Rush Limbaugh contradicts himself on being a blowhard entertainer doing it for the money to win the Media Putz
Originally published on MediaPutz.com on March 5, 2009
P.T. Barnum never likely said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but did likely say, “I am a showman by profession… and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.”
The 21st century equivalent of P.T. Barnum is this week’s Media Putz, Rush Limbaugh.
Though he came from a family of esteemed lawyers and judges, Limbaugh drifted through, not even finishing college. He reportedly dropped out after two semesters and one summer, as Wikipedia puts it, “according to his mother, “he flunked everything”, even a modern ballroom dancing class.”
Limbaugh worked as a disc jockey, playing Top 40 and country music. He also worked as the director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals. Only through the destruction of the Fairness Doctrine (by Limbaugh’s hero, Ronald Reagan) did the career of Limbaugh as a talk-show host take off.
Limbaugh is an entertainer. He’s not a journalist, as he’s not concerned about objectivity or facts. He’s not a politician.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele had the “audacity” to call Limbaugh “an entertainer.” As part of his apology, after being blasted by Limbaugh, Steele went out of his way to say Limbaugh “is a national conservative leader, and in no way do I want to diminish his voice. I truly apologize.”
What’s funny about Limbaugh’s stance at being labeled “an entertainer” is that Limbaugh has said that he is an entertainer.
“I combine two elements: irreverent humor and serious discussion of issues,” says Limbaugh, who doesn’t know when he’ll stop. “People tune in for both. But the key is having credibility. This has led to critics saying I am just an entertainer. I’m proud to be an entertainer. This is showbiz. At the same time, I believe everything I say.”
Limbaugh said this in an interview with Mediaweek magazine in 2003. So we all agree: Limbaugh is an entertainer.
The IMDb listing for “The Entertainer,” the 1976 remake starring Jack Lemmon contains this key sentence describing the protagonist: “A vaudeville entertainer approaches middle age still not having attained success or stardom.” Substitute radio for vaudeville, and you have Limbaugh.
When Limbaugh’s show first was syndicated, he was 37 years old. He had failed expectations professionally, personally (already divorced, on his second marriage that ended in divorce, eventually three divorces in all), and a family that likely looked at him with scorn, given its rich majesty.
What was that Limbaugh said about his credibility? Oh yeah, Limbaugh says he believes everything he says. But again, look at the track record. He spent no time in any political spectrum — no think tanks, no working for political parties, no major consideration for anything remotely politics related until he started doing talk radio in Sacramento.
Limbaugh caught a lucky break in that the annihilation of the Fairness Doctrine changed the landscape of AM radio, so stations could broadcast editorial commentary without the “annoyance” of presenting opposing views. The beauty of the move — for Limbaugh — is that you didn’t have to be correct, just loud.
From struggling through life to making now well over $30 million a year, Limbaugh claims he believes everything he says. But given Limbaugh’s track record, more than any major Republican blowhard, he does look like he does this for the money.
Like Barnum, Limbaugh came along at the right time, and took full financial advantage of the situation. In fact, Limbaugh last summer signed a contract extension through 2016 worth over $400 million. And like Barnum, Limbaugh is just a showman. Right now, Limbaugh is taking advantage of the vacuum of leadership in the GOP, and he is having a little fun at his fellow Republicans’ expense. But in Limbaugh’s own words, “I’m proud to be an entertainer.” And hopefully, he’s proud once again to be the Media Putz of the week.