Don’t Hush Rush

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Howard Stern … Don Imus … Opie and Anthony … Lisa Lampanelli … Chris Rock … George Lopez … Kathy Griffin … Bill Maher … Roseanne Barr … Sarah Silverman … and George Carlin, of sainted memory. 


We’ve always had terrible examples to defend.  And Rush Limbaugh has given us another stellar specimen of vulgar discourse.  But defend it we must. 

Not the hateful, demeaning and discomfiting words.  But the right of our colleague – the social commentator – to be heard.  And the right of the people to decide.

Rush misfired.  But he should not be fired or denied his podium.  

Here’s a baseball analogy.  Suppose you had a pitcher with remarkable stamina who, during the course of a long career threw some 8,000 innings.  Many of his pitches will miss the strike zone.  A few may even hit the poor batter.  And during those 8,000 innings spanning some 20 or 30 seasons, he may even bean the damn umpire!  But he’s still a great pitcher. 

Rush Limbaugh forgot that the young woman from Georgetown – no shrinking violet she, who bemoaned the fact, for all the world to hear, that contraception costs some $1,300.00 annually – was someone’s daughter. 

Her candid and sincere congressional testimony thus provoked Limbaugh’s unfortunate, regrettable and completely inappropriate attack which was all too personal and mean-spirited. 

Rush Limbaugh is a performer, an entertainer, a provocateur, a social commentator, and, in his worst moments, a carnival barker for the hard right.  But the sanctimonious holier-than-thou campaign to destroy and silence him has an agenda that transcends the hurt feelings of one individual.

Phil Reisman, the brilliant and astute Gannett feature columnist, says it’s entirely appropriate to remind Rush that chivalry, respectful discourse and gentlemanly behavior still matter.  And I would sign up for that.

To be sure, in this whole dreary matter we’re confronted by a civility issue which is valid, necessary and altogether appropriate.  But the mission of the liberal sharks like Ed Shultz and other windbags who smell blood in the water, is not to address the wrong, but to drive Limbaugh off the air.

In other words, when you separate the civility, or lack thereof, from the politics, it’s all too clear that Limbaugh’s enemies are using this contretemps as a weapon to knock him off his platform – permanently. 

It drives them – and us – crazy that Limbaugh represents a significant chunk of the Republican Party.  So, as Rockefeller Republicans, he’s not at all our cup of tea.  Over the years I’ve listened only very occasionally to his ranting and raving since the great Ed McLaughlin plucked Limbaugh from an obscure broadcasting station in Sacramento, California and gave him a national podium. 

Truth to tell, if my friends at the New York Post had not already dubbed Alec Baldwin “The Bloviator,” I would suggest that appellation might be more appropriately applied to Mr. Limbaugh. 

Like I said, Rush misfired.  And like that pitcher, he may have hit the poor umpire this time or some poor bastard behind home plate.  (Actually, he hit someone’s daughter!)  But he should not be fired … even if the whole cannon of his work is filled with raucous vulgarity and incendiary right-wing rhetoric directed at immigrants, illegal aliens and even presidents of the United States.  

We broadcasters are ever alert to incursions against free speech from government bureaucrats.  But censorship from corporate timidity in the face of economic boycotts is just as dangerous as the stifling of creative and artistic expression by government fiat, decree, sanction or regulation. 

You don’t have to be a First Amendment voluptuary to realize this is just as treacherous as any racism, sexism, bigotry or vulgarity. 

Let the S.O.B. be heard.   And trust only the people to censure him with a flick of the wrist and a changing of the dial. 

I’m uncomfortable as hell about it.  But I’m with Limbaugh.

He makes his living with words.

— By William O’Shaughnessy, President & Editorial Director, WVOX, WVIP (Whitney Media) Westchester, NY


12 COMMENTS

  1. No, Mr. O,

    Rush didn’t “misfire.” He aimed. And he hit his target.

    For years, Rush has “made his living” out of attacking anyone with whom he disagreed, and he has become a the vocal embodiment of the vitriol of the right.

    So to say he “misfired” is disingenuine; it implies that Rush meant well but misspoke. What did he mean in lieu of the words he spoke?

    Also disingenuine is the listing of names at the beginning of your op/ed… Chris Rock et. al. are comedians; people pay them to hear them say funny (and sometimes outrageous) things. Rush is a political commentator. Both have a mic, but are very different environments. What’s appropriate in one place is not in another; if you disagree, try using Rush’s language (or Chris Rock’s in an elementary school.)

    I will also say that Rush has every legal right to say what he says. However, he is responsible for that speech, as are the people who support him. By giving him a platform, you are not only endorsing that speech, but you are enabling it.

    For someone who makes his living with words, he really just committed career suicide (c.f. Jimmy the Greek).

