Limbaugh: A $250M Fraud*

LimbaughIn the early eighties, before he was cleaned up and suited up, Rush Limbaugh worked for the same company I did, McClatchy Broadcasting.  Back then, before Limbaugh’s show was picked up for syndication, his pants hung too low and there were buttons missing from his stained shirt.  He was a typical not-ready-for-TV radio personality and his arrogance was palpable, but nowhere near the bombastic proportions he displays today.

Talk radio loves the outrageous, and Limbaugh’s show, which preceded a groundswell of right-wing programs delivered after the FCC’s 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, delivered heftily.  His “dittoheads”, those unthinking, knee-jerk dogmatists of political Christianity (not to be confused with actual Christianity) knighted Limbaugh their authoritative godhead.  A popular personality was born, sharply dressed and looking dapper in colorful, now-signature ties.

Buoyed by a band of thick-skulled conservatives, who conveniently ignored their own stated sociopoltical agendas to wave their hero through two additional divorces and a drug scandal, Limbaugh has thrived by finely polishing the muck of conservatism to a we-can-do-no-wrong shine. It’s the kind of anemic but hyperbolic gloss that appeals to the same type of blind-faith crowd that followed Oral Roberts and really believed he would die if they didn’t send him eight million dollars.  Roberts received 9.1 million. Limbaugh signed an eight-year $250 million dollar contract in 2001 and received a $35 million dollar hiring bonus. The blind faith of the dittoheads and the corporate world that panders to them is staggering.

On September 26, 2007 Limbaugh blasted soldiers who want American forces out of Iraq as “phony soldiers“. Limbaugh, who dropped out of college after less than three semesters due to failing grades, avoided serving his country by being 4-F’ed for a pilonidal cyst – otherwise known as an often-hairy boil just above or inside the butt crack.

A man who never served his country, and who has no children in the war zone, or children whose futures he has to worry about, daring to call any soldier “phony” is a hypocrite of the worst kind. A man who never withstood the 110 degree heat of Iraq while lugging around seventy pounds of gear, waiting for the next order or the next assault, never knowing if today would be his last day of life, is not a man who should be referring to anyone in the military as “phony.”

The picture in the header for this story is my daughter, Staff Sergeant Elisabeth Devin, a flight medic and reservist, who volunteered to go to Iraq – not because she wanted to kill people, not because she believes Bush’s war is just – but because she wanted to help her fellow soldiers who were wounded at war.  She wanted to help bring them to hospitals so that those who lived could eventually come home.

Phony? Ask Elisabeth the story of the critically wounded African man fighting for American forces, who couldn’t get into a German hospital due to red tape. Ask her about the brave and limbless young men she carried on stretchers and comforted as they realized that the future they planned was not going to be the future they lived. Ask her about the flags they flew, and the tears they cried, and the sheets they pulled over the faces of the young men who didn’t survive.

Ask me, or any parent or loved one of a soldier, about the sleepless nights, the fear, and the anxious wait for letters and calls.  I was very fortunate.  My wait ended with my daughter safe and at home.  Thousands of parents, spouses, partners, children and other loved ones were not as lucky.

As usual, Limbaugh spins the story and creates a scenario in which he did no wrong and meant no offense – he was taken out of context, he cries – it’s all a smear job by MSNBC, the “liberal media”, and those shadowy leftists who are always out to get him.  However, his own words – the unedited version  that he denied his own listeners access to while launching his weak defense – tell the truth.

Rush Limbaugh should be ashamed, but shame is not a part of his gig.  And $250M can’t buy a conscience where none exists.

*Fraud: 
intentional deception resulting in injury to another person
imposter: a person who makes deceitful pretenses
something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage

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26 comments

  1. I WILL JUST HAVE TO RESPOND. WHEN I GOT IN MY CAR AND TURNED MY RADIO ON TO THE STATION I ALWAYS LISTENED TO, “THERE HE WAS”. I STOPPED MY CAR, TO FIX THE RADIO, BECAUSE I KNEW IT WAS ON THE WRONG STATION. bUT GUESS WHAT, IT WAS’NT. I SIT HERE AND SHAKE MY HEAD, BECAUSE WORDS ESCAPE ME, , HOW DID HE GET ON MY CHANNEL? NOW I HAVE NO RADIO SHOW TO LISTEN TO WHILE I AM DRIVING. UNLESS ITS EARLY IN THE MORNING. INVASION, IS THE ONLY THING I CAN THINK OF. I EMAILED THE RADIO STATION, BUT NO ANSWER, THEY COULD CARE LESS WHAT I THINK. JANE WE HAD THE MCCLATCHY BROADCASTING IN SACRAMENTO. THEY OWNED A STATION THERE I BELIEVE.

