Friday, 19 February 2021

A Rush to Judgment?

Letter sent to The Guardian newspaper: My first encounter with legendary extremist conservative radio show host, Rush Limbaugh (“Rightwing US talk radio host Rush Limbaugh dies, aged 70,” Guardian, 18 February 2021; https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/17/rush-limbaugh-conservative-talk-radio-host-dies-70) came while driving during a holiday in Massachusetts in 2003. His syndicated radio show seemed to be on every point on the On one of the radio affiliates that carried his show, the station management decided to balance out his right wing bile by following Limbaugh’s show with a liberal talk-show host. One day a story had broken which was manna from heaven: Limbaugh announced on his own radio show that he was addicted to pain medication and he was checking himself into a treatment centre immediately. Police sources revealed that Limbaugh's name had come up during an investigation into a black market drug ring in Palm Beach County, Florida, that law enforcement authorities were looking into the illegal purchase of the prescription drugs OxyContin and hydrocodone. (https://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/10/10/rush.limbaugh/) The liberal host, with glee, exposed Limbaugh’s obvious hypocrisy, by playing on a loop throughout his three-hour show this statement made by Limbaugh eight years earlier, on October 5, 1995, calling for illegal drug uses to be jailed. “There’s nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” (https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/case-study/limbaugh-drug-addiction) Limbaugh also admitted he had tried to break his dependence in the past and had checked himself into medical facilities twice before. Three years later he was arrested again on prescription drug charges (New York Times, 28 April 2006; www.nytimes.com/2006/04/28/us/rush-limbaugh-arrested-on-prescription-drug-charges.html) A fine role model indeed for conservative ethics! Talk Radio Legend Rush Limbaugh Dies at 70 41,931 Mario Tama/Getty Images JOSHUA CAPLAN Breitbart, 17 Feb 2021 2:17 Conservative radio legend Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday morning at the age of 70 following a battle with advanced lung cancer, his wife Kathryn Limbaugh announced at the beginning of his Wednesday radio program. “It is with profound sadness I must share with you directly that our beloved Rush, my wonderful husband, passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer,” Kathryn announced. “Rush will forever be the greatest of all time, she added. Limbaugh, host of The Rush Limbaugh Show for 32 years, had been battling Stage 4 lung cancer since January 2020. Just days after announcing his diagnosis, Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump during the State of the Union on February 4, 2020 “Rush Limbaugh: Thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” Trump told the radio host during the address. Limbaugh periodically updated his audience on his health condition, telling listeners during his final radio broadcast of 2020 that he outlived his prognosis and thanked them for their outpour of support. “I wasn’t expected to be alive today,” Limbaugh said. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October, and then to November, and then to December. And yet, here I am, and today, got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today.” Praise for Limbaugh from conservative lawmakers and media figures poured in moments after Limbaugh’s passing. Rush Limbaugh revolutionized American radio. His voice guided the conservative movement for millions every day. Rest In Peace, Rush. — Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 17, 2021 Rush Limbaugh was an American icon who brought conservatism into the mainstream—and our country is a better place because of his profound voice. He leaves behind an incredible legacy. Please join me in praying for his family. — Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) February 17, 2021 Rush Limbaugh was a giant. With his straightforward, simple articulation of conservatism, he inspired millions. He was one-of-a-kind and he will be missed. — Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 17, 2021 R.I.P Rush. A true American legend. — Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 17, 2021 Broadcast Legend Rush Limbaugh has died. His legions of fans will miss him, and his powerful and bright contribution to our national dialogue is a treasure that will endure for decades to come. Rush Limbaugh, a great American, dead at 70. God bless you Rush. — Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) February 17, 2021 Limbaugh was born on January 12, 1951, in Cape Giradeau, Missouri. As a high school student, he landed his first job in radio at local station KGMO. Limbaugh attended Southeast Missouri State University in 1971 and dropped out after one year to return to the radio business. Limbaugh was first syndicated in 1988. At its peak, The Rush Limbaugh Show reached over 15 million listeners. Limbaugh was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 along with the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998. He is also five-time winner of the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for Excellence in Syndicated and Network Broadcasting. Limbaugh admits addiction to pain medication Saturday, October 11, 2003 https://edition.