Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (born January 12, 1951) is an American radio talk show host, sideshow performer, and bestselling author. Recognized as the national voice of the Republican Party, Rush first honed his skills during his service as a bingo caller on a closed-circuit nursing home radio station, before scoring a national success with his syndicated program. His show attracts 20 million listeners a day on average, most of which are male conservative geriatrics.
Limbaugh's gig has been described by publications as "highbrow conservatism" and a "megaphone of reason in a crowd of insanity." He is a four-time winner of the "Most Lively Radio Personality" award by the National Association of Broadcasters, and has been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame as well as the NAB Hall of Fame. Limbaugh has been labeled as "the savior of AM radio" by broadcast industry leaders, and is sometimes referred to as the "Doctor of Patriotism."
Since Limbaugh's radio show has been associated nationally with the Republican Party for over 30 years, it is difficult to identify a single conservative achievement attributable to him, but there certainly are many under his belt. Limbaugh has branched out into other forms of media, including television programs, a monthly newsletter, op-ed pieces for the Wall Street Journal, and even a Rappin' Rush hip-hop album.
Limbaugh was born in 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. At age 16, he chose to explore his passion for broadcasting by working as a disc jockey, hosting a radio show in his hometown. After four years, he left for Pittsburgh to work for the former ABC owned and operated KQV. Following his work as a disc jockey, Rush briefly left broadcasting for business, joining the Kansas City Royals as Director of Group Sales, and then Director of Sales and Special Events.
In 1983, he re-entered radio as a political commentator for KMBZ in Kansas City. A year later, in 1984, Rush dropped out of college after his freshman year to pursue work full-time as a disk jockey, when KFBK in Sacramento, California hired him to host a talk show that reveled in controversy about conservative politics. Limbaugh tripled the program's ratings in four years. From there, in 1988 he went on to New York where the record-breaking national show, the EIB Network, was born.
In 1988, Rush launched his phenomenally successful radio broadcast into national syndication, with 56 radio stations. Nearly 30 years later, the show is heard on nearly 600 stations by up to 20 million people each week and is the highest-rated national radio talk show in America.
Limbaugh has been married and divorced three times, and is currently married for the fourth time.
Limbaugh hosts a radio show famed for its incisive criticism of the follies of liberalism. He is often the target of liberals' ad hominem attacks, such as Senator Al Franken, who went so far as to write an entire book entitled Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. Limbaugh generically refers to feminists who advocate abortion as feminazis, and to his own self as having "talent on loan from God". Sensitive about his own schooling, he ridicules the college-educated as the "Arts & Croissant Crowd."
Limbaugh's conservative talk show is nationally syndicated and averages over 16-20 million listeners weekly, making him the #1 radio talk show host in America for over three decades. In July 2008, Rush announced that he had renewed his contract with Premiere Radio Networks and Clear Channel Radio, continuing syndication of his show many years into the distant future.
Limbaugh's fans enjoy his bluster and bombast, but behind it there is a substantive defense of a coherent political philosophy. He makes politics engaging and entertaining, producing an audience more eager to seek out other sources of information. Limbaugh "dittoheads" consume more print news than do non-listeners. Like Fox News viewers, Limbaugh fans are more likely to tune in to presidential debates. Far from making people cynical or indifferent toward public affairs, Limbaugh reinforces his audience's disposition to participate in the political process.
Conservative Republicans are in his audience, but educational attainment, family income, and race do not predict who listens. Listening to Limbaugh is significantly correlated with public affairs information. He is not merely an entertainer, and people who listen to him regularly are very well-informed on public affairs. However, his radio audience is smaller than the TV audiences of conservative commentators Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
In 2009, on an episode of MSNBC's Hardball, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas commented that Obama was "sort of God."
Asking rhetorically what God has in common with Obama, Limbaugh said, "Neither has a birth certificate." He went on to say "God does not think he's Obama," and "Liberals love Obama." Limbaugh explained more differences: "Another difference is that God only demands to be worshiped once a week," "God asks for only 10 percent of your money," and "God gives you freedom to live your life as you choose."