    It was KFBK, Vivian. – JD

  2. Hi Jane,
    Another brilliant post.
    How Limbaugh has survived this many years lying, breaking the law and spewing hatred is a mystry to me. He is never held accountable. You would think Jackson or Sharpton would scream to the heavens with all the racial slurs attributed to him. I have not listened to Linbaugh in years. I have heard the sound bites attributed to him on the news. Seems to be news today forgotten tomorrow. Like he has a free pass to say whatever he chooses.
    I smiled Jane as you discribed Limbaugh back in 80′s. I guess that saying ” you can’t make a fine purse out of a sows ear” applies here.
    Please thank your daughter, Elisabeth, for doing all she did for the soliders in Iraq. So strong and brave our soliders are. It makes me very proud to be an American.
    Kathy

  3. that’s right Jane.I think we still have kfbk but another owner. i only listen to 560.am whatever that station is here. But my brother is so brilliant and” he says” he loves Rush . I aked him how such a brilliant man like him could fall for all the junk Rush has to say. IT’S beyond me. i love the picture of your daughter. she is so pretty, and looks like she has a”sweet heart.”

  4. After a week’s worth of watching Ken Burns’ ‘The War’, in awe and through smiles, tears and gasps of horror, the thought of this arrogant swine impugning our soldiers in any way is almost unbearable. I’m sick of putting up with the Limbaughs, O’Reillys, Coulters and the rest of the neo-con media-whores! But, of course Jane, you put it much more thoughtfully, intelligently and reasonably…as is your great talent. Your daughter has the stature, and apparently, the fortitude of a well-loved child who has seen a need in the world and set out to lend her help. That reflects well on both of you!

  5. Thanks for this. And tell Elizabeth how wonderful I think she is! She’s the daughter of my heart saving the son of my heart. I never had the opportunity to have a child but I definately wanted one like her!

    There’s no more to be said about RL. You said it all.

  6. Guys like Rush and Bush and the rest of the rightwing “tough guys” are nothing but a bunch of phony poseurs who would crap themselves if they ever were confronted by the people they throw stones at from the safest of distances. Like the Wizard of Oz. Pull the curtain back and it’s just a little man with a big mouth. Only in their cases what they spew is dangerous and destructive and maniacal.

    Jane, how fitting that your daughter would be a healer. You must be so proud to have raised such an independent and compassionate young woman. And after what she’s already seen at her age, what in life could she not handle?

  7. Dear Jane,

    Wow! You really say it all so eloquently, I am not sure if Rush deserves it. I really don’t understand WHY so many believe in him. I saw an AD this morning on the tube with a soldier speaking out against his recent comments…. very powerful!

    Please thank your daughter for her service, bravery and unselfishness. But also Thank You for hanging in there. I can not imagine the emotions you must have gone through. I am grateful for our soldiers, I want them home safe and soon. At the same time I want to thank the all the familes for their sacrifice.

    Peace with us all.

  8. John, isn’t it interesting that despite their brainwashing rhetoric about the “liberal media,” the neo-con media personalities actually dominate talk radio and cable television? What’s left, on network channels, is news that is watered down AP-style. Investigative journalism, like the kind we experienced with with Woodward and Bernstein, seems to be an art killed for the sake of quick and easy Arbitron ratings. Media blames the deficit on the tastes of the audience, however it’s the media that shapes and promotes those tastes, whether in news, fashion, or music — the media that defines the trends and popularizes them.

    Alison, Viv, Kathy, Dee, Sheila and John, thank you for your kind words on my daughter. I think she’s pretty amazing, but admit to total bias. She’s my world.

    Dee, like you, I’m sure RL’s not worth the ink but I was writing about my hopes for the next election and had to get this off my mind first to reach a cleaner, more hopeful slate. That ad you saw — I only saw a clip, but even that was powerful. I hope it gets the coverage it deserves.