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/10/10/rush.limbaugh/ (CNN) -- Rush Limbaugh announced on his radio program Friday that he is addicted to pain medication and that he is checking himself into a treatment center immediately. "You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life," the conservative commentator said in a statement on his nationally syndicated radio show. "I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication." Law enforcement sources said last week that Limbaugh's name had come up during an investigation into a black market drug ring in Palm Beach County, Florida. The sources said that authorities were looking into the illegal sale of the prescription drugs OxyContin and hydrocodone. Limbaugh, who has a residence in Palm Beach County, was named by sources as a possible buyer. He was not the focus of the investigation, according to the sources. The radio talk show host said he first became addicted to painkillers "some years ago," following spinal surgery. However, he added, "the surgery was unsuccessful and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck due to herniated discs. I am still experiencing that pain." He had tried to break his dependence in the past and has checked himself into medical facilities twice before, he said. Limbaugh said that he is "not making any excuses" and that he is "no role model." "I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes. They are the role models," he said. He would not provide details of his current problem, citing the ongoing investigation. "At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation, and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete." Sources said the investigation began nine months ago when Wilma Cline, a former housekeeper at Limbaugh's oceanfront Palm Beach mansion, approached authorities. "I will only say that the stories you have read and heard contain inaccuracies and distortions, which I will clear up when I am free to speak about them," he said. Limbaugh has not been charged with any crime. Earlier this month, Limbaugh resigned from his position as football commentator on ESPN after making remarks that critics considered racist. Limbaugh said he left the show "Sunday NFL Countdown" to protect the network from the uproar caused by his statement that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. He did not apologize for the comments and does not consider them to be racist remarks, merely an observation of the media's reaction to McNabb's success. The revelation about Limbaugh's possible addiction to OxyContin appeared the same week he resigned from ESPN. In the statement read by Limbaugh Friday, he did not name the pain medication he said he's addicted to. Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist in Pasadena, California, told CNN that if Limbaugh is addicted to OxyContin, "We're really talking about opiate addiction. The withdrawal is miserable and painful and it takes a long time to recover." The disease is insidious, Pinksy said. "It's a progressive disease, and when it progresses, the house of cards falls." Still, he said, "I've seen miracle recoveries." Limbaugh is one of the most recognized talk show hosts in the nation and also one of the most controversial. In 2001, he signed a nine-year contract with Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates his show to nearly 600 stations, for a total salary package reported to exceed $200 million. It is estimated that nearly 20 million people listen to Limbaugh's show daily. Also in 2001, Limbaugh learned he had a hearing problem. He was diagnosed in May and told his listeners in October that he was almost entirely deaf as a result of an autoimmune inner-ear disease. He said he had lost 100 percent hearing in his left ear and 80 percent in his right ear. He successfully had a cochlear implant placed in his left ear to restore his hearing. He announced in January 2002 that he could hear his own radio show "for the first time in nearly four months via a medical marvel." Until then, he relied solely on a TelePrompTer and his staff's assistance to understand his callers. Story Tools ________________________________________ VIDEO Rush Limbaugh admits his addiction to painkillers • Limbaugh resigns over McNabb comments • Statement of Rush Limbaugh PRESCRIPTION ADDICTION •Approximately 4 million Americans said they were