How Rush Limbaugh Poisoned American Politics
Rolling Stone - February 17, 2021
When Rush Limbaugh, the Great Bloviater of the AM dial, signed off from the “Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies,” two days before Christmas, he warned the faithful in the raspy remains of his famous trumpeting baritone: “The day is gonna come, folks, where I’m not going to be able to do this anymore.”
For 13 terrible days in Trumpland — while the mad president that Limbaugh helped make possible was flailing for survival, while the faithful were trying to “stop the steal” of the election, and even while the Republicans blew their Senate majority in the Georgia runoffs — the loudest voice in the right-wing echo chamber remained silent. By the time January 6th rolled around, even the millions of fans praying for a miracle cancer cure had to figure: If Rush had passed up the chance to fearmonger about Raphael Warnock’s old sermons and mock Jon Ossoff’s hair, well, he must be finished. At least with his trademark golden microphone, if not with this earthly realm.
But then, a miracle: The president incited a white riot on Capitol Hill, and like a mortally wounded superhero detecting cries of distress from his people, Limbaugh got himself to his Palm Beach studio by noon the next day, and unleashed a master class in state-of-the-art conservative disinformation. He knew the drill. He’d pretty much invented it.
First, a signature move: Belittle the story as partisan hysteria from the lamestream media while sneaking in a big, exonerating lie. “All of a sudden, protesting Congress is being called the end of the world!” Limbaugh sneered, making use of his rested voice. “A bloody coup attempt! Even though the only blood spilled was that of an unarmed Trump supporter.”
Rioting? Looting? Blue Lives lost? Uncle Rush was here to remind everyone that those are things that the left, especially the “anti-American” Black Lives Matter, does all the time. “They’ve burned down political federal courthouses, after barricading people inside of them. They’ve taken over freeways. They’ve taken over entire cities,” Limbaugh said. Contrast that with the harmless shenanigans at the Capitol. “Yeah, I know they breached the doors and took some selfies.” But, folks, really — just look at who was in Washington on January 6th! “These are Republicans, they don’t raise mayhem,” Limbaugh scoffed. “They don’t know how. How many times have we sat here over 30 years bemoaning the fact that this is not what Republicans do?” A master touch there: So far were the “rioters” from actually rioting, one can only wish they had raised just a little hell while they were there, like the blacks and antifa do.
Then, of course, after he dramatically made the case that there was no violent insurrection on January 6th, Limbaugh justified and praised the violent insurrection on January 6th. “We’re supposed to be horrified by the protesters,” he said, feigning perplexity. “There’s a lot of people out there calling for an end to violence” — even, can you believe it, “a lot of conservatives, social media, who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.” Pause for effect, here it comes: “I am glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual tea-party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord, didn’t feel that way.”
As Limbaugh surely hoped and expected, social media lit up with both “dittoheads” — shorthand, in Rush World, for 100 percent agreement with the host — and denunciations, as headlines quickly sprouted: “Limbaugh Compares Capitol Hill Riot to American Revolution,” “Limbaugh Dismisses Calls to End Violence After Mob Hits Capitol.” (On the next day’s show, he humble-bragged: “I did it on purpose. … I wanted to take the hit yesterday. I was attempting to take the flak and the incoming for Donald Trump.”) ...
Read full report at Rolling Stone