  9. Jane, your daughter is beautiful — and I don’t just mean her pretty face. You can tell she has a beautiful spirit. I am so happy to hear she is home safe and sound. I’m so glad you shared her story with us. If you care to ask her, I’d love to know if there are any specific organizations that a leftie like me could feel comfortable contributing to that would help our soldiers in Iraq. I’ve sometimes sent money to the UFO, but these days I admit I am paranoid that somehow, someway my money will get diverted to some right-wing organization that will spend it trashing liberals to our soldiers. I know that might sound nuts, but I’m in a cranky mood these days about the quagmire we are in in this country. Nothing changes. And I take no comfort in the demise of the right wing, because when I hear, in the distance, the same old sh** that Rush, Drudge, Fox, etc., are carping about and repeating, I feel very afraid that right-wingers have not learned any lessons about this man they elected not once but twice and whom they still will not admit to be much of a problem. I don’t care what the polls say or the fact that all of a sudden so many so-called “Real Conservatives” are writing books criticizing the GOP. The are johnny-come-latelies who are capitalizing on their error by writing books about the situation. While at the same time, they are not really strenuously doing much to encourage Congress to vote against Bush. So … I am not too optimistic.

    As for Rush, I don’t understand why otherwise intelligent right-wingers (and I do know intelligent ones) don’t see the schtick, the gimmick that is his show. I’ve heard one or two right-wingers say that the only problem with Rush is not what he says, but how he says it. No, believe me, it’s the message.

    One word to the wise, if I may be so bold: We on the left should never underestimate Rush or Fox or any right wing grass-roots effort to work slowly but surely toward their goal. I remember when Rush first burst on the scene, a commentator on the left said that Rush was really just a P. T. Barnum, and that it was all showmanship, and everyone recognized it for the “good show” that it was. WRONG! So wrong. He has been a galvanizing force. It sickens me and baffles me … but people do believe him. Between him and Drudge, and the White House’s talking points, they have a very efficient media machine to get out and repeat the rationalizations and down-right lies about their leader.

    I didn’t know all of his background. Thanks for the info. Enjoy your columns very much.

  10. RE: Prudy – I don’t underestimate ANYTHING anymore. Simply for this administration to get away with some how ending up in the White House for the last two terms, taking advantage of all Americans while we were vunerable by involving us in an unnecessary war and ruining our reputation across the world…. nah I don’t underestimate anything.

  11. Prudy, I’ll ask my daughter if there are any organizations she’s aware of that are non-partisan, where the donations go directly to soldiers. (Conversely, if anyone on the board knows, share your suggestions here). Give.org is one good resource to check a charity out.

    Your warning to never underestimate the power of right-wing media to sway the public is so true. Yes, I remember the talk of showmanship, and RL himself reveled in being considered an entertainer.

    I would bet that someone’s going to write a book in a few years, maybe with the title “The Brainwashing of America,” that’s going to detail the way right-wing media has systematically distorted public views. Hopefully it won’t be one of those johnnie-come-lately’s you speak of, who are largely insincere but attempting to cash in on growing public resentment.

  12. Jane; your comments on the “watered down” media coverage (I wouldn’t be so kind—misguided, ineffective and lazy) that exists today is exactly what I’ve noticed happening, particularly since the attacks on the “liberal media” by neo-cons . For years, I’ve watched the msm basically roll over and crumble under the attacks by the likes of Rush, et al. It’s shocking how apparently willing these corporate entities and their ‘personality’ mouthpieces have been to fall into line with the neo-con talking points and further their agenda. Since I found Air America, and particularly Randi Rhodes, and the Huffington Post, I feel some sense of sanity returning after years of wondering if I’d simply lost it and was alone with this churning aggravation at the “journalists” who have failed us so miserably! Finding your blog (through Rosie, another of my heros), and Jane Stillwater’s lifts me a bit more, so thank you.

  13. Thanks, Jane, for the tip as to where to donate. So far I’ve only given money to the USO, with my fingers crossed.

    I’m sorry to say that I even worry about giving money to churches for their social outreach programs if it is a church that strongly evangelizes (something which I personally am opposed to) and that has been known to encourage voters to support Republican politicians and policies. It makes me sad to be so cynical, but there you have it.

    On another note: I think a big question for Rush and right-wingers when they next complain that lefties & the antiwar movement, etc., are ruining the morale of our troops is this: If you are TRULY concerned about the morale of our troops, then why do you egg them on and tell them what kinds of things the anti-war movement is doing? If you think what we are doing might damage their spirit, then why don’t you tell the troops that you feel sure we love them as much as you do, and that our protests are not meant to make them feel bad?

    Obviously, the right wing uses the troops for their own purposes. And yet of course I do think the right wing cares about them. Their caring just takes a back seat to their endless political games. In Rush’s case, I don’t think he give’s a rat’s a**. Look at what he did this week. He’s the worst of the worst.

    I think there have been books about how effective tthe brainwashing by the right-wing media machine has been. Not sure of titles. The sad thing is, any time anyone comes out with a book that says anything critical of the right wing, it is immediately discounted. Look at all the Bush officials who called out Bush earlier on: Paul O’Neil, Richard Clarke, to name two early ones.

    I wish people could be convinced that you don’t have to watch Fox and listen to Rush and read the right-wing blogs and publications to be affected by them. Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Outfoxed” I believe is the first place where I heard the term “the Fox effect.”

    I’m just as cranky as can be these days, about these things. I don’t know where to put my efforts to forward progressive and liberal policies. I seem to encounter people who act like discussions about current events are merely “controversial TOPICS” that should be avoided at all costs, or who act like these topics are separate entities rather than actual events that can affect our lives, our future. They don’t want to discuss things like the war; the act like the only thing you can do to effect change is to support a candidate with money or time at campaign time, and then vote. I do believe the grass-roots right wing has been effective because, even as I write this, they are in their homes stuffing their envelopes, cranking out their propganda, like busy bees. They take the long view and work away toward chipping away at things like a woman’ right to choose. As we see, that has been very effective. So it’s frustrating to me that I can’t find similar industry on the left. I’m sure it has to be there. I can’t find it.

    To wrap this up and tie it back in to Jane’s blog … Rosie is who inspired me to always keep in mind the little day-to-day ways we can keep on plugging. By throwing caution to the wind and speaking up and out and loud and not neat and tidy and even always accurately, her example on “just another talk show” to TRY has truly been an inspiration for me. Right-wingers love to shake my newfound love for her by pointing out all the inconsistencies and inaccuracies they find in what she has said and done. Well, it doesn’t work. I don’t propose she is 100% perfect and 100% right. But her courage in not following the template of tiptoeing around a current topic by offering up the usual soundbytes but instead plowing up the field and throwing up into the air all the possibilities is refreshing and inspiring. Good TV? Well, yes, that, too … I suppose. But I care about THAT only in how it has exposed her to others who, like me, are reinvigorated.

  14. AS usual you amaze me. I wish I could express myself half as well as you. All I can think of is how Rush L. has anyone that believes his lies. He just rambles on and on without even thinking about who he is hurting. He and the guy on Fox, Bill something or other love getting attention no matter how bad it is. Bill, whatever actually tries to be like R.L. He is so full of himself, rude and obnoxious among other things. He never lets anyone finish a thought even if they work for Fox. Jane and Bernie are just puppets, although Jane tries to express herself but Bill won’t let her. He yells at her like she is a dummy. Bernie is afraid to cross him and I can’t for the life of me figure that out.
    I guess that’s it for now. Sorry Jane, I do go on.

  15. Mom, your words are always so beautiful! Thank you and all the wonderful people on your site for their kind comments! The support is wonderful and leaves me without words. I will look into the charities that come to us directly? If I am not mistaken there is a webpage with several to choose from that all are very good. I will let you know soon. I love you Mom! And thank you everyone. =)

    Lis

    Me & Mom

  16. To Elisabeth, Thank you for you brave service. Thank God you returned safely.
    I have been so sickened by Limbaugh and others like him, but he really has lost it now.
    Sitting there puffing away on his cigar, trying to back pedal and tell us we didn’t hear what we heard him say. But the sheep still follow, and they really buy this crap. It frightens me.
    I have five kids, young adults, who don’t need to be going over there. It has got to stop.
    I am a very proud air force brat, my dad retired with 29 years in. He was a veteran of Korea, and Vietnam. He does not believe in this war. Just try calling him phony Rush.