currently using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in a 1999 report. •Commonly prescribed pain medications that can become addictive include: codeine, oxycodone, and sleep disorder drugs. •Prescription drugs are the most common form of drug abuse among older people. •Fastest growing group of new prescription drug abusers are 12- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 25-year-olds. Source: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse Limbaugh on Drug Addiction https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/case-study/limbaugh-drug-addiction Debates on the distribution, sale, and use of illegal drugs have been prominent in United States politics for the past several decades. Political commentator and talk show host Rush Limbaugh has become well known for his outspoken opinions on a number of political and social issues, including drug abuse. During his talk show on October 5, 1995, Limbaugh stated: “There’s nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.” Limbaugh argued that drug abuse was a choice, not a disease, and that it should be combatted with strict legal consequences. In October 2003, news outlets reported that Limbaugh was under investigation for illegally obtaining prescription drugs. Limbaugh illegally purchased hundreds of prescription pills per month over a period of several years. He engaged in the practice of “doctor shopping” by visiting different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs that would otherwise be illegal. When this was disclosed, Limbaugh checked into a treatment facility. He said, “Over the past several years I have tried to break my dependence on pain pills and, in fact, twice checked myself into medical facilities in an attempt to do so…. I have recently agreed with my physician about the next steps.” Rush Limbaugh Arrested on Prescription Drug Charges New York Times, April 28, 2006 https://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/28/us/rush-limbaugh-arrested-on-prescription-drug-charges.html WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., April 29 (AP) — Rush Limbaugh was arrested today on prescription drug charges, with his lawyer saying he has reached a deal with prosecutors that will eventually see the charges dismissed if he continues treatment for drug addiction. Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio’s Conservative Provocateur, Dies at 70 A longtime favorite of the right, he was a furious critic of Barack Obama and a full-throated cheerleader for Donald J. Trump • New York Times, Feb. 17, 2021, 12:35 p.m. ET https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/17/business/media/rush-limbaugh-dead.html Rush Limbaugh in 1994. For more than three decades he led attacks on liberals, Democrats, feminists, environmentalists and many others. Credit...Eddie Adam/Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin By Robert D. McFadden Rush Limbaugh, the relentlessly provocative voice of conservative America who dominated talk radio for more than three decades with shooting-gallery attacks on liberals, Democrats, feminists, environmentalists and other moving targets, died on Wednesday. He was 70. His wife, Kathryn, said the cause was lung cancer. Mr. Limbaugh had announced on his show last February that he advanced lung cancer. A day later, President Donald J. Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during the State of the Union address. Mr. Limbaugh soon resumed his broadcasts, and his adoration for Mr. Trump. As the Covid-19 pandemic swept the nation, he likened the coronavirus to the common cold. And in October, as Election Day neared and Mr. Trump recuperated from the virus himself, he joined Mr. Limbaugh on the air for a two-hour “virtual rally,” largely devoted to his grievances. “We love you,” Mr. Limbaugh assured the president on behalf of his listeners. But 10 days later, Mr. Limbaugh told his audience that his cancer had grown worse and, despite treatments, was “going in the wrong direction.” A darling of the right since launching his nationally syndicated program during the presidency of his first hero, Ronald Reagan, Mr. Limbaugh was heard regularly by as many as 15 million Americans. That following, and his drumbeat criticisms of President Barack Obama for eight years, when the Republicans were often seen as rudderless, appeared to elevate him, at least for a time, to de facto leadership among conservative Republicans. Such talk became obsolete in 2016 with the meteoric rise of Donald J. Trump, who, after several flirtations with presidential races that were never taken very seriously, suddenly burst like a supernova on the national political landscape. Mr. Trump became president and Mr. Limbaugh, off the hook, became an ardent supporter. “This is great,” Mr. Limbaugh, sounding positively giddy, said of his new champion in the White House. “Can we agree that Donald Trump