Not being much of a fan of human beings, I haven’t had many heroes in my life. When I do, I am extremely loyal to them, but if/when they tumble from that pedestal, I am not at all forgiving. Losing Tiger Woods, for instance, was a major blow to my psyche. Now, officially and perhaps belatedly, I must put Rush Limbaugh into the category of former idols who have fallen so hard and fast that it makes me question everything I thought that I knew about them.
If there had never been a Rush Limbaugh I am quite sure that, for better or worse, I never would have gone into talk radio (which was my career for most of about a twenty year period). My now-deceased grandfather worshiped Limbaugh, and while I knew enough about the very flawed business to realize that no one in it is remotely perfect, I believed him to be a once in a generation talent who was also a key figure in the history of conservatism. I still consider what he has been able to do since losing his hearing to be perhaps the greatest achievement in modern broadcasting.
At one point, I was on the list of hosts to fill in for him, but that never actually happened (it surely would have been a disaster). I have never met Rush, but have had quite a bit of mutually productive email communication with him, and he has spoken about me on the air several times.
Over the past year and a half, I have been rather tough on Rush for what I perceived as extremely soft treatment of Donald Trump, who I see as neither remotely conservative nor qualified to be the President of the United States. Having been jaded by seeing up close just how corrupt the “conservative” media really is, I was not shocked by what Rush was doing. However, much like a diehard Tiger Woods fan still clinging to the fantasy that he will ever make a legitimate comeback, I was able to rationalize that at least Rush wasn’t the very worst offender, and that there were mitigating circumstances.
After all, while I disagreed both philosophically and strategically with the “BUT HILLARY!!” explanation given for support of Trump, at least that was a logically defensible position (at least before we actually saw what kind of president Trump would really be). However, what we have seen in the last couple of weeks is a sure sign that Rush has either completely sold out the last remnants of his dignity to Trump, or has been stricken with a severe case of “Trumpsanity,” a disease for which there is no known cure.
There are two recent stories in particular which proved to me that the Rush Limbaugh I once thought so highly of is either dead, or never really existed in the first place.
The first is the bat-crap crazy conspiracy theory, mostly championed by Sean Hannity, that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, rather than Russian hacking, was the source of the Democratic email leaks during the campaign. As I have previously explained in great detail, this “theory,” is simply both insane and without a semblance of logic or evidence behind it. Even Fox News has pulled away from its own reporting on the story, though Hannity himself has yet to accept reality.
Now, it is one thing for Sean Hannity to be duped by this kind of bullcrap. His willingness to embarrass himself to please his King Donald has already been shown to be literally limitless.
But like most conservatives who have been a fan of Rush, I have always seen him as being in a completely different league from Hannity. To people like me, Rush was The Beatles, while Sean was more like The Monkeys.
Surely, I figured, Rush would see through this dangerous nuttiness. While his fear of offending Trump Cult members (who now represent a huge percentage of talk radio’s shrinking core audience) would probably keep him from actively debunking the Seth Rich conspiracy, surely I he would at least ignore this nonsense. Instead, he fanned the flames of this folly.
The second story was that of newly-minted GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte, who won his special election in Montana the day after having assaulted a reporter in an act caught on tape and witnessed by Fox News reporters. While many knuckle-dragging Trump Cultists were hailing this disgraceful act as a victory in the war against the “Fake News” media, the Rush Limbaugh from the pre-Trump era would have been expected to take a more reasonable and consistent stance.
After all, Rush would be all over a Democrat who did anything like that to a Breitbart reporter and we all know that the great Rush Limbaugh couldn’t possibly be so overtly hypocritical… oh, wait, there’s that Russia thing… never mind.
In reality, Rush went as far as he possibly could to justify and glorify the attack on the reporter (who is a young liberal and therefore apparently deserved it) while also paying lip service to sort of condemning the assault itself. It was all far too reminiscent of how Rush tends to handle most of Trump’s inappropriate actions, all of which he would crucify a Democrat for doing the same, or even less.
You see, the number one rule of talk radio these days is that you can NOT displease the Trump Cult because then you will lose a very significant chunk of this audience not exactly known for their intellectual embrace of differing opinions and challenging information. But this sad reality is what makes Rush being forced to into figurative slavery by these elements so incredibly pathetic.
Rush Limbaugh has more money and fame than he could possibly ever know what to do with. It is baffling to me that, at this point, he even cares at all about pleasing the Trump Cult, or anyone for that matter. In fact, if Rush had simply stuck to his past principles and called out Trump consistently and vociferously his show would have instantly become the most compelling program in opinion broadcasting.
Yes, he would have lost audience, stations, and probably been surpassed by Hannity as the host with the largest radio audience, but his ultimate legacy would have actually been greatly enhanced. Heck, he even would have finally gotten some of the mainstream media love which has always eluded him.
But now, it is all too late. Rush has sealed his legacy. He was, at best, just the right guy at the right time who built an empire and then was afraid to even risk just a little of it in order to prevent conservatism from being destroyed by an obvious conman. He is now forever inextricably tied to Trump, and history shows us that most people in that position end up looking worse than that Tiger Woods mugshot.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.