RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, indulge me for just a few minutes here. We all here at the EIB Network are experiencing a huge void in all of our hearts here today because of a death, one of our staff members, the very first staff member to join me 27 years ago in New York. Christopher Carson, “Kit,” my trusted chief of staff, aide-de-camp, passed away today at 8 a.m. at his home in New Jersey after what really was a four-year battle, really valiant, never-seen-anything-like-it battle with essentially brain cancer. He thought that it was beaten back two years ago, but it came back again last fall with a vengeance.
To give you an idea, December 19th, staff Christmas party, and he was fine, normal as anybody ever remembered him. Ten days ago I flew to New York to see him in the hospital, and it was the last day that he had any kind of a short-term memory at all. It was a good visit. It was a really good day. For him, too. I’ve always said that I wanted to be older, and I never factored something in about getting older, and that is people you know getting sick and dying. But Kit was in all ways, every way I can of think of, a special human being and person.
When the program debuted in 1988, nobody had any idea if it was gonna work. And we had made no plans initially for it to get big. It was just a radio show with a guy doing three hours on the radio and the itinerant things that happened. But it took off. It took off faster and bigger than anybody had planned. So the phone started ringing and mail started coming in, and things needed to be dealt with.
We didn’t have anybody, and Ed McLaughlin, who was the syndicator of the program at the time and the founding executive of the EIB Network, had just come from ABC and knew countless people at ABC. And in our building where we were at the time, ABC staffed its magazines, such as Prairie Farmer magazine and American Homeowner, Contemporary Homeowner or something. And Ed said, “Look, I got this guy that’s gonna come up from the magazine, and he’s gonna answer the phones and deal with the mail. He’s a good guy. He’s here in New York. He’s trying to become an actor, and he’ll help us out here in a pinch.”
I said, “Oh, okay, great, what’s his name?”
He said, “Some guy, Kit Carson.”
I said, “Kit Carson? Kit Carson, like the cowboy?”
“Yeah, that’s what he says, Kit Carson.”
Okay. So the next day in walks this guy, cargo shorts, white ankle socks, black Keds, and red hair that looks like it’s got yeast in it piled so high on top of his head. I was immediately jealous, I said, “What did you do, put yeast in your hair?” He didn’t know what I meant. But I spotted it immediately. He wanted to be an actor, he had a performer’s ego, and he thought I was crazy. After one radio show, he thought I was crazy.
He’s listening to “homeless updates” and all this stuff and he just thinks that I’m a lunatic. But he’s gonna stick with it ’cause it looks like it could be fun for a while. And he said, “What do you want me to do?”
I said, “Well, when it comes to the phones …” And I did my best to explain who I was, what I did, and what we’re all trying to accomplish, and he just said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, the latest to get to New York, gonna hit it big, right, right, okay, got it, got it. What can I do?”
I said, “Well, when you’re answering the phones, I want you to really learn how to do something, and I really want you to learn how to do it, and it’s say, ‘No.’ You’re gonna have people calling wanting me to do this, do that, requests for all kinds of things, and I don’t care what and I don’t care who, your first answer is ‘no’ and then you come tell me and we’ll review who called and then we’ll decide what to do.” It’s harder than you think, folks. It’s easy to say “yes” to people and make friends, have a good relationship.
Saying “no” to people does not promote good friendships right off the bat. He said “no.” He loved saying “no.” He said, “Really, I have the power to say “no” to anybody?” I said, “Yes, you do.” He started answering mail. Anyway, it just evolved to where he became the resident expert on me and the program. He became its number-one champion, defender, evangelist, and, of course, he ended up doing much more than — well, he never stopped saying “no.” That job remained as important 27 years later as it was that first day. He enjoyed it as much as ever, except the people calling later on were like from the White House and Good Morning America and the Today Show, and he still said “no” and then came and told me about it.
Fifty-six years old. He arrived around age 30 or 31, grew up in Milwaukee. He was insistent, you know, when he introduced himself to people, “Yeah, I’m Kit Carson,” and he assumed everybody thought that meant he’d be related to the famous cowboy character, Kit Carson, so he told everyone, “Yeah, my name is really Kit Carson.”
So the first time I had to write him a check, forget what it was for, I made it out to Kit Carson. He brought it back and said, “The bank won’t accept it.”
