Rush Limbaugh, born to a prominent politically conservative Missouri family, is a radio talk show host and political commentator. He began his radio career as a disc jockey at a radio station partly owned by his father.
After dropping out of college, he continued in radio and was fired several times for making offensive political comments. His radio career revived in 1984 at a Sacramento station with a show featuring political commentary and listener calls.
In 1987 the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, a rule that required radio and television stations to provide equal time to both sides of political debates. Without needing to provide rebuttals, Limbaugh’s style became more profitable and he left Sacramento and began broadcasting nationally.
He now broadcasts The Rush Limbaugh Show, the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States, aired on about 600 stations. His callers are pre-screened and few who disagree with him are allowed air time. He seems to enjoy the attention gained from his offensive statements.
In the 1990s Limbaugh's books The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993) made The New York Times Best Seller list.
Limbaugh has been married four times. In late 2001, he acknowledged that he had gone almost completely deaf and had cochlear implants in order to hear.
Limbaugh was charged with doctor shopping to obtain OxyContin in 2006. An agreement was reached in which the charge was dropped and Limbaugh paid $30,000 to defray the investigation cost and complete an 18-month therapy regimen.
Before he was charged, Limbaugh condemned illegal drug use on his television program: “Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”
Limbaugh is a conservative who has criticized political centrists, independents, as well as moderate conservatives, claiming they are responsible for Democrat Barack Obama's and inviting them to leave the Republican party. He calls for the adoption of core conservative philosophies to guarantee the survival of the Republican party.
He often criticizes what he perceives as a persistent liberal bias in major U.S. media. “The media, folks, the best advice I can give you is to simply distrust everything you hear, read and see and come here for the truth. I have no interest in anything else.”
Limbaugh has made controversial statements about African-Americans, even drawing connections between African-American appearance and criminality: “Have you ever noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”
Limbaugh has argued against scientific opinion on climate change, saying the alleged scientific consensus “is just a bunch of scientists organized around a political proposition.”
Limbaugh is critical of feminism, saying that “[f]eminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” He also popularized the term “feminazi,” referring to about two dozen feminists "to whom the most important thing in life is ensuring that as many abortions as possible occur."
Earlier in his career he said, “I think this reason why girls don't do well on multiple choice tests goes all the way back to the Bible, all the way back to Genesis, Adam and Eve. God said ‘All right, Eve, multiple choice or multiple orgasms, what's it going to be?’ We all know what was chosen.”
Commenting on corporate layoffs, he said, “Why is it that whenever a corporation fires workers, it's never speculated that the workers might have deserved it?”
His show's theme song since Sacramento has been a loop from a song by The Pretenders, “My City Was Gone,” written by Chrissie Hynde to protest over-development. Limbaugh never asked permission to use the music, never paid royalties, and Hynde, living in England, heard only occasionally about the song's use.
She had no comment until 1997, when Limbaugh answered a reporter's question about the song by explaining that it was “icing on the cake that it was [written by] an environmentalist, animal rights wacko and was an anti-conservative song. It is anti-development, anti-capitalist, and here I am going to take a liberal song and make fun of [liberals] at the same time.” After reading that, Hynde had her representatives contact Limbaugh and demand payment. At Hynde's request, Limbaugh's royalty checks for using her song are now made payable to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“That's exactly the same thing you could say about Obama. He wouldn't have been voted president if he weren't black. Somebody asked me over the weekend why does somebody earn a lot of money, have a lot of money? I said because he's black. If Obama weren't black, he'd be a tour guide in Honolulu or he'd be teaching Saul Alinsky constitutional law or lecturing on it in Chicago.”
“We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax.”
(Following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti – Source)
“I am often illustrating absurdity by being absurd. I've said that we need to give smokers medals. We need to make 'em citizens with great honor, because they are the ones paying for children's health care programs. The taxes, the vast majority of taxes from the sale of tobacco products goes to fund children health care programs. All of this was done by the Democrat Party while demanding that fewer and fewer people smoke, making it harder and harder for people to smoke.”
(March 15, 2012 – Source)
“The media, folks, the best advice I can give you is to simply distrust everything you hear, read and see and come here for the truth. I have no interest in anything else.”
(March 14, 2012 – Source)
“Look, this Sandra Fluke stuff and the free contraceptives, if all of it is a little esoteric, and I hope it's not, I think we've made this abundantly clear what's going on, but the simplest way to understand this, it's just a new welfare program. And "welfare" is a bad word, and they can't use it, they can't sell it, so now it's disguised. Welfare disguised as women's health, or women's reproductive rights. But it's just another welfare program. That's all this is.”
(March 1, 2012 – Source)
“My mom always told me not to laugh at people dumber than me. Sometimes I can't help it.”
(October 5, 2011 – Source)
“A misogynist is a guy who hates women almost as much as women hate women, and I do not hate women. Why should gay people have to pay taxes to supply birth control for straight people, for the breeders? Where's the social justice in that?”
(March 2, 2012 – Source)
“As far as the media's concerned, Mrs. Obama deserves this. Look at the sordid past. Look at our slave past, look at the discriminatory past. It's only fair that people of color get their taste of the wealth of America too.”
