Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Why Is The MSM Afraid Of Scrutinizing Rush Limbaugh?

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."

22 comments:

cdupree said...

To me it's straightforward to answer the question, "Why do traditional media outlets treat Limbaugh, Beck, et.al., with kid gloves?"

Answer in two parts:

- There's the wimpy-liberal tendency to avoid offending anyone, no matter how scummy.

- There's the more important fact that underlying the liberal pretensions at, for example, the New York Times is a fair amount agreement at the ownership level with the project of American Empire. Raising the Eretz Israel concept tends to eliminate the last vestiges of non-fascist thought.

Leastways, that's how it looks to me.

Excellent post on an important subject.

Anonymous said...

The Media secretly admires Pill Boy--
Some would like to do a Whale Rider session with him.
We are heuristic thinkers who discount critical analysis, and thrive on story and myth.
Pill Boy fits into our evolutionary history.

Anonymous said...

Limbaugh and Coulter, and their ilk,
speak eloquently EXACTLY WHAT IS IN THE HEARTS of our Elite Politician/CEO Rulers.

He speaks loudly FOR THE ELITES,
so they can go on smiling and saying little, if anything themselves.

Allen said...

IMHO:
1) Few things to counter. Limbaugh makes few assertions that can be countered. He IMPLIES, he POKES... he does not state much clearly. How do you seriously counter a snide vocalization of the word liberal? It is like trying to counter an unfaltering "Saturday Night Live" sketch. That said, when he does make assertions they should be countered by serious news outlets. Problem is, it is the format of a comedy show. He's like a little kid bugging his sister in the back seat of a car on a long, long road trip.
2) I have to wonder if they are snowing the world on viewership numbers. How can a shill for a highly unpopular administration (sub 25% approval) claim to be popular? I have long suspected a gaming of the ratings by Murdoch's Fox News and by Clear Channel talk radio. I could be wrong but I'd like to see a serious investigation.
BTW: Stop watching any FOX. It just gives Murdoch more money to do the propaganda crap. Think you're being liberal watching "The Simpsons?"

Robert said...

It's easy because they all know he will be right on the airwaves knocking the hell out of them for days and weeks and they cant take it. He is nothing but a big fat pig mommas boy. Cant keep a woman or tell the truth, needs to bed down with O'Reilly and Hannity at the WYMCA.

Anonymous said...

The Republicans have dominated the press and government for so long, that they have intimidated any and all in the MSM who would even think of doing any indepth reporting on Limbaugh and his ilk.
They did away with the fairness doctrine so folks do not hear both sides to decide for themselves.

If we can get Obama elected, maybe the press will again do it's job.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Cdupree, thanks for your comment and kind words. You make a good point about wimpy liberals (this is something that's angered me for years).

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Allen, thanks for your comment. You make a good point about how Limbaugh implies things, but doesn't state anything clearly. As a result, countering him can be a bit frustrating (like trying to eat soup with a fork).
He rarely just comes out and states a "fact" (and when he does, he shows himself to be astonishingly ill-informed).
And I agree: the ratings numbers are suspect.

Cranky Daze said...

Since I've never listened to a Limbaugh program, I can only go by the things I've read about him, almost all of which are negative. But I'll make a guess at why it seems that the MSM (not including our boy, Olbermann) gives him a pass. It could be that to acknowledge him is to give him a kind of credibility he otherwise does not have.

People like Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck, Coulter...they all feed off of ignorance and prejudice. And one might as well expect the wind not to blow in Chicago as to expect snakes like Limbaugh not to take advantage of stupidity. There's big money in peddling hate.

Do you remember...2006 I think it was, that Jerry Springer announced he was running for...help me out here...I'm thinking it was governor of Ohio. After a time, when the public showed little interest, Springer called a news conference to announce that he was withdrawing from whichever race he was in. When he finished his little speech, he offered to take questions. The room was dead silent. Springer kept standing there looking foolish, and asked several times if anyone had any questions. Nobody responded. It was silent as the tomb. And he finally left the room. It was embarrassing to watch, even seeing it happen to a cretin like Jerry Springer.

To my way of thinking, that is perhaps similar to the attitude of the MSM toward the likes of Limbaugh and O'Reilly. I could be wrong, of course, but that's sort of the way I see it.

Cerebus said...

Absolutely amazing how Coulter and Limbaugh can elicit so many strong comments.
Limbaugh is an entertainer who has hit on a segment of society that will support him by supporting the sponsors who allow him to broadcast. It's all about the benjamins folks. He makes money for those who carry his program. The only reason Air America a) went bankrupt and b) is available mostly through the web is because it doesn't generate the revenue that Limbaugh and "his ilk" do. Ann Coulter is an opinionated columnist. OPINION. No one forces anyone to listen to her ar read her books. I think she might outsell Franken by just a little bit.
Why not direct out attention to the porosity of our borders, the decline of the American dollar and the arrogance of multi-national corporations. You don't like Limbaugh, don't listen; you don't like Coulter, don't buy her books. If you enjoy Air America get off your duff and support it. This is simple economics.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Cerebus, thanks for your note.

I actually think there is more to it than your comment indicates.
Air America's problems are about more than simply lacking the ratings to draw ad revenue.

I don't know if you recall this, but an infamous "black list" emerged a while back of various top corporations that made it clear that they never wanted to advertise on Air America.

Note that this black list didn't say, "if ratings are bad."

It said they didn't want to advertise on Air America, no matter what the circumstances.

It's obvious why: Air America is a source of progressive, pro-union, pro-worker news that scares the holy shit out of corporate America.