is probably enjoying this more than anybody wants to admit or that anybody knows?” Like dreams coming true, Mr. Limbaugh hailed the president’s efforts to curtail Muslim immigration, cut taxes, promote American jobs, repeal Obamacare, raise military spending and dismantle environmental protections. As for opposition to the Trump agenda and allegations of Russian interference in the American elections in 2016, Mr. Limbaugh had a ready explanation. “This attack is coming from the shadows of the deep state, where former Obama employees remain in the intelligence community,” he said. “They are lying about things, hoping to make it easier for them and the Obama shadow government to eventually get rid of Trump and everybody in his administration.” After House Democrats impeached the president for the first time, Mr. Limbaugh attacked with relish: “Why is Trump really being impeached?” he said. “He’s being impeached because he’s too successful,” adding: “Donald Trump is being impeached because he’s standing up for the Second Amendment. He’s being impeached because he’s lowering taxes. He’s being impeached because he’s resurrecting the economy.” Blisteringly sarcastic, often hilarious, always pugnacious, Mr. Limbaugh was a partisan force of nature, reviled by critics and admired by millions, a master of three-hour monologues that featured wicked impersonations, slashing mockery, musical parodies and a rogue’s gallery of fools, knaves, liars and bleeding hearts. In the Limbaugh lexicon, advocates for the homeless were “compassion fascists,” women who favored abortion were “feminazis,” environmentalists were “tree-hugging wackos.” He delivered “AIDS updates” with a Dionne Warwick song, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” ridiculed Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms, and called global warming a hoax. He was not above baldfaced lies. During the debate over Mr. Obama’s 2009 health care bill, he fed the rumor mills over its provisions to have Medicare and insurers pay for optional consultations with doctors on palliative and hospice care, saying they empowered “death panels” that would “euthanize” elderly Americans. Unlike Howard Stern, Don Imus and other big names in shock radio, Mr. Limbaugh had no on-the-air sidekicks, though he had conversations with the unheard voice of someone he called “Bo Snerdly.” Nor did he have writers, scripts or outlines, just notes and clippings from newspapers he perused daily. Alone with his multitudes in his studio, he joked, ranted, twitted and burst into song, mimicry or boo-hoos as “The Rush Limbaugh Show” beamed out over 650 stations of the Premier Radio Networks, a subsidiary of iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel Communications). In his alternate-universe-on-the-air, he was “El Rushbo” and “America’s Anchorman,” in the “Southern Command” bunker of an “Excellence in Broadcasting” network. To faithful “Dittoheads,” his defiantly self-mocking followers, he was an indomitable patriot, an icon of wit and wisdom — Mark Twain, Father Coughlin and the Founding Fathers rolled into one. His political clout, they said, lay in the reactions he provoked, avalanches of calls, emails and website rage, the headlines and occasional praise or wrath from the White House and Capitol Hill. To detractors he was a sanctimonious charlatan, the most dangerous man in America, a label he co-opted. And some critics insisted he had no real political power, only an intimidating, self-aggrandizing presence that swayed an aging, ultra-right fringe whose numbers, while impressive, were not considered great enough to affect the outcome of national elections. In any case, he was a commercial phenomenon, taking in $85 million a year. Married four times and divorced three times with no children, he lived on an oceanfront estate in a 24,000-square-foot mansion. It featured Oriental carpets, chandeliers and a two-story mahogany-paneled library with leather-bound collections. He had a half-dozen cars, one costing $450,000, and a $54 million Gulfstream G550 jet. Dropping $5,000 tips in restaurants, affecting the grandiloquence of a proud college dropout, he was himself easily caricatured: overweight all his life, sometimes topping 300 pounds, a cigar-smoker with an impish grin and sly eyes, the stringy hair slicked back from a mastodon forehead. He moved his bulk with surprising grace when showing how an environmentalist skips daintily in a woodland. But his voice was his brass ring — a jaunty, rapid staccato, breaking into squeaky dolphin-talk or falsetto sobbing to expose the do-gooders, dazzling America with his inventive, bruising vocabulary. Robert D. McFadden is a senior writer on the Obituaries desk and the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting. He joined The Times in May 1961 and is also the co-author of two books. • •

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