Local ‘Rush Radio’ Faces Pressure to Drop Limbaugh Programming
Given that you’re reading an article on a progressive news blog, the likelihood is enormous that you bear considerable ill will toward Rush Limbaugh, and as human interest seems to gravitate by nature toward the objects of its utmost loathing, I may assume with relative confidence that you’ve heard about the Sandra Fluke incident. This is the one, I’ll be brief in reminding you, where Limbaugh deemed Georgetown Law student Fluke a “slut” and, for good measure, a “prostitute,” because she testified before a U.S. House committee in favor of mandated health insurance coverage of contraceptives.
But even if you knew nothing of Limbaugh’s misguided slut-dubbing, you probably could have anticipated the uproar it has provoked. There have been few if any conspicuous displays of solidarity with the gleefully offensive commentator, and several big advertisers have cut ties with his radio program. Outrage seems to be pouring forth from every available loudspeaker and online comment section. Here in North Carolina, the Raleigh-Durham radio station WRDU—otherwise known as “Rush Radio 106.1”—has felt pressure from angry locals to drop Limbaugh’s programming entirely.
Judging by the station’s popular moniker, one might surmise that a Rush-less 106.1 would entail some significant reshuffling. In fact, as a constituent of the vocal majority of sound-minded Americans who are nauseated by Limbaugh’s latest indiscretion, I nonetheless question the reasoning of those calling for his removal from WRDU.
Say these folks want to teach Rush a lesson. Despite my hope that there exists in every human being a propensity toward rationality and compassion, I have serious doubts about Mr. Limbaugh’s capacity for improvement. This is a man whose self-worth seems to be wholly rooted in the unwarranted slandering of individuals, as well as entire genders and races, and then basking in the martyrdom he erects atop the predictable indignation he induces. To an African-American caller, Limbaugh once began his counter-argument by suggesting that the caller “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” If he has ever regretted his self-indulgent crudeness, he has kept those regrets to himself and deftly eluded their suffusion into his behavior. And the catalogue of Limbaugh’s tastelessness spans his multi-decadal, multi-million dollar career.
That brings me to the second, more likely argument behind the petition for Limbaugh’s dishonorable discharge: Getting Rush off the air, you might think, will make him a pulpit-less preacher. But it would be foolish to presume that a (wildly successful) career constructed on paranoia, willfully unenlightened invectives, and a childish delight in needless provocation would be somehow undermined by confirmation that it’s pissing people off. Both Rush and his devotees would be tickled to see his name in yet another set of headlines, regardless of the content accompanying the name. And to gain another pretext for painting himself as a victim of the cold-blooded liberal media, Rush might easily back the campaign.
Does it seem, for instance, that the current chastisements and loss of advertisers have set Mr. Limbaugh back? He has stopped juuuuuuust short of any acts of attrition, though he did apologize for using “names and exaggerations,” devices ordinarily relegated, he said, to use by those scum-of-the-earth liberals.
So if the motive for firing Rush from WRDU, his namesake station, is purely philosophical and without agenda, then I applaud the effort. But if people want to see Rush’s empire undercut, then the shrewder tactic would be simply to tune out.
This article originally appeared in Campus BluePrint, a student publication at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, that receives funding as training as part of the Campus Progress journalism network.