(Claiming the media is allowing Michelle Obama to take a vacation as a form of reparations for "our slave past," Aug. 6, 2010 – Source)
“I think those of you that regularly exercise... you're the people getting injured. You're the people showing up at the hospital with busted knees and tendons and skin cancer, ankle sprains, knee and hip replacements, broken bones, concussions, muscle, ligament, tendon, cartilage strains and tears, tendinitis, rotator cuff tears. All you exercise freaks, you're the ones putting stress on the health care system.”
(June 11, 2009 – Source)
“Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.”
“That was one aspect of feminism that I liked, that women were going to pull themselves up by their bra straps.”
(March 2, 2012 – Source)
In [Limbaugh’s] telling, Gingrich's victory [in South Carolina] is rooted in the cultural insecurity and resentment of conservative Republicans. ... In the transcript below, Limbaugh is referring to the South Carolina debate, and the question about whether Gingrich asked his second wife for an open marriage (emphasis added):
“Why did those questions tee Newt up, and why did Newt know what to do with them? Very simple. I've been doing this show for 23 years, and one of my themes from the beginning, from 1988, has been that the American conservative middle class are the ones playing by the rules. They are the ones that obey the law to the best of their ability. ...They try to shield their kids from cultural rot and depravity. ... They follow as best they can all the rules and they're laughed at and made fun of and they are impugned everywhere they look. ... They've had it. They've been dealing with this for over 20 years, and nobody's fought back for 'em. Not one person ever has fought back for 'em.
“The last time somebody actually spoke up in this large a forum, a presidential forum, would have to be Reagan... Since then, the Republican leadership has not seemed focused so much on winning and they sit there and they take it. Whenever their own voters are insulted — when their own voters are laughed at and impugned and called racists, sexist, bigot homophobes — the Republicans don't defend them nor themselves because they're scared to death the independents are gonna be upset, or the media is gonna be upset.
“So the base of the Republican Party, the voters, have been bottling up for 25 years, a resentment — an anger, if you will — that their own party won't fight for them, won't fight for itself, won't fight for what's right. So when Newt gets teed up with these questions from Juan Williams and John King and whoever else and simply says what they've been thinking for 25 years, they say, ‘Finally!’ What they want right now is fight-back, what they want is push-back, what they want is kick-back, what they want is smack-down! What they want is for these people who have been laughing at them and mocking them and impugning them, put in their place.”
This is progress. Limbaugh may think this victim complex, and the desire for revenge and emotional catharsis it creates, is justified. He is nevertheless admitting that the behavior of the conservative base isn't grounded in principle or patriotism or a desire to advance conservative policy.
(Jan. 24, 2012, Conor Friedersdorf, “Rush Limbaugh: Resentment Fueled Gingrich's Rise,” the Atlantic – Source)
Who are the 15 million people who listen to this guy?
Data from the Pew Research Center offers some insight. A 2008 survey found that 80 percent of Limbaugh’s listeners identified themselves as “conservative,” compared to 35 percent of the total U.S. population. About three-quarters of his listeners are NRA supporters, compared to 40 percent of all Americans. The same proportion identify themselves as Tea Partiers and Christian Conservatives. Why do they listen to Limbaugh? In one survey, 37 percent said they tune in for opinion, but another 28 percent say they enjoy the blend of news, opinion, and entertainment. Among Republicans, 13 percent say they tune in to Limbaugh “regularly.” There’s one more interesting number to keep in mind, and after the events of this week, it will hardly come as a surprise: According to a 2009 survey, only 28 percent of Limbaugh’s audience is female—a smaller proportion than any other news source included in the questionnaire.
(March 2, 2012, Nathan Pippenger, “Who On Earth Listens To Rush Limbaugh, Anyway?”, The New Republic –Source)
Apparently sensing an opportunity to tarnish President Obama’s standing with listeners who were unaware of the suffering caused by the African rebels who call themselves the Lord’s Resistance Army, Rush Limbaugh responded to the president’s deployment of 100 military advisers to combat the group in central Africa on Friday in a segment of his radio show headlined, “Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians.”
Mr. Limbaugh began his discussion of the group — described by my colleagues Thom Shanker and Rick Gladstone as “a notorious renegade group that has terrorized villagers in at least four countries with marauding bands that kill, rape, maim and kidnap with impunity” — by explaining that the “Lord” referred to in their name is not someone named Lord, but “God.” He said:
“Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the combat Lord’s Resistance Army. And here we are at war with them. Have you ever heard of Lord’s Resistance Army, Dawn? How about you, Brian? Snerdley, have you? You never heard of Lord’s Resistance Army? Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them. Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. It means God.”
Overlooking the detailed record of their brutality and bizarre practices, Mr. Limbaugh then added:
“They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops, to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them. So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda.”
According to the transcipt on his Web site, near the end of Friday’s radio segment, Mr. Limbaugh said:
“Is that right? The Lord’s Resistance Army is being accused of really bad stuff? Child kidnapping, torture, murder, that kind of stuff? Well, we just found out about this today. We’re gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it. But nevertheless we got a hundred troops being sent over there to fight these guys — and they claim to be Christians.”
(Oct. 17, 2011, Robert Mackey, “Limbaugh Defends Lord’s Resistance Army,” New York Times – Source)