal, libertarian, or any political stripe along the political spectrum, can trace their freedom and opportunity to make their voices heard all the way back to a ‘harmless little fuzzball’ from Cape Girardeau, Missouri named Rush Limbaugh.

Even if you’re not online as one of these podcasters or YouTubers, you are probably one of the millions who have searched for and finally found a podcaster or YouTuber that agrees with you and speaks for you. You finally found your voice in theirs. You also found comfort in the fact that you’re not alone and you’re not crazy.

And that, my friend, is your gift from Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee, Rush Limbaugh.


Do We Even Need News Media Anymore?

Last Tuesday (January 24th), I watched Sean Spicer’s entire press conference, unfiltered, on It lasted forty-four minutes and thirty seconds. There were 37 questions asked that covered nearly as many topics. A sampling of those topics includes the ACA, NAFTA, the Keystone pipeline, Israel, a shield law for journalists, race relations, NATO, potential supreme court nominee, and planned meetings with Congressional caucuses.

If, instead of watching the press conference, you watched the news that afternoon or evening, or if you watched your Facebook newsfeed that day, all you heard about was President Trump’s comment made during the presidential campaign regarding voter fraud. Forty-four minutes, thirty-seven questions, and more than twenty topics, yet all the media pushed was ‘voter fraud.’ This is how the media ever so subtly begins to divide people and pushes an agenda – their agenda.

Those of us who watched that press conference also noticed that an agenda was being pushed by the reporters themselves. Of the 37 questions asked, six concerned the voter fraud comment. Even though Spicer answered the first question about it, reporters weren’t satisfied. Five more insisted on asking the same question—and I do mean the same question. Spicer calmly and professionally answered the question all six times the question was asked, giving all the information a person could have possibly given each time. Clearly, it wasn’t just the news organizations that wanted the press conference filtered down to one topic. The reporters present decided that they wanted the story to be ‘voter fraud.’ The reporters decided that rather than tell the whole story of the press conference, they would push one topic – and it would be one of their choosing.

Likewise, I watched the inauguration on C-Span. There was no commentary from hosts, just the raw footage of all the events of that day. There was no one with a camera and microphone telling viewers what or how to think or view the events. C-Span simply let the events unfold. What made it even better was the viewer’s ability to hear the chatter among the people present on the stage – political friends and rivals greeting each other and sharing some small talk. C-Span respected its viewers enough to allow them to make their own judgments about the events unfolding before them. To fill some air time, a host aired calls from viewers, but never interfered or challenged them. The question was simply, “Do you support President Trump or not?” Callers gave their view and the host simply said, ‘thank you’ and took the next call.

In this golden age of access to information – at its source, organic, and unfiltered – why do we still rely on news organizations that are biased (present on each side of the political aisle) and determined to jam a day’s worth of information into one-minute sound bites? Why have it edited and packaged by someone or group that will infuse it with his/her/their own bias and agenda? We can all go right to the source and we can all have a common starting point rather than coming to discussions on events and policy with prepackaged information that includes a bias?

Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way advocating for the elimination of the fourth estate. We need investigative journalists. We need those watchmen and women to keep those in power in check. For the most part, though, in recent decades, they have failed us. They no longer report the news. They make the news, determining an outcome before getting the full story or putting their own political views and leanings above the objective truth. Worse, even those stories get further diluted and distorted in order to fit them into sound bites for the attention-deficit population at large and in between the commercial breaks. It does not serve us well and we no longer need the news programs of ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Their time has passed.

Perhaps it’s time to finally confront the 800 pound gorilla in the room and admit the ‘objective journalist’ is and always has been nothing but a mythical creature, no more real than the tooth fairy and unicorns. No human being is without bias, no matter how much one protests to the contrary. Each of us take with us into each of our daily encounters, discussions, jobs, and education the sum of all of our learning, experiences, and opinions up to that point. Unfortunately, we also take our pride with us, as well. That may be the worst of all companions, for it is that one that is the obstinate guardian at the gates of learning. Pride is the end of learning and if allowed to rule the roost of our emotions, will prevent us from reading or learning from the research, thoughts, and ideas from those from the opposite side of the argument. That’s bad enough for us as consumers of information. It is a disqualifying trait for a journalist.

We also can no longer accept factually wrong stories or fake news to be swept under the rug with unapologetic and half-hearted retraction. The average person pays little attention to the retraction and, to keep feeding their pride and hope in the initial fake/factually incorrect story, burn into their minds the original story, cementing it into their subconscious as fact the next time they’re in the voting booth. I still have ill-informed people puking debunked stories into my Facebook newsfeed – the seven countries chosen by Trump are because of business ties, the cabinet wasn’t briefed on the immigration executive order, etc. The originators of the fake story accomplished its goal of planting the seed in the gullible minds. Pay no attention to that retraction behind the curtain.

If, then, we are ready to admit that objective journalism is an impossibility, it is incumbent upon each of us to be more vigilant in pursuit of knowledge, the truth, and the best possible solutions. To accept that truth means we will need to seek information beyond our favorite places. In effect, we are committing to becoming our own investigative journalist. Are you ready to look at situations from different angles? Are you humble enough to accept that you just might learn something from the other side?

You will not be alone or without resources in your pursuit of the whole truth. When it comes to bigger policy discussions, there are great resources available that provide excellent research and white papers – in other words, they’ve done all the Googling and so much more for you. Granted, they will have a bias, but the thoughtful person will go to multiple resources and gather information from the liberal, conservative, and libertarian perspectives before offering an argument. Plus, each will provide a far more in-depth analysis of the subject matter.

Here are the most popular think tanks:

Center for American Progress:
Center for Budget & Policy:
Human Rights Watch:

The Heritage Foundation:
The Hoover Institution:
American Enterprise Institute:

The Cato Institute:
The Reason Foundation:

Each of the above has its own YouTube channel, as well, if you prefer viewing to reading.

If we all just cocoon ourselves in our own politically comfortable echo chambers, we will never grow beyond our own self-imposed intellectual limitations, nor will we ever develop empathy for those who disagree with us or their positions. We will also limit ourselves as a society to nothing more than an endless series of building up and tearing down as political winds and majorities shift, never really advancing along the way. Rather than say to yourself, ‘How could they possibly think that way?’ read what their best researchers are putting forth and find out the ‘how’ and the ‘why.’ If you are too afraid to do that – too afraid that what you see may cause you to doubt your own position – that may very well be a good thing. Perhaps your position isn’t as well founded as you believe.

Though since debunked, I believe the basic tenets of the theory of right-brain, left-brain driving personality and problem-solving are true. There are those of us that lead with cold logic and facts and those that lead with the heart and compassion. We must realize that the best answers and solutions come from a melding of the two. Just as in marriage between a man and woman, each bringing to the table their own qualities, it is the sum total that becomes more powerful than the parts. The joint decisions, the joint planning, the joint desires are better, more powerful and more capable of moving the marriage and its participants to a better place. We need to demand that of ourselves and our elected officials.

Here’s to the hope that we can elevate the conversation.