Obama to Fail
Limbaugh made national headlines when he was asked to write 400 words for a newspaper column about Obama's plans. He said he didn't need 400 words, he needed just four: "I hope he fails." He was immediately attacked by the Obama White House and liberal pundits as an unpatriotic obstructionist. Limbaugh expounded his view in the show's transcript; if Obama is for socialist policies and against capitalist policies, of course Limbaugh could not support those policies, and hoped he would fail.
Limbaugh addressed CPAC and further discussed his stance that generated so much attention:
|“||Did the Democrats want the war in Iraq to fail? Well, they certainly did. And they not only wanted the war in Iraq to fail, they proclaimed it a failure. [...] The last thing they wanted was to win. They hoped George Bush failed. So where is it — what is so strange about being honest and saying, "I want Barack Obama to fail" if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?||”|
Former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele called Limbaugh an "entertainer" whose comments were "incendiary" and "ugly," and Limbaugh counterattacked Steele's fitness to run the party. A Gallup poll in May 2009 on who was the main voice of the GOP found Limbaugh leading the pack at 13%, with Steele trailing at 1%.
Limbaugh has warned against false prophets, telling his audience in 1996 that, "You are being manipulated in a way that I find very bothersome. Pat Buchanan is not a conservative. He's a populist."
Harry Reid letter
In 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote a letter to Mark P. Mays, Limbaugh's chief patron, demanding that Limbaugh apologize for the remarks he made concerning "phony soldiers" — people who are not soldiers at all but pretend to be one, especially on a public forum. In their astounding stupidity, this letter was co-signed by nearly all Democratic senators.
However, Limbaugh ultimately got the last laugh, as the faker whose activity prompted Limbaugh's insults was soon convicted and punished. In a speech in Philadelphia on October 11, Limbaugh announced plans to sell the original letter on eBay in a charity auction. The proceeds went to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. The letter sold for $2.1 million and Limbaugh matched the winning amount with a total of $4.2 million being donated.
In 2003, Limbaugh confessed to his audience that he was addicted to painkillers, citing a failed back surgery as the cause of his pain and subsequent dependence. Limbaugh underwent treatment for his addiction, and charges against him for alleged "doctor shopping" to procure prescription medications were dropped after Democratic prosecutors illegally seized private medical records in a blatant misuse of the criminal justice system to discredit the poor guy.
In March 2012, Sandra Fluke, a 30-year-old former Georgetown law student, gave testimony in support of an Obama directive to have private healthcare cover contraception. Fluke chose Georgetown's law school despite knowing that its healthcare plan does not cover contraception, but she then complained that contraception was expensive and that Georgetown's student health insurance should cover the cost. Limbaugh responded to her comments on his show where he said that her insurance paying for her to have sex made her a "slut" and a "prostitute." He later went on to say that he would agree to the payment if she would film herself having sex and put the video online.
After several days of backlash, which included condemnations from both parties and advertisers backing out, Limbaugh apologized, saying he "did not mean a personal attack" on Fluke and had used poor word choice but reiterated his opposition to her comments.
Limbaugh is an avid fan of sports, particularly football. He briefly held a position as a commentator on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown pre-game show. He resigned from the show in 2006, after comments made regarding Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb received widespread race-baiting from the liberal media:
|“||I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team.||”|
After McNabb's response, "It's sad that you've got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal," significant pressure was put upon Limbaugh to resign.
- The Way Things Ought to Be (1992)
- See, I Told You So (1993)
- Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims (2013)
- Rush Revere and the First Patriots (2014)
- Rush Revere and the American Revolution (2014)
Like Mark Levin and others, Limbaugh holds a colorful lexicon for those who he dislikes, although Rush's lexicon is less expansive than Levin's:
- Mainstream Media = "Drive-by Media"
- CNN = "Communist News Network" (was originally called the "Clinton News Network" during the Clinton administration)
- Barack Obama = "Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Mmm Mmm Mmm" (this is in reference to a propagandist school song about Obama)
- Joe Biden = "Joe Bite-Me"
- Harry Reid = "Dingy Harry"
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz = "Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz"
- John Edwards = "Breck Girl"
- Nancy Pelosi = "Bela Pelosi"
- Barbra Walters = "Baba Wawa"
- Chuck Todd = "F Chuck Todd"
- Ben Affleck = "Ben Affliction"
- Paul Begala = "The Forehead"
- Chuck Schumer = "Chuck You Schumer"