RUSH: Another fascinating thing. Brian Lamb, the founder of C-SPAN, admitted on C-SPAN Sunday night Booknotes… He had an author on as a guest. The author’s name is David Bobb, B-o-b-b, and the book is Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue. In this interview Brian Lamb, who admits to being a regular listener, admits that he doesn’t get what happens here, in the sense that he doesn’t know when I’m being satirical, facetious, or funny.
Now, to me… Again, this is personal, but to me and in a business sense, this is fascinating to me, because here you have a very bright, very engaged, in touch, inside-the-Beltway figure. He’s highly respected as intelligent, impartial, everything you would want. He’s the founder of C-SPAN, has great reputation, the kind of thing Rodriguez would like to have when this thing’s all over — and he admits he listens.
He doesn’t read Media Matters to find out what happens here; he listens here. The author includes me in the people he’s talking about with the virtue of humility, and Lamb admits he doesn’t get that. “This guy says he’s the greatest thing on radio,” and the author has to tell him, “Well, you know, there’s a lot of showbiz,” and Lamb says, “I must confess I don’t know when he’s doing showbiz or when he isn’t,” which — it’s not about Brian Lamb — is fascinating to me.
Because, folks, one of the fundamental elements here of what I do is my knowledge that you get it — and that’s what makes all the rest of it fun, like when we tweak the media. You know what I’m doing. You know that I’m just trying to get a rise out of ’em, tweak ’em by saying something that might be provocative or outrageous. Brian Lamb admits he doesn’t know when that’s happened.
RUSH: Okay, here’s the Brian Lamb sound bites. I talked about this at the beginning of the hour. I admit, this is somewhat a little inside baseball. It’s fascinating to me as a broadcast professional and, you know, I do a program here, and there are classic elements to it. You know, I’ve often said that what it is that’s made this program unique. When we first hit in 1988, there wasn’t anything on the radio like it. A, there wasn’t anything nationally conservative in the media.
“Well, what is it you’re doing? What makes your show unique?”
I said, “Well, we do two things: We take serious discussion of issues, we do that, and we combine that with irreverent satire and parody and humor, and there’s credibility on both sides. The fact that I sometimes get funny does not destroy my credibility on serious issues with my audience,” and I would tell them back in the days I thought they actually cared to hear my answers to their questions, “Look, if you’re watching Nightline, Ted Koppel comes out and does a ten-minute joke monologue, you say, ‘Wait a minute.’
“It’s not gonna fit. It doesn’t make sense. Ted Koppel is a very, very, very serious guy. He doesn’t make jokes. You’d feel uncomfortable and out of place. It doesn’t fit. By the same token, if Leno, Carson, Letterman, whoever, came out and literally gave you a 10 to 15-minute serious monologue on serious issues, you’d say, ‘Wait a minute.’ Especially the studio audience would be looking around saying, ‘What are we doing here? What is this? It’s not why we’re here.’ But my program does both.” It’s what I told ’em.
And herein lies a problem for me potentially because I am leaving it up to you, the audience, to distinguish which is which. And having you in on the joke is 99% of the fun. And you know it. You know when I’m tweaking the media. You know when I’m saying something just to get a rise out of them so it’ll be talked about or they get outraged about it later that night or the next day. We have fun doing this. But Brian Lamb told this guy, “I don’t know.” And he’s a regular listener, he’s a smart guy, and he’s been around forever, as long as the program has.
So here’s the setup. He’s interviewing the author of a book. The book is called Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue. Now, that’s a fascinating title to me. It’s a fascinating premise to me, actually. Humility, one of America’s greatest virtues. The author of the book is a man by the name of David Bobb, Bobb with two B’s on the end. And I am included in this book on humility. And that’s what Brian Lamb admits here he doesn’t get. Here’s the first sound bite.
LAMB: If you look around today’s entertainment world and you apply your book on humility to the biggest successes — and one of the biggest successes in our lifetime is Rush Limbaugh. Four-hundred million dollars over eight years that he’s paid according to the reports. And he spends his whole time on the radio telling you he’s the greatest in history, that it’s the Excellence in Broadcasting Network and all that.
LAMB: And here’s a clip from one of his discussions one day about American exceptionalism. How do you explain that these kind of folks are so successful?
RUSH: Okay, now let’s stop for just a second. Here’s a guy doing a book on humility as one of America’s greatest virtues, and I’m in the book and Brian does not dislike me. Don’t misunderstand. It’s not that. But he hears talent on loan from God, and I guess he thinks I’m actually saying I’m God. Or documented to be almost always right. I guess he thinks I — so he’s confused. And he’s asking this guy to help him out, and he plays a sound bite of me talking about American exceptionalism. And this is it.
RUSH ARCHIVE: We are created with a natural yearning to be free. And it is other men and leaders throughout human history who have suppressed that and imprisoned people for seeking it. The US is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a Constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant. And that is what led to the US becoming the greatest country ever because it unleashed people to be the best they could be, unlike it had ever happened. That’s American exceptionalism. Putin doesn’t know what it is, Obama doesn’t know what it is, and it just got trashed in the New York Times.
