Should Rush Limbaugh end his career

Rush Limbaugh died at the age of 70: what an extremely right-wing radio man leaves behind

It all started with a radio talk show in California, in Sacramento. Rush Limbaugh, previously a moderately successful DJ, began commenting on current affairs. Bold and polemical, sometimes like at the regulars' table, sometimes with puns, sometimes with verbal broadsides. Four years later, in 1988, he got a contract in New York. From then on, things took off until he was at the height of his career with 650 stations across the country Rush Limbaugh Show and reached almost 20 million listeners per week.

In Palm Beach, where he died of lung cancer Wednesday, he lived in an oceanfront mansion while making $ 85 million a year in his prime.

A success story like from an advertising brochure for the American Dream, the rise solely on its own. Above all, however, it is a story about the political division that the right-wing conservative ideologue helped to deepen.

Political infotainment

Every weekday, for three hours, Limbaugh gave his monologues. With these three hours, writes the Nebraska-born writer Kurt Andersen, "political infotainment" landed in the wrestling arena, based on the principle that everything is now allowed.

Right-wing media stars like Limbaugh, the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson teach in their book Let Them Eat Tweets, would have driven Republicans towards a tribal mindset.

In a wagon castle that hardly allows compromises with the Democrats, with members of the hostile tribe. In a bubble in which you only take in information that fits into your own view of the world.

Trump: "Brilliant, absolutely brilliant"

This development would not have been possible if the Federal Communications Commission, the federal agency responsible for issuing radio and television licenses, had not changed its rules in 1987. Until then, in the interests of objective reporting, the broadcasters were obliged to examine the pros and cons of controversial issues. After the so-called fairness doctrine had been cashed in under pressure from President Ronald Reagan, the time came for partisan moderators who no longer had to represent opposing views.

Limbaugh was the pioneer, followed by many imitators, Don Imus, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt, Bill O'Reilly. It was his success on the radio, says Sean Hannity, currently the most influential of this group, that made Fox News possible, the news channel founded by Rupert Murdoch in 1996, on which the American conservatives soon saw something like their house broadcaster. So it was only logical that Hannity devoted his evening 60-minute television program exclusively to Limbaugh after the news of his death made the rounds on Wednesday.

Donald Trump called in from Florida to praise the deceased as "brilliant, absolutely brilliant".

In fact, the radio man paved the way for Trump by cultivating the marginalized and the harsh at the same time. It was Limbaugh who condemned political correctness and treated it with a language that was uninhibited.

He called women who fought for women's rights "Feminazis". Environmentalists became crazy about him, hugging trees. He cursed a student who campaigned for health insurances to pay for contraception as a prostitute before asking her to post videos of herself showing her having sex thanks to the pill. After all, as a taxpayer, he is asked to pay for it.

African-Americans, Latinos, and feminists, he said, expected government handouts to be paid for by hard-working white men. Like Trump later, Limbaugh railed against the allegedly unfair "mainstream media", which must be countered with one's own point of view - and with it the truth.

After all, it was Limbaugh who, shortly after Barack Obama's inauguration, declared that the man had not yet proven that he was an American citizen.

As if the radio talker had been his cue, Trump repeated the attempt to brand the first dark-skinned US president as a foreign body. Obama was perhaps not born on American soil at all, so that he is wrongly sitting in the Oval Office, he repeated the motive. In retrospect, the campaign in spring 2011 is considered a test run for the application for the White House.

Parallels to Trump

Limbaugh had something else in common with the billionaire, who likes himself in the role of the labor leader and tries to make the common people feel that he is fighting against the establishment for their interests. He too came from a well-off background. His parents belonged to the elite themselves, to the political elite of the state of Missouri - the father a lawyer with excellent contacts, his mother well connected in the Republican Party. (Frank Herrmann from Washington, February 18, 2021)