Limbaugh’s Lamentable Legacy

Listen to this episode

S1: The following content could, in fact, be explicit, contain moments of explicit, reflexive, explicative pure trace elements of explication, actually that last one’s goal. It’s Wednesday, February 17th. Twenty twenty one from Slate. It’s the gist. I’m Mike Pesca. Friends, Rush Limbaugh has expired. The pitiless realities of lung cancer have done to him what critics and protesters couldn’t and radio programmers would never dare. Rush Limbaugh has been canceled. Limbaugh, a dedicated cigar man, could inveigh against climate science and evolutionary science. But it was the remorseless amorality of cellular metastasis that was the scientific truth that he could not ultimately deny. Death’s icy claws came for him at the age of 70, not to be warded off by President Trump’s alleged genius awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award bestowed and therefore befouled by a monster around the neck of a beast. Yes, a demon giving the devil his due that event. Rush Limbaugh being awarded the highest honor that can be given to a civilian and then riotously applauded by Republicans. Seems like a small pockmark among the indignities of the Trump administration. But I don’t think it was it was nothing less than symbolic of the total desecration of decency over the last four years. By the end of Trump’s term, after everyone from Dolly Parton to Bill Belichick declined, the by then Suli toward it began to take on a perverted logic. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was once given to exceptional members of society. By the end, the truly exceptional act of being granted this medal would have been in the accepting of it. Nero is said to have made his horse a magistrate, just as Trump made Limbaugh the American equivalent of a knight. It was disgusting. It was odious. It was repellent. It was sadly an accurate reflection of Rush Limbaugh. I did not hate Rush Limbaugh. It might seem by the words I’m saying, that that would be a word that could apply to my reaction towards Rush. But now I didn’t see either scream at the radio when he came on. Sometimes I even marveled at his craft. Sometimes I listened to understand how the right would frame their arguments. He was better at his job than anyone else who ever attempted it. Sadly, a large part of that job was to breathe energy and life into calumnies, insults and destructive lies that, if taken seriously, would make life worse. For most Americans, it is many people’s fault besides, but including Rush Limbaugh, that those words were taken seriously among citizens who have held no office and who answer to no elected officials. Limbaugh was probably the most influential in the last three decades. Steve Bannon or Sean Hannity was to Rush Limbaugh with Chad and Jeremy were the Beatles. As you’ll hear in my upcoming interview with Brian Rosenwald, we both believe that Rush Limbaugh was as impactful a figure on American politics as there has been over the last 35 years. He was awful and destructive and cruel in his phrasing and framing. But I do think you have to recognize the skills that allowed him to hold that sizable in audience and that sizable a mind share among conservatives for so long. Maybe there’s no current comparison in the culture to Rush. You have to go back to Milton and realize the devil gets all the good lines. Now, if you were saying, Mike, I was charged. Well, I hope my assessment shocked and perhaps even appalled you for its ferocity. But I also hope that along the way, you were, if not entertained and I hope, entertained, then at least compelled to keep listening, to hear what terrible thing about a loathed figure, I might say next. I did that intentionally, if not to honor than to evoke the man and his methods on the show today. Well, we break format. Rush Limbaugh was awfully important. I mean, that precisely. Awfully important. So I blow out the spiel. We talked to Ryan Rosenwald for the whole rest of the show. Bryan teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s cross disciplinary type fellow. It’s a little history, a little communications, a little poli sci. And he also listens to more conservative talk radio than maybe Brian Rosenwald. Applause. Rush Limbaugh has died not since Father Coughlin, the 1930s radio priest, has there been as influential a figure on the airwaves in terms of American politics, although you can argue that Limbaugh was more influential than Father Coughlin, who got 90 million listeners, which is amazing, especially given the fact that the population with 130 million, but he only lasted a short time and was quickly reined in by the Vatican. In fact, you could argue I’m going to do this here, that Rush Limbaugh was as important a figure in the conservative movement and the America we live in today, as important as any American other than maybe presidents. And I would also say certainly more than some presidents, are we living in George H.W. Bush’s America or one that Rush Limbaugh made? Joining me now is my favorite person to talk about Rush and the impact of talk radio. It’s Brian Rosenwald. He is the author of Talk Radio’s America How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States. Brian, thanks for coming back on the gist.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Mike, it’s always great to be with you.

S1: So Rush has not been on the air since, I think, February 2nd. What sort of content was he putting out post election, post insurrection, talk of impeachment?