  17. I am sometimes so ashamed by other Americans, and Rush is one of them.

    Those people who send money to televangelists – “planting the seed of faith” they say – are every bit as deluded as those who listen to talk radio and think they’re hearing some sort of gospel. One group will see the 24K bathroom fixtures of Jim and Tammy Faye, the other group will listen to inane comments like “phony soldier” and both will create excuses. Hell, they’ll even create icons out of mascara-laden Tammy and assholes like Limbaugh.

    SOmetimes you just have to wonder at the blind sheep mentality.

  18. Looks as if he is getting just what he has been giving all these years. And listen to him whine, like a 3 year little girl! Though, I really do think he was talking about the guys who were pretending to be in the service, this is exactly what he does on every show, take people out of context and twists their words and meaning. Shame on him!!! He has such a gift that coulb be used for good, to build people up rather than tear people down and devide the nation.

  19. jane–shocked!! how do you find all this info?? i am a local-yokel beside you! where do you find all this hidden background on how the media works??? i am someone who only turns on the news if i have to–read the papers and cry at what i see—and yet–don’ t know where to turn for the truth! but, i am hungry for it–want to help–so where do you get it??
    reading this back–makes me sound pouty-am not-just sick of the crap i’m being fed-want a better diet—-soooo here i am!

    J., there are so many places, even on the web, to get solid news, much of which you might miss if you had to rely only on networks and major publications. The Huffington Post is good, so is truthout.org. And there are so many bloggers on the internet now, including journalists, researchers, and writers with diverse backgrounds and interests. I worked for radio stations and magazines and in advertising for over thirteen years. I’ve been writing for over twenty years, so all those experiences contribute to my stories. Others come from different perspectives, and so many of them are eye-opening. If you read from enough sources, it naturally follows that you’ll soon separate the bad from the good, and the reliable from the not so much. – JD

  20. I couldn’t agree with you more . . . Rush Limbaugh is indeed a fraud in every sense of the word. . . . a political charlatan, a liar, and a coward. his questionable popularity is based solely on being, (by design ?), an obnoxious, outspoken, “squeaky wheel”. . . . . . using pathetic tactics to draw attention that he would otherwise never receive . Obviously an effort to compensate for his inate mental, psychological and physical inadequacies. What’s up with those big cigars ?

    While I, (happily), do not know him personally, I do know others who do, and the consensus is that he is a mean spirited, self-agrandizing, man with few, if any, socially redeeming qualities at all. He is living proof that with the right backers and enough money, you really can dress up a piece of s**t and take it out in public! However, the fact remains, underneath it all it’s still a piece of s**t ! I for one take great pleasure in the notion that, when the mikes and cameras are off, in the dark hours of night, Rush Limbaugh, (even with his diminished capacity for truth), knows better than anyone that below that well groomed facade of inordinate arrogance, he is still, and, always will be, the college dropout, with his “pants hung too low and buttons missing on his stained shirt” ! And, if we’re lucky, with the pilonidal cyst as well !

  21. I know this is way after the fact, but you might want to check your facts, and judge things on the basis or reality rather than perception. Limbaugh was referring specifically to soldiers who had not actually participated in the way and then went on to speak about all the things they ‘witnessed’ and why the soldiers should get out. both condensed and unedited transcripts are available for anyone who cares to check. I’m not Mr. Limbaugh’s greatest fan. but if we’re going to attack the guy, let’s do so in a way that doesn’t damage our own credibility.

  22. Chris – the facts are there.

    —————————————-

    On September 26, 2007 Limbaugh blasted soldiers who want American forces out of Iraq as “phony soldiers“. Limbaugh, who dropped out of college after less than three semesters due to failing grades, avoided serving his country by being 4-F’ed for a pilonidal cyst – otherwise known as an often-hairy boil just above or inside the butt crack.

    A man who never served his country, and who has no children in the war zone, or children whose futures he has to worry about, daring to call any soldier “phony” is a hypocrite of the worst kind.
    ————————————–

    Not every soldier serves in the warzone, Chris, yet they all serve, or have served, their country, whereas Limbaugh has not.

    I stand by my article, and my credibility.

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