Thursday, August 1, 2013

Marking 25 Years of Excrement In Broadcasting

Rush Limbaugh has now been syndicated for 25 years. It has been over 10 years since I have listened to him at all. I stopped listening after I complained to a co-worker after lunch about something I heard Limbaugh say.

My co-worker asked, "Why do you listen to him?"

I replied that I only listen critically.

He said, "but you give him ratings and that's what he cares about most."

I thought about it and he was right. So I stopped listening. But the following are some of my criticisms back when I listened to him first-hand. For more recent Limbaugh lies, Media Matters now tracks those for us. So without further ado...

Quick Quiz: What do G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, Rush Limbaugh, and Ted Nugent have in common?

Did you say convicted criminals? Wrong.
Only Liddy and North are actually criminals, and, besides, North's conviction was overturned on a technicality.

Let's see, Liddy worked for Nixon, North was in the military, Ted Nugent is a rock star, and Rush Limbaugh is a conservative talk show host. But wait, Liddy also has a talk show, so does North, but Ted Nugent? That's right, even Ted Nugent. All four are conservative talk show hosts.

Brief History of Talk Radio
Talk radio was first heard after 11 PM on top 40 radio stations. KABC became the first all-talk station in 1962. Gradually, many "impartial" hosts were replaced by opinionated ones. Now with no fairness doctrine in sight, conservatives proliferate the airwaves with their views.

Although not alone, Rush Limbaugh epitomizes this group, which I like to call "rechtsdreck‏ radio." Rechtsdreck is the German word for "garbage right." And no, I am not inferring that conservative radio has anything in common with some, limited aspects of 1930s fascism in Europe, I am implying it. You can infer it!

Focusing on Rush Limbaugh, now Senator Al Franken wrote a book called Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations. A lot of people had big problems with this title. Even I have a small problem with it, namely, there should be a comma between the adjectives "big" and "fat." I gleaned this Rush-Limbaugh timeline from that book:

  • Rush Limbaugh was born in 1951. At age 16 he got his first job in radio--at his father's radio station. In 1969 he enrolled in college. In 1970 he dropped out, but still avoided service in the Vietnam War.
  • From 1974-1978 he was hired by 4 radio stations
  • In 1977 he married for the first time
  • In the early 80s he divorced and remarried. He got back into radio after working for the Kansas City Royals. In 1984 he began work in Sacramento where his syndication began.
  • After revelations in  a newspaper column that he had never done so, in 1986 Limbaugh first registered to vote.
  • In 1989 he divorced for the second time
  • In 1992 his best-selling book railed against "uglo-Americans," "environmentalist wackos," and "feminazis." Its 1994 sequel denounced negativity.
  • In the mid 90s he married for the third time. He also spreads rumors like the one about Vince Foster being murdered.
  • In 1994 the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1955. Instead of listening to professors of political science and policy wonks, Congressional newcomers are lectured by Rush Limbaugh.
It has been my experience that listeners of Rush Limbaugh tend to be ill-informed, yet confident about what they think they know at the same time. Psychologist might call this the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I call it a "Limbaughtomy." Multiplied multiplicities and multitudinous examples of Limbaugh-misinformation could be sighted, but here are three:
  1. Limbaugh has claimed, "There are more American Indians today than when Columbus arrived."
  2. "There are more acres of forestland today than when Columbus [arrived]."
  3. Even if polar ice caps melted by the greenhouse effect, the oceans' water level would not increase.
The facts are quite the opposite:
  1.  The Native American population has decreased in what is now the U.S. by at least 60%.
  2. America has at least 250 million less acres of forest than in Columbus's time.
  3. Ice melted off land, such as from on Antarctica and Greenland, would supply more water for oceans, increasing their levels. Hence, these are not just like ice cubes floating in water. There is water flowing from land into the oceans.
Rechtsdreck Radio, a phrase I have coined on my blog, is replete with Rush Limbaugh and Rush Limbaugh wannabees who claim to be bastions of truth in opposition to the "liberal" media (by which they don't mean just MSNBC, the former radio "Air America," or soon-to-be-former Current TV, but NPR and The New York Times).

Except for the egregious highlights (or should I write "lowlights?") I see on Media Matters, I no longer listen to Rechtsdreck Radio (or the video version, Fox News [sic], for that matter). I simply don't waste the time getting pulled into parallel universes where Hillary Clinton rubbed out Vince Foster, Styrofoam is biodegradable, and cigarettes don't cause cancer. That is the way Rush Limbaugh wants it to be, but not the way it is.