Yesterday RedState’s Carl Arbogast chronicled Fox News’ descent “from news alternative for conservatives to Trump-protecting garbage heap.” Fox isn’t the only conservative media source who has completely sold out. Rush Limbaugh, once the only voice in national media one could turn to daily for a conservative viewpoint, has sold out the ideology he once championed to cash in on the Trump movement.
Many of us here at RedState have been documenting his embarrassing decline for some time.
Rush turning into a geriatric Sean Hannity-esque Trump fan boy isn’t exactly news. I tuned him out a long time ago. Today I happened to be working within earshot of a radio and got to experience a particularly unctuous display of Excellence in Bullsh***ing. Things have really gotten bad for the once respectable talk radio pioneer.
I don’t have audio or transcripts so I’ll paraphrase the garbage arguments I heard El Rushbo spew this afternoon.
On Col. Ralph Peters’ departure from Fox News…
Peters quitting his affiliation with Fox with guns blazing was big news. In his fiery public statement, Peters gave as his his primary reason for leaving was not wanting to continue working with a network that had become nothing more than a propaganda arm for the Trump administration. Many of us here at RedState have been saying the same thing for a while. Fox no longer tries to be a “fair and balanced” news channel. Apart from a few exceptions, they are striving to be the anti-CNN or the anti-MSNBC—just as biased, but in favor of a different tribe.
One phrase in Peter’s lengthy statement defended Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller from what he felt was unfair treatment by some of Fox’s chief Trumpagandists. Peters called Mueller a “model public servant.”
Rush focused an entire segment today on that single line of Peters’ letter, asking why, if Mueller is such a model public servant is he continuing to investigate Trump? I won’t take issue with that line of reasoning even though I think Rush is oversimplifying things. What I take issue with is the blatant cherry picking. The elephant in the room is that accusation about Fox being in Trump’s pocket, but Rush said nothing about it while spending a lot of time denigrating Peters for defending Mueller. Choosing to ignore things is a more sinister form of media bias than reporting fake news. I make no blanket endorsement of Ralph Peters’ views but he has shined a light on Limbaugh’s highly selective observations.
On the Omnibus spending bill…
Rush told his audience today that he believes the Omnibus spending bill was a political play from “never Trumpers” in Congress in order to shake the American people’s faith in Trump (or at least the 40% of Americans who actually have faith in him).
I guess Rush thinks that if not for their alleged hatred for Trump, Congressional leadership would be cutting spending to the bone. Suggesting that deficit spending is now a Congressional conspiracy against the president is about the most unsupported and asinine accusation someone could make. It will almost certainly be echoed by the deranged Jim Hoft/Mike Cernovich wing of the Republican Party though.
Rush did get one thing right in saying Trump should veto the bill. Unfortunately the implication was that he should veto it to spite those conspiring against him and score political points, not to oppose runaway government spending.
On Trump’s “bimbo eruptions…”
This was a doozy. Rush carefully couched his thoughts as “what the average Trump supporter believes” rather than claiming them as his own. He said that the average Trump supporter doesn’t care that their president is a womanizer who runs around boinking porn stars. After all what man doesn’t have an attraction to sexy, glamorous, well proportioned women? If you talk to the average Trump supporter you probably would get that sort of rationalization. The problem is that Rush never made any stated whether he believed this himself. The enthusiasm with which he enunciated the thoughts of “average Trump supporters” suggests that he does but he was careful not to explicitly declare them right or wrong.
Anyone who listened to Rush during the Clinton administration knows that he routinely railed against that sort of take on Bill Clinton’s infidelity and rampant tomcatting. Rush was pretty much the entire conservative media back then. His rally cry then was that “character matters.” Rush still has it listed in is “35 Undeniable Truths of Life.”
#7: Character matters; leadership descends from character.
Many political and religious figures on the right echoed the sentiment when the Democrat media argued that playing hide the cigar with an intern in the oval office and then perjuring himself had no bearing on his ability to lead.
How did Rush address the glaringly obvious contradiction between then and now? He said that at least Trump didn’t need a “wingman” to gather phone numbers or round up women as Clinton did. Trump goes right up to the women himself (and just starts kissing and grabbing them, if we take Trump at his word). Somehow marital infidelity is not a character flaw from which flawed leadership descends anymore now that a Republican with Clinton-ish tendencies leads the party.
I’m sure if questioned about it Rush will use the escape hatch he left for himself by attributing these thoughts to hypothetical Trump supporters. Don’t expect him to comment on the quality of Trump’s character in anything but positive terms though. He apparently thinks he can’t afford to. He has planted his flag next to those who confuse bombast with leadership and angering the left on Twitter with advancing constitutionally conservative principles.
Faced with the the rise of Trumpism, Rush could have chosen to continue to stand for the ideas he stood for back in the 1990s and let the chips fall where they might. The only thing he had to lose was ratings. He’s already got more money than he’ll ever spend. Instead, Rush stuck his moistened finger in the air to triangulate the direction the winds were blowing and decided to follow the mob. That is something for which he used to mock politicians mercilessly. He chose relevance over ideology and lost both in the process.
I’m left to believe that either Rush was lying back in the Clinton days or he’s grown too cowardly to apply the same criteria to Trump.
Character does matter. Leadership does descend from character. Rush is no longer saying that, but he is backwardly proving it every day.