S2: He was falling back on his usual tactics, which is when someone on the right did something that was indefensible, where he could not offer up a cogent defense. He would point to double standards in the media. And among liberals, he would you know, so he was playing to last summer’s uprisings and saying, see, they didn’t care about violence when it was on their side. And then he would, you know, kind of dabble in conspiracy and say, you know, maybe those people in the capital were not Trump supporters and that kind of thing. And he would also point out that, you know, liberals in the mainstream media were getting all worked up about something for a political purpose that, you know, it was all faux outrage. He did this over and over. They love to point at double standards that were sort of like this, this playbook that they fall back on in these moments. And so it was a lot of that over the last couple of weeks that he was on the air where he was kind of, you know, trying to point things in the direction that could be good for his side politically. And that reflected the feelings of his audience.

Advertisement

S1: Right. Did he say anything to your knowledge? Did he really get into anything about Kuhnen in the last few months or years? I don’t

S2: think so. You know, Rush’s show was you know, Rush was the star. It was about Rush Rush’s opinions. And, you know, for even for somebody who was willing to dabble in conspiracy theories, Kuhnen was a little bit of a bridge too far, I think, for him.

Advertisement

S1: Right. Right. I think I take your analysis that to get into that is ceding the ground or ceding the narrative to something that he can’t control and that probably he doesn’t think too highly of.

S2: Right. Yeah. I mean, you know, look, there’s always been a question of, well, how much of what Rush says does he actually believe? How much of it is very carefully constructed? You know, he got in trouble in early December. He said, you know, I think we might be headed towards secession. And obviously, as he’s Rush Limbaugh, this made major headlines. And he the next day he came on. He loved to do this. He said, you know, I never said I was for secession or anything like it. You can check the transcript. And he would do this all the time where he’d say, you know, I saw this thing in this, you know, in the early days on this CompuServe message board and, you know, more recently, like Breitbart or this site or that site. And he read something that someone else said and everybody would jump on him and say, I never said that. And if you went back, he was saying no. This person said he would introduce ideas without taking ownership of them because he knew they were kind of too far out there. But he was focused on where is my audience? What are they interested in? What do they want to hear about? What are they reading? Where are they consuming? And then it was refracted through the lens of his very distinct take.

Advertisement

S1: So do you think I overstated his importance in the introduction?

S2: No, I was actually nodding my head thinking, you know, Mike’s really nailing this because I really think that if you look at the most significant figures in late 20th and early 21st century American politics, you could probably say Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, you know, maybe a couple of others. He’s up there in that kind of pantheon because first of all, he reshaped the media. He created a world, you know, when Rush goes national, August 1st of nineteen eighty eight, there is CNN is eight years old, but you’ve got ABC, CBS, NBC, you’ve got your major newspapers, you’ve got your wire services. They dominate the news. You know that that small group of journalists are running everything. They have a gatekeeper role. They decide what they think is newsworthy. And Rush comes on and does something that’s very different, rushes to. Jay at heart, he had been fired a bunch of times in the 70s, he was spinning Elton John records and he applied the same shtick to talking politics. So he’s doing something that’s an entertainment product. He said. People listen to the radio for three things entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. And he was a showman, you know, wasn’t a journalist. He didn’t care about facts as much as putting on a good show, giving his audience tuned in for the longest possible time and as he put it, charging confiscatory advertising rates. So he remade the media in a lot of ways and paved the way for everything from late night comedy that really deals with politics, but is not driven by journalism to conservative talk radio and cable. And then in politics, I think the best way of putting it is when he goes national August 1st of nineteen eighty eight. The Republican candidate for the presidency is George Herbert Walker Bush, who is a, you know, New England patrician with a dose of Texan thrown in. And he is certainly a serious, sober politician who feels, you know, a lot of responsibility. When his communications aide suggested that he go on Regis and Kathie Lee, he said, you know, that’s below the dignity of the presidency. And the last Republican president during Rush’s reign was Donald Trump, who I don’t think there was anything below the dignity of the presidency in his book. But he took the talk radio playbook and applied it to politics without rush. You don’t see that transformation, the far right Republican Party that we have today that is focused on warfare, politics, where the other side is not, you know, good, decent, God fearing Americans who just disagree with us. They are trying to destroy American values and the American way of life. That kind of paradigm comes from this media that he created and the influence it had on the Republican Party.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Now, I want to go back and underline one point that is maybe hard for people to hear who didn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh. He was excellent at his job. Let’s just bracket if his job was pure evil or mostly evil. My opinion, I have to agree. But he was excellent at his job in a way that, you know, he had 15 million listeners, let’s say, and was the most listened to radio program. If you go down the list, I wouldn’t say the host of the second most. Listen to radio program, Sean Hannity. I don’t think he’s nearly as good. In fact, I don’t even think personally, I don’t think he’s much of a showman at all. I don’t think he presents much of a show. Then you have Mark Levin, then you have Glenn Beck. I do think that there are many people in right wing talk radio who are coasting on Rush’s fumes or just saying the party line that people want to hear but are in no way bringing the level of I’m sorry, I’m going to say it craft and entertainment that Rush Limbaugh did.

Advertisement

S2: I think that’s absolutely right. You know, there is something that is undoubtedly going to be lost. I already see it on Twitter, you know, as we speak, whether it’s Rush Limbaugh, hatemonger, Rush Limbaugh, all of this. And, you know, as you said, I think to really assess him as a figure, we have to put that aside long enough to acknowledge that he is a supreme talent and entertainment. The only person in radio, in spoken word media who in that era you can say has the same town, is probably Howard Stern.

Advertisement

S1: Glad you said that. That’s the name that came to mind. Yeah.

S2: Those are the two guys where you say they are the supreme talents. What happened is a lot of people in the radio industry decided that the reason for his success was his conservatism. And there was something to that. He had people calling up gussying, thank God you’re on the air, rush. We finally have a voice. You know, everything that got Short-Handed into dittos and megadose, because let’s be honest, nobody wants to hear a show where all the callers are calling up to gush about the host, except maybe the host. So he has the impact, but he’s also the supreme talent as an entertainer. To understand him, you have to listen to his early years and the parodies and the nicknames and the skits. And you never knew what he was going to do. And some of it was undoubtably morally awful. There’s no way around it. You have to acknowledge that. But there was a lot of it that even if you thought it was bad, you probably were fighting back a chuckle because he was funny. He was entertaining. He was to the right what Jon Stewart was to the left. The other side saw him as mean spirited. They saw him as hateful. They saw him is terrible. But, you know, we’re talking about the kind of guy who in the 70s would impishly, when he was on the air under names like Rusty Sharp, he went by, he would call the pizza place and say that he was ordering 500 pizzas and they was from the station down the street. You know, those kinds of antics, almost shock jock antics. And he was just enormously talented. And you had all these people who followed after him who were either focused on the politics, who were just not particularly entertaining. You know, you you mentioned Mark Levin. I think that he’s figured out that as long as he’s screaming, it doesn’t really matter what the content is. All right, you know, it’s all about the volume level and Henry’s got a good voice. Yeah.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Or you have a guy like Sebastian Gorka, I mean, who just terrible at his job. He just got the job because he had a name, right?

S2: Because he had a name and he was pro Trump and he was, you know, in in this political world, Rush Limbaugh. It’s not that Rush Limbaugh is an enormously talented entertainer. He you know, when he was doing condom updates with theme song Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon or wilderness updates where it was, Andy Williams is bored and free. That was overdub with like animal squawking and mortar blasts and shotgun sounds and things that were designed to kind of mock animal rights activists and things like that. It was it was fun. It was zany. You know, he was referring to people with nicknames and had all these parodies. He did this mini series that got datas. Now, because you remember what the old Sunday night, Tuesday night, Thursday night mini series was, that doesn’t exist anymore on the big, you

Advertisement

S1: know, the winds of war, the thorn birds, these appointment televisions.

S2: Yeah, exactly. And he did one. He recorded a teaser for one called Gulf War One, where he cast the whole damn thing and he cast it where the casting was funny. Betty White was Barbara Bush. Ringo Starr was Yasser Arafat. But below the surface, it reflected his politics. He had, you know, all of the Republicans and the conservatives were suave, like manly, you know, Stallone and Eastwood and the the stars of Hollywood. Their wives were the starlets, Bo Derek and people like that. I think he had Stallone playing himself. And Bo Derek is his own wife. But, you know, and the liberals and the Democrats and the media were all much more negative connotations. He emasculated them. He called into question the veracity. He painted them as evil. I think Peter Arnett from CNN was Jack Nicholson as the Joker, things like that. So he was political, but it wasn’t the commentary stuff that you get from Hannity where he’s just railing all the time. It was really funny, creative, kind of entertaining stuff. And I think people who just listen to Rush, you know, the last five, ten years missed some of that, that there were some of it. You know, he did a segment after the election where he referred to Mitch McConnell as the turtle, which, yes, he kind of looks like a turtle. I can see that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: And that’s a Jon Stewart joke. Yeah, because that goes back to,

S2: you know, he can do the joke thing. He was very versatile as a broadcaster like that. And he was really talented. You know, he developed the environmentalist wacko method of picking football games because he had somebody in his ear, some radio executive or consultant saying, you know, the people are tuned in for issues. They don’t want to hear you picking football games and Russell of the NFL. And so he developed this environmentalist wacko method of sort of like, well, you know, the Steelers were really terrible. They’ve destroyed the environment or something like that, or the eagle is the symbol of America. So, you know, they have to lose because the environmentalist wackos wouldn’t like them. And he picked games that way for years because he wanted to have some sort of substantive thing to hold. And I could go on and on and on. And you look at these bits and like even where, again, morally, I say to myself, God, this is really offensive. It’s funny. You know, he my my favorite one, maybe eighty nine. He’s just gone on the air nationally and Democrats control Congress. President Bush is in the White House and he got annoyed that Democrats, especially the guy he called for, worthless Jim Wright, who was the speaker of the House, but he was from Fort Worth, Texas. And he said, you know, these guys act like they won. And so he decided to remind them that they had lost and he did that. Every time Michael Dukakis gets in the news, he refers to him as the loser. And The Beatles I’m a Loser is his theme song. And he loved it because there’s a line in there. It says, and I’m not what I appear to be. And he claimed that Dukakis claimed to be a moderate and that he was actually, you know, liberal. And that was just indicative of Russ. Yes, he had a political perspective. Yes, he had a point, but it was entertaining. It was creative. You’re like, wow, this guy, you know, he’s his brain is going directions. Nobody else could.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: And if it is maybe smart, maybe political, maybe funny talk that you like, I’ll continue talking with Brian. We’ll take a short break and then come back and talk about some of the real ugliness that came out of the golden microphone that Rush Limbaugh spoke into for so many years. We’re back with Brian Rosenwald talking about Rush Limbaugh and Brian, I didn’t want to just spend so much time doing the equivalent of talking about Leni Riefenstahl and her brilliant shot composition. Limbaugh said some things that were really disgusting, ugly, inaccurate. It wasn’t just that he was rude or a shock jock, he said. And if you could just recount some of the more harmful things that he said over the years.

Advertisement

S2: Yeah, I mean, he misogynistic, racist. There were elements of him that were traditional conservative. You know, talking about the graduated income tax is an assault on achievement. But, you know, he used to say that he was a fan of the women’s movement from behind it. You know, he told a joke once about women at the country club who wanted forgiveness, was their own locker room of their own exercise room. But the man, you know, kind of reluctantly give it to him. And then they’re like, we want our own equipment. And he’s like, and they gave him a washer dryer, an ironing board, you know, the height of misogyny. He talked about feminazi and things like that. There was absolutely racists. Kinds of commentary about Barack Obama before that, about other black political leaders.

S1: Yeah, I mean, he did a song parody, Barack the Magic Negro, to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon. And he had his justification for that. But, you know, just sit with that and think about hearing that come out over the radio, as it did on a loop. I mean, he played it several times.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah. I mean, he did a parody early in his run where Barney Frank was the banking queen, where he’s Barney Frank updates. The theme song was My Boy Lollipop, things that were pretty clearly designed to mock, you know, LGBTQ people. He did AIDS updates early on where he I heard the show where he was auditioning potential themes for it. And they were terrible. Dionne Warwick. I’ll never love like that again. Gene Autry back in the saddle again. I mean, really bad in poor taste. And to be fair to him, the only thing he ever apologized for was his AIDS content at one point decided after a pretty short period of time, look, this is really in poor taste. But, you know, he did a lot of horrible things from Sandra Fluke to you name it, he’s done it and he’s said it and been insulting and been, you know, spread misinformation. Any charge that that someone’s going to put up in the next couple of days is probably true. We have to try to achieve this balance of saying this is the guy who reshaped the media. He reshaped the Republican Party. He was this brilliant, gifted entertainer. But it was kind of like the dark arts. He used his power to do a lot of terrible things. And that’s why, you know, usually when someone prominent dies, you see sort of like everybody come together about like the good parts of that person. Whereas with Rush Limbaugh and this was true when he got the Medal of Freedom last year, all the Democrats are sitting stone faced. All the Republicans are up wildly cheering to conservatives. He gave them a voice. He fought back against the left that scorned them, that, you know, condescended to them, that trampled on their values and treated them like rubes to the left. He was this awful, hateful, misogynistic, racist, anti LGBTQ just terrible person who spread hate. And I think there’s some truth in both perspectives.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: So I want to get to the future. But first, lately, I don’t know, within the last decade, every once in a while, something he said would become a a cause to be appalled about. But it always seemed to me and sometimes it would come from a site like Media Matters for America or someone with the ability to, you know, get our attention to something. Rush says about Sandra Fluke, what have you. It always seemed to me that this was an exercise in just taking any random ten minute chunk of his show and broadcasting it to America. I never really understood which were the things or what was the rhyme and reason to. Now, this is the thing that Rush Limbaugh said that was outrageous that we all have to get upset about. But did you did you see a pattern to hear? Are the worst things that he said or hear are the things that he’s saying that no one else would say? How do you assess that, that little micro industry of pointing to what the latest Rush Limbaugh outrage was? How did that work?

S2: Well, one really interesting thing that his story, his career and that gets not just him, but other conservative hosts in trouble when Rush goes national in nineteen eighty eight. If you wanted to hear what he said, you need to be in front of an AM radio able to get reception. You know, I remember talking to people who did communications in the H.W. Bush White House and they were like, we’re not even sure we could hear his show because the White House didn’t get him radio reception like they’d go somewhere else to listen. You know, if you wanted a recording of it and you weren’t listening live, you better have had a cassette recorder yet. Now, kids, there were these things called cassettes that the. And I remember that that were much less easy to use than digital music, but, you know, you would have had to hit the hole down the play and record on your cassette player to record his show by the, you know, the end of his run. He has Media Matters monitoring him at all times. And when you get to the era of monitoring like that and transcripts and Internet streaming, any time these hosts get beyond their core audience that thinks they’re great, they got themselves in trouble with Rush. What do you last for weeks as an ESPN football commentator before he said something racist about Donovan McNabb and got knocked off the air? And what I remember, you know, thinking when I came across that tidbit, you know, I remember Donovan Eagles fan, so I remembered it from when it happened. But once I started contextualising within my research, what it came down to was he didn’t say anything that was any worse than things he had been saying for years. In fact, it was probably more benign, but it reached an audience that wasn’t his core conservative audience. And they said, oh, my God, this guy is terrible. And that would happen, you know, repeatedly whenever he went viral. It was bad for him because people were not. His audience who didn’t take the Sandra Fluke thing is a funny kind of tongue in cheek. You know, he’s trying to show you the absurdity or hypocrisy or this or that to point to things. That’s how his audience saw it. But beyond thinks it was like, oh, my God, this guy is so crude or so mean or so bigoted. And it didn’t go well for him because it was a program designed for his audience. He used to say, I forget if it was four or six weeks, but when he first goes on nationally, he said, you know, when your market picks the show up, if you’re new here, it’s going to take you four to six weeks to figure out what I’m doing. And stations used to get inundated in those first couple of weeks with calls about how, oh, my God, you know, get this guy off the air. He’s the worst thing ever. He’s so bigoted. He’s so awful. You know, he used to abort colors, all kinds of stuff. And then within a month or so, the ratio of positive to negative changed. It was this guy so refreshing. He’s so unique. He’s so different. So it really was a case where his audience were like, if you can picture yourself, you go into a place that you’ve never been with a very unique culture and you go into the local bar and you feel like a fish out of water. That’s what happens when Limbaugh’s comments went out beyond the Limbaugh universe.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: So let’s talk predictions here. We are acknowledging that this unique talent has left the radio dial and the mortal coil. What happens in his place? Is it that there is this whole right wing media ecosystem? Someone takes that slot on the AM dial, that person will be listened to. The right wing thought, such as it is, isn’t diminished at all. We’ve been talking about how singularly talented he was. Should the case be made that with no Rush Limbaugh, of course, that there’s going to be some diminishment of the power intensity, actual arguments that the right uses?

S2: I think that, first of all, the content that he created, this perspective driven infotainment right wing content that, you know, is a bunch of people who are not journalists, who are trying to provoke emotion and engagement from their audience and want to keep people tuned in as long as possible is going nowhere. And the reason I say that is even if you say, well, well, Brian, you know, younger people are lean much more left and that’s not good when when your demographics get old. You know, we can say that that Rush used to say when someone died that they had assumed room temperature. When your audience is up in that that age range, that’s not good. But here’s the thing. In a major market, you only need three to five percent of the audience to have a wildly successful show. And that goes for every medium, you know, under the sun. You know, if you get three to five percent of people between 30 and thirty five or something, you have a wildly successful podcast. So I think the content is with us one way or another. I think the delivery mechanism may change. I think this could spell the end of AM radio. Most people in the radio business will tell you that Rush Limbaugh saved AM radio in the 80s and AM radio is facing new headwinds today. You know, even the talk stations are migrating to FM because the demographics are better. And the big thing is you listen to AM radio, you’re listening like twenty two minutes, an hour of commercials, whereas you listen to a podcast and you’re listening to maybe two minutes, an hour of commercials and people don’t really like listening to commercials. I know that’s a big shocker, but that’s not what they’re tuned in for. So I think AM Radio could have a problem because I don’t think there’s any one person that can fill Rush’s time slot or his role. I think you’ll see different syndication companies now rushing different options into the marketplace to try to find something. But the truth is, as you mentioned, a lot of these guys are just not that talented. They’re not people. You don’t need to listen to, Sean. Handy to know what he’s going to say to you every day, you don’t need to listen to Mark Levin unless you want a headache. You know, I pick on him, but mostly because when I’ve had to listen to his show, I have to pull my earbuds out a little bit because, you know, screaming and ranting. So I don’t know that there’s a guy. Rush was what they called a ratings tentpole. People would turn on the radio early to hear his show and catch the show before him, and they keep it on after he was done. And so he was catalyzing ratings and revenue for entire stations. And without him, it’s going to be a real reckoning. So I think the content is going to be there. I think, you know, you’re not going to see conservative media collapse or anything like it. And he has spawned a generation, you know, below him that that is doing very well. But I think that that the world that Rush made is going to maybe have a different delivery mechanism. And it’s not just going to be political commentators. You know, you listen to Joe Rogan and there’s echoes of early rush there, you know, is clearly a culturally conservative perspective, while simultaneously not always being political, not always being focused on politics, maybe even not mostly focused on high politics. And, you know, everyone from Rogen to Ben Shapiro has been influenced by Rush, and that’s not going anywhere. But I do think that the maybe AM radio is in real big trouble now.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Man, how else do I get my traffic and weather on the five states or threes?

S2: So we’re sitting here in Philadelphia. We’re supposed to get storm tomorrow. It used to be when I was a kid, you were glued to your radio to hear your snow. No, to see if you were getting a day off like that. The things that you that we used to rely on AM radio for so heavily are kind of gone. And unless you get companies that come along that want to invest in it and make it local again so that you have some of that kind of community impact and that’s expensive. And these companies are debt laden and don’t really want expensive, then I think AM radio is really in trouble. It might end up where many years from now we say ham radio, the print newspaper, you know, the Betamax, the VHS.

S1: I’ll give you the I’ll give you another one. Snoad Snow days in school. I think that would go away.

S2: Well, you don’t even get a snow day anymore. Forget needing it. No, I think that this could be the end of AM radio. And politically, let’s be honest, he has paved this pathway for this far right kind of warfare politics party, and that’s going nowhere. But you ask, have these politicians and all they’re worried about is the next primary. And the people who vote in primaries are the people who are consuming the media landscape that was created by Rush Limbaugh. And so that impact is going to reverberate for decades.

S1: Brian Rosenwald is a media historian who talks about the intersection of policy, communications and American history at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of Talk Radio Is America How an Industry Took Over a Political Party that Took Over the United States. Brian, thanks so much.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Mike, it’s always great to be with you.

S1: And that’s it for Today Show, just producer Shayna Roths go to was never Rush. But let me tell you a Jim Bohannan overnight. She likes Margaret Kelly, also not a giant Rush fan, but that is when he was on in the morning and they said the time because, you know, that’s when you listen to the radio for to learn the time. You know what they do? They always play a duck. Quacking sound effect when like this six a.m. in New York, quack, quack and some hilarious stuff. Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate podcasts. She is also an expert. She has learned so much about gut bacteria from Michael Savage, those she suspects that might not be his real name. But then again, that is Linda Wertheimer. Total Sutent, the gist. If nothing else, Rush Limbaugh inspired one funny bit of radio. When he got really popular, all his listeners would call in and say dittos and mega dittos. So at the same time, Howard Stern mocked him by having all his listeners call in and say, dildoes, mega dildoes, radio, and then 1990s and exalted medium and poor Adepero. And thanks for listening.