Rush Limbaugh’s America

 


December 21, 2019 – Rush Limbaugh speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gage Skidmore | Wikimedia Commons)

December 21, 2019 – Rush Limbaugh speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gage Skidmore | Wikimedia Commons)

Politics and the media in 2021 exist in the world that Rush Limbaugh created. The polarizing king of talk radio died on Wednesday at age 70 from complications of lung cancer. In 32.5 years on the national airwaves, he managed both to say some genuinely horrible, bigoted things and to be a hero to and the voice of millions of Americans. One thing is certain: just about every part of politics and media bears his imprint. 

The often incendiary, in-your-face conservative content broadcast on hundreds of radio stations, three cable news channels, and countless digital sites every day? All Rush. He saved AM radio as it struggled to find unique programming in the late 1980s, and his rise to stardom revealed that there was a massive audience yearning for opinionated conservative broadcast content. 

The late night comedy shows that are anything but conservative, but inform between laughs? They’re deploying the unique form of “infotainment” that the host pioneered by fusing information and entertainment, with little regard for journalistic conventions and a focus on putting on a great show and keeping people tuned in.

Podcasts steeped in the host’s opinions and values? Again, credit Rush — before him, executives believed that the best-spoken word content was local, focused on callers, interviews, and rarely involving the host’s takes. 

The Republican Party that went from being led by the serious, pragmatic George H.W. Bush to the bombastic, oftentimes racist showman Donald Trump during Limbaugh’s run on the airwaves? Also only imaginable in Rush’s America. He helped excise first liberals, then moderates, and eventually mavericks — who were generally conservative but departed from orthodoxy on a few issues — from the party, while coming to insist that compromise equaled capitulation and Democrats threatened the most basic of American values. Our polarized America is Limbaugh’s America. Even the figures in the conservative movement with real juice today owe their power to Limbaugh — influence is all about the soundbite, not legislative skill, policy knowledge, or getting things done. 

So from Donald Trump to Ted Cruz to Matt Gaetz, Joe Rogan to Stephen Colbert to John Oliver, and Tucker Carlson to Sean Hannity to Ben Shapiro, Limbaugh planted the seeds for their influence today. 

Whether you loved him or hated him, recognize that no one had more impact in shaping where we are both politically, and in terms of the media we consume, than Rush Hudson Limbaugh III. 

Share With Your Connections
Share With Your Connections

More Exclusive Content

We welcome for consideration all submissions that adhere to three rules: nothing defamatory, no snark, and no talking points. It’s perfectly acceptable if your view leans Left or Right, just not predictably so. Come write for us.

Write for Smerconish.com
Get the Latest News from Smerconish.com in Your Inbox
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Smerconish.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact