James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for July 6th, 2008

Limbaugh’s life and legacy

Posted by James McPherson on July 6, 2008

Rush Limbaugh’s insecure life,  post-drug-addiction (we assume): deafness, a French-inspired house, a cat, and a full-sized portrait of himself. At least “Rush is a lot smarter and crafter than Don Imus.” Or so says Al Sharpton, noted for his ability to grab almost as much time on stage during the last Democratic Convention as the candidate. Despite their millions, is there anyone much sadder than these two blowhards–other than the millions who apparently believe every word one or the other of them has to say?

Admittedly, Rush gets it right on occasion, such as when he says about Bill O’Reilly, “The man is Ted Baxter.” But remember, the fictional Baxter was the only survivor of the final WJM-TV shakeup. Rush and his copiers have helped guarantee a media world in which success means drawing the biggest audience, not offering the most insight or the widest range of news. A Baxter, an O’Reilly or a Limbaugh beats a Murrow or a Cronkite every time.

I don’t doubt that Rush, along with the likes of Charles Coughlin and Howard Stern (with whom Limbaugh shares a birthday), will claim a more significant place in history than O’Reilly. But thanks in part to the media environment he has helped create, your grandchildren likely won’t know or care.

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