From ‘Common Cold’ to ‘Cannibalism’: Rush Limbaugh’s Whiplash-Inducing Evolution on the Covid Pandemic

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

In the space of less than five months, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has gone from haughtily dismissing the coronavirus as nothing more threatening than the “common cold” to scolding Americans for not adapting to the raging pandemic in the manner of the hardy pioneers of the Donner Party, who infamously only survived a deadly winter crossing of the Rockies by restoring to cannibalism.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom winner made this last, gruesome analogy during his Tuesday radio show, with the national fatalities from the Covid-19 outbreak surpassing 136,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. But back on February 24, the same day that the WHO Director General warned Covid-19 had “pandemic potential” — and nearly one month after the organization had declared a “global health emergency” because of the virus’ serious nature — Limbaugh was airily dismissing the risks of the outbreak to his listeners.

“I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus,” Limbaugh intoned. “The coronavirus is the common cold, folks. The drive-by media hype of this thing, as a pandemic as the Andromeda Strain as ‘Oh my God, if you get it, you’re dead!’ Do you know what the, I think the survival rate is 98%.”

“It probably is a ChiCom laboratory experiment that is in the process of being weaponized,” he added, pushing a completely unfounded conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was created in a lab. “It’s really being hyped as a deadly Andromeda Strain kind of Ebola pandemic,” he added, before launching into a mock hysterical voice: “‘Oh my God, it’s going to wipe out the nation! It’s going to wipe out the population of the world!'”

“Two percent of the people who get the coronavirus die, that’s less than the flu, folks!” Limbaugh falsely claimed, as Covid-19 has death rates that are, in fact, many multiples of the typical flu, according to an analysis in the Journal of American Medical Association. “Do not misunderstand, I’m not trying to let you get your guard down. Nobody wants to get any of this stuff. I hate getting the common cold. You don’t want to get the flu, it’s miserable. But we’re not talking about something that’s going to wipe out your town our your city if it finds its’ way there.”

Limbaugh then circled back to suggest that the outbreak was a manufactured crisis driven by sensationalizing press corps. “This is a classic illustration of how media coverage, even if this media coverage isn’t stacked, even if this just the way media normally does things. This is a hyped, panic-filled version exactly how the media deals with these things to create audience, interest, readership, clicks, what have you.”

But five months, and 580,000 global deaths later, Limbaugh was striking a vert different tone, admonishing his listeners on Tuesday to buck up and accept that the fatal risks from the coronavirus are now just part of the everyday American landscape. Calling out the country for being “cowering and fearful and almost giving up in the face of this enemy, Covid-19,” Limbaugh branded the response of many to the virus as “Unamerican.”

“This is turning people into victims, which is making them feel like they have no blame, they can stop living, they can having to accomplish or even try hard things” Limbaugh said of the coronavirus, “because there’s this deadly thing out there that might kill them. This is not who we are.”

Instead, he said Americans should get over the “convenient excuse” of the apparently now very real threat of the outbreak and urged them to simply adapt to life with the virus. “Like the Donner Party,” he said, moments later, making a bizarre historical analogy. “A bunch of travelers trying to get to California over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. They made the mistake of trying to make the trip in the middle of winter. We’re taking the Lake Tahoe region. They get to the peak, it was so bad that they had to turn to cannibalism to survive. That’s what’s noteworthy about the Donner Party. If you read the diaries, written by the leaders of the Donner Party, the only reference to how cold it was is one sentence: ‘It was a particularly tough winter.’ It’s just what was. They didn’t complain about it, because there was nothing they could do. They had to adapt.”

“That’s what’s missing,” Limbaugh then said, linking the unspeakable horror of eating fellow humans for survival to accepting greater risks in the face of what was, by his estimation, merely a “common cold” back in February. “There’s seems to be no concept of adaptation. There seems to be no understanding in the Millennial generation that we can adapt to this and that we’re going to have to.”

Clips above via The Rush Limbaugh Show.

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