Rush Limbaugh died yesterday at the age of 70 from lung cancer. As should be no surprise, thoughtful, kind-hearted liberals reacted on social media with a level of hatred and vitriol not seen since…well, the last prominent conservative died.
I first started listening to Rush pretty frequently my junior year of college. I thought I'd accomplished something by constructing my fall quarter schedule in such a way that I had no classes before noon and none on Friday. What didn't occur to me until a couple of weeks later was that this meant instead of going to classes in the mornings and on Friday, that those were the times I'd be working.
My job for most of that year was washing cars at Hertz at the San Luis Obispo Airport, so I'd spend most of my time in a nearby dirt lot with a little shed with water provided via a very ordinary garden hose and power for a shop vac. (Because this was a "small" airport, this Hertz was run by a franchisee. I believe this has changed, and the lot I worked out of has long since been paved over for additional parking.)
So, if you arrived at the San Luis Obispo Airport in 1992-93 and rented a car from Hertz, it was very likely that when you got in your car and turned on the radio, it was tuned to the AM band and if it was between nine and noon on a weekday, Rush Limbaugh was the first thing you heard.
(I did often get annoyed however by how the commercial breaks always seemed backloaded to the bottom of the hour, so the last 30 minutes might be 10 of Rush and 20 of commercials, or so it seemed.)
I didn't always agree with Rush, especially these past few years as he embraced Donald Trump, another entertainer, who didn't have the character necessary to be a successful president, or even a successful adult. He called liberals names, and made them mad. Sometimes he went too far, but he was always entertaining, an accomplishment that considering his shows consisting of mainly him talking—he seldom, if ever had guests on—for three hours a day, five days a week, 40-odd weeks a year, for more than 30 years.
What's undisputed, by left and right, is that Limbaugh created talk radio and saved AM radio stations across the country. Along with the demise of the fairness doctrine, which had a stultifying effect on public discourse and effectively limited mainstream conservative thought to magazines, newsletters and other media that were not subject to Federal Communications Commission review, Limbaugh's success brought a revival to the AM band. Music had been fleeing the AM band to FM, which had better musical fidelity—something that 's not as important for the spoken word.
It should come as little surprise in the wake of Limbaugh's death that the 'drive-by' media would do its thing. Examples of the loathing the media had for him are easy to come by. Instead, I want to point out two things: First, the fact that even the "newspaper of record" can't get its facts straight.
Unlike Howard Stern, Don Imus and other big names in shock radio, Mr. Limbaugh had no on-the-air sidekicks, though he had conversations with the unheard voice of someone he called “Bo Snerdly.” Nor did he have writers, scripts or outlines, just notes and clippings from newspapers he perused daily.
The second point I'd like to make is, despite its reputation as a conservative newspaper, The Wall Street Journal's news pages are your standard left-of-center media operation. That paper's opinion page is separate. Days like yesterday make that distinction obvious.
Screenshot of the news pages story on Limbaugh's death:
It's not like there are a dearth of flattering images available of Limbaugh. When they want to, the news side can find good photos of TV and radio personalities. Here's a screenshot of the Journal's obituary for liberal talk show host Alan Colmes.
This sort of photo-choice-as-commentary that many newspapers do is cheap, obnoxious, juvenile, and all too common. Unfortunately, that's too much of your drive-by media nowadays.