By MARC McDONALD
The New York Times Magazine's recent ridiculous puff piece on Rush Limbaugh continues a trend in which the mainstream media has shied away from any serious scrutiny of the nation's top-rated talk radio host.
It's a courtesy that Limbaugh has never reciprocated. After all, Limbaugh spends day after day on his radio program, demonizing The New York Times in the harshest language imaginable. After listening to Limbaugh's ramblings, you might well be under the impression that the Times is working closely with Al-Qaeda.
But the Times is hardly alone in treating Limbaugh with kid gloves. For such a major celebrity, Limbaugh has never faced any sort of real scrutiny from the mainstream media in his two decades as a national radio star.
It wasn't the MSM, for example, that broke the 2003 story of how Limbaugh was being investigated in connection with illegally obtaining OxyContin. It was the tabloid media (specifically, the National Enquirer).
Amazingly, in 20 years, there has really only been one in-depth look at Limbaugh (and it didn't come from the MSM). It came from author Al Franken's 1996 book, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.
Franken's best-selling book exposed Limbaugh for the fraud he is. For the first time ever, the book brought to light Limbaugh's astonishing hypocrisy (such as the fact that he once collected government jobless benefits and the fact he never voted for GOP hero Ronald Reagan) as well as his crude, vicious hate speech (such as calling then 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton a "dog").
Big Fat Idiot also revealed how Limbaugh's program peddles outright lies and misinformation on a daily basis. Until Franken's book appeared, little of this information had ever been revealed to a broad audience, thanks to the MSM's silence.
Frankly, if the MSM had been doing its job, there would never have been a need for Franken's book in the first place. Readers appreciated Franken's job in exposing Limbaugh (sending Big Fat Idiot soaring to the top of the best-seller lists).
The MSM has always given Limbaugh a pass. To this day, he serves up a daily helping of outright lies, GOP propaganda and misinformation to his Ditto-Head audience of 14 million.
And Limbaugh isn't the only Right-Wing Hate Spewer treated with kid gloves by the MSM.
Recall how in 2005, Time magazine did a puff piece on Ann Coulter. The article's author, John Cloud, stunned many readers with his cover-story valentine to Coulter, as well as his contention that he "didn't find many outright Coulter errors" in her unhinged, rambling books. (In reality, watchdog sites like Media Matters have documented loads of outrageous lies in Coulter's shoddily researched writings).
And radio host Glenn Beck is yet another nutcase fringe right-wing extremist who gets a free pass from the MSM. In fact, in Beck's case, the MSM rewarded this hate-spewer with his own daily hour-long program on CNN's "Headline News." This, for a right-wing talk show host who once called Cindy Sheehan a "slut."