Rush Limbaugh died earlier this week. Dan Froomkin castigates the media’s downplaying of Limbaugh’s toxic legacy after his death, by portraying his vilest racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic attacks on his political enemies as humor.
Our newsroom leaders still cannot bring themselves to declare that the hysteria and conspiracy theories that once only inhabited the lunatic fringes of our political discourse — until Rush Limbaugh, and then Donald Trump, came along — don’t merit respect, but should be banished, rejected and denied.
And that is why, even with a year to pre-write and edit them, major media outlets on Wednesday published obituaries celebrating Limbaugh’s extraordinary success as a “conservative provocateur.” They whitewashed his once-unimaginably vile and divisive demagoguery as “comic bombast.” They hailed him as “the voice of American conservatism,” when what really matters about Rush Limbaugh is that he spread hatred more effectively and lucratively than any American before him. He didn’t hide his bigotry and, eventually, neither did the Republican Party.
“What he did was to bring a paranoia and really mean, nasty rhetoric and hyperpartisanship into the mainstream,” said Martin Kaplan, a University of Southern California professor who is an expert on the intersection of politics and entertainment and a frequent critic of Limbaugh. “The kind of antagonism and vituperativeness that characterized him instantly became acceptable everywhere.”
Froomkin lists all the atrocities of Limbaugh that some of the obits felt obliged to include but only way at the bottom. Back in 2006, Limbaugh even mocked and mimicked Michael J. Fox’s tremors that were caused by him having Parkinson’s disease.
Is it any wonder that Limbaugh and Trump were best buddies and that Trump similarly mocked and mimicked a reporter Serge Kovaleski who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that affects joint movement.
All that needs to be said is that Limbaugh is dead and Fox is alive.
It is once again time to play the Eulogy Song that deplores this practice of putting a veil over the sins of the worst people.