RUSH: Now, you and I, I’ve said this before, you and I, it’s like a very large family, the familial relationship here, not familiarity, but familial, family. And you know what I mean when I talk about American exceptionalism. I’m not saying we’re better than everybody else, we’re superior because we’re here. It’s not that at all. We are the exception to the rule that most people have lived in tyranny in the world, and that most people have lived in poverty in the world, and still do, although that’s changing rapidly. We are the exception to the rule of dictatorship, tyranny, bondage, all that.
The American experiment is the exception, that’s what makes us different, that’s the exception. And I’ve always said this, and I don’t know how that becomes we’re better than everybody, because I specifically say that’s not what it is. So here’s how the author — I mean, I’m even surprised that clip was used. If your point is that I’m out there saying I’m the greatest thing in the world and never been anybody better and all that, that clip is actually talking about the greatness of the country. Anyway, here’s what the author said, and his name is David Bobb.
BOBB: What Rush Limbaugh is saying there has good truth to it, in the sense that America did put individuals front and center, but they were also individuals rooted in a community. I think that a lot of the self-promotionalism that we see, sometimes part of a persona; a lot of that that Rush offers is tongue-in-cheek. Some of it not.
LAMB: You know, it’s interesting; I’ve listened to him over the years. Who knows when he’s tongue-in-cheek?
BOBB: He’s incorporated humor very ably. And I think that’s one of the reasons why he’s been able to be on the air and so popular for so long. And some of that humor comes at his own expense. Some of it doesn’t, you know, sometimes moving back and forth between it, and sometimes being serious and sometimes very humorous. One thing he’s always serious though, about, is this claim of American exceptionalism.
RUSH: Anyway, from a strict business sense, what is fascinating to me about this is Brian Lamb is not a low-information person. He’s not dumb. He’s not ignorant. He admits to listening a lot and he doesn’t know when I’m using satire and when I’m not. Now, one thing that we do — and I don’t know whether Brian Lamb is conservative, lib, Democrat, Republican, I have no idea. I don’t care to know. That’s not my point. But the left we know has no sense of humor.
When Media Matters first started their very first week, I was all over the place. I was the lead item on their front page. And what it was was all of the things I have said about feminism over the years, and I read the list and I’d forgotten half of it, and I was laughing my butt off. I was thinking, this is the most hilarious stuff, and half of it I had forgotten I had said. It was just uproariously funny. They didn’t see any humor in it. They were literally over the top outraged and thought somebody saying those kind of things should be shut up and sent away.
I remember early on in this program thinking that 90% of the people who also heard those things would think they were funny, and that these people were a small minority, and it was a learning experience. ‘Cause when you’re talking about liberals and people on the left — I mean, the only people they got who are funny, Letterman, Jon Stewart, there’s only five or six of them that they allow to be funny. They have no sense of humor whatsoever.
RUSH: Snerdley just told me that the Brian Lamb sound bites scare him, ’cause if somebody that engaged and that smart doesn’t get it, that’s scary. To try to comfort you, Mr. Snerdley, Brian Lamb once said not long ago, and I’m paraphrasing him, he said, “I’ve been listening to both sides for so long, I don’t know what I think anymore.” Well, I mean that’s quite telling, isn’t it? He’s been in the middle. He’s been right down the middle there on C-SPAN and he’s had everybody on all side comes in and now he just has no clue what he thinks anymore. Look, again, I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what he said. There might have been a tinge of humor when he said that, but Brian Lamb doesn’t come off as a funny guy.
RUSH: Here is Lou in… what happened? Is Lou still there? Oh, gee. What was Lou gonna say? Lou, Lou, the call screener said you’d hung up, but you’re still there.
CALLER: No, I’m here, Rush.
CALLER: It’s a pleasure talking to you. You said that you counted on your listeners to get it, and we do. But I’d like to take you back to a time when I didn’t get it, when it took me 20, 25 minutes to get it, and that’s when you endorsed Bill Clinton for president.
RUSH: Oh, yeah. Well, that was supposed to take 20 minutes or so for you to get it. You know, you’re right on line there.
CALLER: Yeah, I was frustrated, angry, disappointed, heartbroken. I don’t know —
RUSH: It was amazing.
CALLER: — what words I could describe what it was. And finally, I worked myself up into a tizzy, I don’t know if that’s a Pennsylvania word, but I paced back and forth, I wrung my hands, I pulled out my hair, ’til I finally said to myself, “I could never do this.” And as soon as I said that, it was like a light, it was like an a-ha moment, I thought, “He could never do this, either.” You could never do this, and I had a big laugh, and I thought, this is satire.
RUSH: And you were right.
RUSH: You were right. You know, that was a fascinating experience. I was going nuts trying to get people to hear me about Bill Clinton. So rather than say it, I thought I would demo the kind of guy Bill Clinton was. And I basically endorsed Clinton, and took 10 minutes in doing it, and then the phone calls came in from people who were betrayed, angry, let down. Another conservative just fallen by the wayside, they were totally let down, and I denied it. “What do you mean? I didn’t endorse Clinton.”
“What do you mean, I just heard you!”
“No, you heard wrong. I couldn’t. Besides, that was in my youth. You can’t hold me accountable for things ten minutes ago.”