Friday, May 13, 2005

Excellence in bloviation

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who inexplicably made the Discovery Channel's top 100 list for the title of "Greatest American," singled out an Illinois high school during his Tuesday show, blasting the school for its required "global perspectives" classes and saying its students "don't know anything about World War II" and have "probably never heard the name Adolf Hitler."

A few students promptly challenged Limbaugh to a debate on American history. You might think such a fearless defender of truth, justice, and the American way would jump at the chance to show off his superior knowledge and to demonstrate the futility of public education. Strangely, though, Limbaugh has yet to accept the challenge, probably because he's too busy fending off Florida prosecutors or, even worse, Feminazis.


Blogger Hanging by the News said...

I can't pull up the list of the Discovery Channel's 100 Greatest Americans here on the Mac, but I would say that Limbaugh's inclusion on the list is pretty justified.

When you think of talk radio, Limbaugh is likely the first personality that comes to mind. Wikipedia states that Limbaugh is the most listened to radio talk show host in the United States and boasts a weekly audience of more than 20 million.

He's been a syndicated talk show host since 1988, which I'm guessing beats most of the talk show hosts on the airwaves today.

And I believe that if it wasn't for Limbaugh's popularity over the years, we wouldn't have a large talk show market that could hold Sean Hannity, Alan Colmes, Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken, Larry Elder, Jerry Springer and more. Of course, CNN and Fox News have also contributed to that with their news commentary shows hosted by a single host.

I don't defend Limbaugh's "doctor-shopping," but I think he's only one of hundreds of thousands of Americans with a drug problem. I think that instead of trying to single him out and prosecute him, Florida officials should try to give him some help.

It's surprising that we interview Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown on their illegal drug use around their children, and no one attempts to take their children and put them in a better home, yet we target Limbaugh for purchasing legal drugs (albeit illegally) even after he's trying to get himself out of the vicious cycle of excessive legal drug use.

Maybe you don't like the guy, or maybe you don't care one way or the other for him, but give the guy a break. And don't deny that he is one of the most influential figures in radio history.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

Limbaugh once called 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton the "White House dog." He once told a black caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back." He's repeatedly twisted or ignored the truth during his radio career.

Perhaps our definitions of "Great American" differ.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

"And don't deny that he is one of the most influential figures in radio history."

Influence isn't necessarily positive. Limbaugh has contributed to the dumbing down of political discourse in this country to the point that any nuance is shouted down as flip-flopping. He has also demonized drug abusers while he was breaking the law. That's usually known as hypocrisy, and, while most of us are guilty of that from time to time, we don't make a living trashing others for committing the same sins we have committed.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Hanging by the News said...

The Chelsea jab might have been a low blow, but I'd venture a guess that left-wing commentators have said similar or worse comments about the Bush daughters.

Yes, the Snopes article points out that he did make the "bones out of your nose" comment, but it also points out that he made it in the early 1970s. How long are you going to keep a record of somebody's faults or negative actions? Thirty years from now, I think we all will have amassed a few instances where we inserted a foot into our mouth.

I think few political commentators are innocent of the crime of twisting or ignoring the truth. Al Franken is one such commentator I can think of, and as one of the most recognizable personalities on the left as an Air America talk show host, he serves as a good counterexample to Limbaugh. Even Michael Moore, another "Great American," took several liberties in Fahrenheit 9/11.

If Limbaugh can be attributed to the "dumbing down" of political discourse in America, he's far from the only one. Close-mindedness, spin and hypocrisy aren't limited to one side of the political spectrum.

It's OK to listen to Limbaugh, Franken, Hannity or Colmes - but knowing that each represents one side of the political spectrum, it is your duty to take what each one says with a grain of salt. Listening to both sides every once in a while can't hurt, either.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

If a liberal commentator ever denigrated the Bush twins while they were minors and were doing nothing to place themselves in the public spotlight, I never heard about it. Regardless, I don't like the implication that just because both sides may be doing it, it's somehow justified; it's deplorable for a grown man to say something like that about a 13-year-old. She didn't choose her parents.

I haven't read all of the points at the anti-Al Franken site you posted, but based on a cursory glance, I'd take everything there with a grain of salt. Among the "lies" the site alleges are that Franken cracked a couple of jokes about white Irish guys and that Franken was actually right when he said the Los Angeles Times covered a story, but he, um, just wasn't right enough. Spinsanity, whose creators unfortunately have stopped updating the site, took a more nonpartisan look at Franken's work.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Hanging by the News said...

When politics is involved, everything should be taken with a grain of salt.

I said the "Chelsea jab was a low blow," but I never implied it was OK because other commentators have made similar comments. I'm just saying that it happens on both sides, and to some extent. the other side gets away with it.

The Bush twins might have tried to get a few alcoholic drinks while they were underage, but I don't think they were attempting to place themselves in the public spotlight. Maybe, just maybe, they're just like many other college-aged students who try to get some alcohol before turning 21.

And while, yes, they were breaking the law, they do not deserve having those exploits in the news because they're the president's daughters - they too didn't choose their parents. Any other kids their age trying to score some drinks wouldn't be news - why should they be featured on the evening news, then?

But they became the butt of a few jokes anyway, and I never saw any backlash to those who made such comments.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

I don't think it's fair to attack the Bush twins for drinking underage in college, considering that so many Americans have done it and there's no real social stigma attached to it anymore.

Like it or not, though, it's newsworthy whenever a president's children break the law, and they were 19 at the time, which means they were legally responsible for their actions. In contrast, Chelsea Clinton was 13, a minor, and did nothing whatsoever to prompt Limbaugh's attack on her.

The situations just aren't analogous.

9:25 PM  

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