This is about more than just a matter of ratings (despite the simplistic arguments trotted out by many).

You might argue that "this is the way it ought to be."

But I would ask: should the only viewpoints we hear be the ones that corporate America wants us to hear?

Is that "freedom of speech"?

So the people with the most money are the only ones who get their viewpoints broadcast on the nation's airwaves (airwaves which are owned by the people, BTW--although most Americans are unaware of this). Is that "fair"? Is that "freedom"?

LeeSee said...

Gave you a mention on our blog, just discovered it yesterday.

dr sardonicus said...

I do agree with Brian Williams that Limbaugh's talents haven't received their proper due; the man virtually created political talk radio as we know it today. Talent has absolutely nothing to do with character.

That's one reason the MSM treats Limbaugh with kid gloves - to them, he's a sort of warped genius. The other big reasoin is demographics. A couple of years ago I saw an article that said Limbaugh's average listener was a 40+ white male earning $100,000+ a year - the most coveted demographic in all media. Acquire that kind of access to the people who buy things, and the entire media world will fall at your feet.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi LeeSee, thank you.
I'm checking out your blog right now, nice job.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Dr Sardonicus, thanks for your comment.
re:
>>A couple of years ago I saw an
>>article that said Limbaugh's
>>average listener was a 40+ white
>>male earning $100,000+ a year

I wonder how accurate those numbers are, though. I listen to Limbaugh myself from time to time (it's important to Know Your Enemy).
And I never cease to be amazed at just how idiotic and ill-informed his ramblings are.
Like other progressives, I really don't have a problem with Limbaugh because he's a right-winger---my problem with him is ENTIRELY because he is a fucking liar.
What's more, I know a number of Rush listeners. Without exception, they're dim-witted and spectacularly uniformed about politics and the real state of the world. And none of them make anywhere near 100 grand a year.

Cerebus said...

"What's more, I know a number of Rush listeners. Without exception, they're dim-witted and spectacularly uniformed about politics and the real state of the world. And none of them make anywhere near 100 grand a year."
Look, you are a decent writer and you should know that the generalizations you make about Limbaugh are indefensible from a simple logical point of view.

You also took the time in a reply to my post that "Air America" had been black listed. The characterless inhabitants of the mostly empty suits that call the shots in terms of broadcast content are the same ones who caved under pressure to remove Imus for a dreadfully stupid remark. Their motivation is not profit, but rather the lack of profit and that is why they stay away from anything even remotely controversial. Don't forget that Michael Savage was subjected to the same pressures Air America was. Their reply is always the same: "The media directors of (XYZ) company have a long standing policy against advertising on any politically controversial program"

Anonymous said...

How true! I used to know so many ditto heads that slavishly repeated his lies until he actually started turning on the middle class.

His rise to fame occurs with the full blessing of the illuminati who want to promote the NWO and who will destroy and eradicate the once formidable middle class.

NickDanger0001 said...

If you pay attention to the advertisers on Limbaugh, etc., they see the average listener as male (endless products aimed at men), balding (quack hair restore remedies), fat (quack weightloss products), can't get it up (viagra ads), middle class or below (get-rich-quick schemes), and not very bright (learn big words ads). This perception by the sponsors tells us quite a bit and mostly uncomplimentary.

Chris said...

The MSM is afraid of getting on his bad side because they want money. News is a commodity these days - bringing accurate and unbiased news to the general public is irrelevant to today's corporations.


Of course, as NickDanger0001 has noted, most of these ads are for fat, bald, and generally ugly or unintelligent individuals (mainly males). Unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh, through his lies and hypocrisy have somehow captured a large number of baby boomers and the older generation. Lo and behold, they are the largest age group by percentage in America. And they have a huge potential as customers. (That said, not all baby boomers are like this - but enough to be worth a great deal of advertising money.)

The media wants the advertising money - and the advertisers want customers. Thus, there is a sort of a truce that goes on these days. Money talks.

Anonymous said...

Lol - the effects of media concentration: only money matters now; delivering a good story to the public is not relevant.

Cerebus said...

Nickdanger said:
"If you pay attention to the advertisers on Limbaugh, etc., they see the average listener as male (endless products aimed at men), balding (quack hair restore remedies), fat (quack weightloss products), can't get it up (viagra ads), middle class or below (get-rich-quick schemes), and not very bright (learn big words ads). This perception by the sponsors tells us quite a bit and mostly uncomplimentary."
From Boomers.typepad:
These truths continue to emerge about media coverage of the Baby Boomer Generation:

1) Economically, the Boomer market is white hot, with dozens of daily news reports covering how our collective wealth is changing marketing and invigorating an entrepreneurial surge of new products and services;

2) Sociologically, Boomers constitute one of the nation's most disparaged reference groups, with periodic journalistic diatribes berating the generation for narcissism, cultural hegemony, and other high crimes.

Pick one.

Anonymous said...

"If we can get Obama elected, maybe the press will again do it's job."

You can be sure that if Obama is elected the news media will once again start 'taking on' the president and critiquing/analysing everything. The true key is to see what they do when a Republican candidate gets elected president. They gave Clinton plenty of 'air,' but what of Bush?

And I'm glad to hear someone say that the numbers on the Limbaugh listenership may be 'cooked.' I've wondered about that for a very long time....OR perhaps there should be some analysis of HOW people listen to him. Do they listen for 10 minutes while on the way to pick up kids at school and then 'hang up' or are these listeners who tune in for the whole program and truly 'follow' his themes and analysis? More likely the first, I'm guessing!