  2. Well, the baseball analogy is not really well tied here…baseball players make their living playing each other…on a “level field” (unless you are the Yankees) and yes occas. someone gets a “beanball” or bad slide into the plate
    angering to the point of a fight. But here, Rush’s bigmouth ego went FAR over the line and attacked a young women who was making a civilized point of discourse by calling her the horrible names and asking her to “post video” to his 600 stations and millions of listeners…hardly defendable.
    Imus lost most of his stations/audience…Dr. Laura banished to a tiny corner of the spectrum. Glen Beck the same…the advertisers will likely determine a large chunk of the outcome.
    (oh and all the national radio execs are in a mad scramble to reset all their schedules to avoid even the station Rush is on let alone the daypart…a disaster)

  3. Absolutely correct (notice I resisted the temptation to say “right”?). The government should have no role in censorship – of any kind, thank you – and the people (listeners) should make their choices and let the (buffalo)chips fall where they may. There is nothing wrong with organizations, and other radio personalities mounting campaigns against what THEY perceive as egregious behavior. After all, they are people too! And when the sanctimonious offenders continue their noticeably-bad behavior, they will eventually be silenced by the ratings…

  4. Freedom of Speech is not the same as Freedom of Ad Supported Speech. Bill Maher was kicked off of ad supported television and has found a home on paid TV. George Carlin (when he was alive) did not make his income with ad supported free speech, but through paid concert venues, paid recordings and HBO type appearances. Let us not confuse them. Advertisers have the right to spend their dollars where they feel they will get the best return on their investment. And Rush has the right to say what he feels. Let’s not confuse things.

  5. Glad you used the “baseball analogy.” It allows a comparison using CC’s recent firing of WDAE’s Dan Sileo who “misfired” too, but with a basketball comment. (Mentioned once, not over a three day tirade.)

    Which should it be? You can’t fire one without getting rid of the other.

  6. Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

    While Limbaugh is quite constitutionally free to speak whatever evil he wishes (and his evil is well documented), a public outcry against his vicious, filthy minded outburst that results in his dismissal or cancellation would not be censorship in any way, shape or form. It is would simply be a consequence of bad behavior by a man of low character.

    The issue at hand is not a First Amendment issue, it is a character issue. The public is quite rightly outraged at Limbaugh, and so should his employers and advertisers be. The excuse that he is an ‘entertainer’ is not an excuse for doing evil. Not for Limbaugh, not for anyone.

  7. Limbaugh is still on the air. His sponsors are returning and new ones are coming aboard. The matter is settling down. The liberals lose.
    Rush will still command top ratings and revenues. His stations will prosper. Miss Fluke will still sleep around on her own dime and the world goes on. What a great country!

  8. “The public” is not outraged at Limbaugh — a few hundred thousand liberals who never listened to him anyway are again trying to silence him because he gleefully mocks their sacred cows and reveals their hypocrisy.

    This is nothing they haven’t tried and failed at before, and it has zero to do with Sandra Fluke. They simply smell blood in the water and see this as their best opportunity in years to unseat the conservative talk radio king, so suddenly they’re feigning outrage over a couple of words that they wouldn’t blink at if they heard them coming from the mouth of an MSNBC host.

    Ms. Fluke is hardly the girl next door — she’s a longtime liberal campus activist who was hand-picked to be the left’s next Anita Hill. And by “testifying” before Nancy Pelosi and appearing on a parade of national news programs, not to mention The View, she has made herself a limited public figure and can no longer hide behind the cloak of private citizen. Thus, Limbaugh has as much right to criticize her on the air as she does to criticize him.

    Don’t agree with me? Doesn’t matter. As talk show host Jim Rome likes to say: “SCOREBOARD.”

    And the score is this: Limbaugh is still on the air, addressing his 15 million listeners … the Sandra Fluke issue is as stale as last week’s donuts … and the left has again failed laughably in its attempt to take down Gulliver with its pea shooters.

  9. Mike Huckabee is a fine man and I’m sure his radio show will have it’s following, but for radio execs to think that Huckabee’s approach could ever match Limbaugh’s power, influence and uniqueness is insanity.
    The left is hoping for a Limbaugh to Huckabee exodus.
    Be serious. Are viewers..and advertisers…. clamoring for Mike’s weekend Fox TV show?

  10. Well said MR O!!!

    Here’s my take on another post:

    Really???

    Rush has over 20 MILLION FREE over the air listeners! Why would anyone kook want to silence a cume audience as large as this.

    Oh, yeah, the anti-FREE SPEECH Demo, er Commi-crats. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Republican! I am an artist who creates commercials for successful business who use shows like Rush to sell products. These clients’ spots are A-political (that means no politics).

    As an advertiser, clients want their products and services to reach large audiences.

    Would FOX-TV send “American Idol” to HBO just so their judges and contestants can rant more F-bombs or wear see through clothing? Hell NO!

    Broadcasters and advertisers need to stay strong to protect FREE speech within context of topic on hand.

    Until NBC news, HBO and Comedy Central comedians are policed for saying “entertaining” jokes, double entredres, innuendos etc, then there is NO argument against Rush.

    Why? Because just like Howard Stern, Bill Mahr, Jay Leno and a long list of others, Rush is an “ENTERTAINER” not a politician, teacher or preacher for that matter.

    If we, the people, allow more censorship on FREE broadcast Radio and TV, then we’ll have a Soviet-style 1984-Utopia version of CRAP for entertainment.

    Shut off the boycotts and get a life already.

Comments are closed.