I said, “Why?”
He said, “‘Cause this isn’t my name.”
I said, “What, you’ve been telling me for two years –”
“It’s Christopher.” Okay. So I rewrote the check, but he always remained “Kit.” He was Kit to everybody that knew him. He was Kit to his family. He was Kit, dad to his teenaged sons, Jesse and Jack, wife Theresa. It’s such a void because he loved this job. He loved being here. He loved being part of it every day.
Folks, the last four years of his life, I kid you not, for the vast majority of ’em he would get up early to do the show prep he had been assigned. When the Internet came, he and Snerdley were assigned various areas of the Internet to help me with show prep, and he had his, and he was gonna do ’em no matter what. No matter how many times we tried to tell him, “Forget it, just head to the hospital and get your treatment.” It was just incredible to see. He would show up as often as he could these last four years, even if only for a half hour. He would try to get his cancer treatments moved to different times of the day so he wouldn’t have to miss. All the while we’re telling him, “Hey, put yourself first here.”
He said, “I am. I love this.”
He loved everybody here, and everybody loved him. We’ve all heard people remembered by having it said about them that they never heard the guy say a bad word about anybody. How many times have you heard that in eulogy? Well, Kit Carson, honest to God, never, ever had a bad word to say about anybody. Kit Carson never, never had a critical thing to say about anybody he dealt with, anybody else on the staff. He did not engage in back-stabbing. He did not ever, not a single time, try to undermine anybody else on the staff for his benefit. And you know that’s common in office settings, but he never did it.
He’s the guy in the office who had everybody’s back. In fact, when I got mad at people, either on the staff or anybody, he’s the first guy trying to talk me out of it. “No, no, you’re misunderstanding. Don’t get mad.” He’s not the kind of guy that relished in other people being in the dock, or people being in trouble, it bothered him. And any time I got mad at anybody he defended ’em. It was always my fault for getting mad. Remember, he’s the chief of staff. It was always my fault for getting mad, not their fault. No matter what, no matter who. Well, there were exceptions. I mean, we haven’t had that many people do egregious things, and we’ve only had in the 27 years two or three people leave the program. So we’ve been fortunate to avoid a lot of this typical interoffice stuff, but Kit obviously was employee badge one. Well, I guess I am badge one, he’s number two. He’s been here longer than anybody.
He wanted to be an actor, but he ended up enjoying what he was doing here so much. He would still hang around with his actor buddies and friends, but he became one hundred percent totally devoted to the program. And, folks, he was such a patriot. He loved this country so much. He started out not caring. I mean, not “not caring,” but the first thing on his mind was not what’s happening in politics every day or what’s happening in Washington. But he came to care about it as much as any of us, and he came to be as concerned, especially when his children were born, he came to be as concerned about it as any of the rest of us are, and it’s what inspired him and motivated him every day to make sure that when it was his Stack of show prep stuff, that it was right, that I had it right.
He always put his comments in the margins, you know, what he thought of things. And there were times he thought of things I didn’t. And I stole ’em. I stole his opinions sometimes. Sometimes I gave him credit. But he always knew that what was important to me, the show’s the thing, and it always was with him. Whenever I had to go anywhere, say a Rush to Excellence Tour, he always went, in some cases early to advance it, but he always accompanied me. And, you know, I didn’t like those things much. I never really did. They were things that were necessary to be done. And he said, “You’re crazy! It’s the greatest job in the world. You’re gonna show up and 5,000 people can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Do you realize how many people would love that?”
He did not allow me to be pessimistic or negative. He didn’t allow me to get down in the dumps about anything. And if he sensed that I was, he would do anything that he could that enabled me to get the best out of myself, even if it was just a social soiree that we were at or some business trip. I was thinking about it last night. I can’t remember a time when he complained about things. You know how often people complain? Oh, my God. People complain all the time. People manipulate, try to manipulate you all the time. That’s nothing unique to me.
He never did. Never. Never did. Never undermined anybody. Never wanted me to think ill of anybody that had anything to do with this program. A special passion of his was the leukemia radiothon that we did every year. He devoted as much time to putting that together and working with the leukemiathon people throughout the year and things like that. He built and maintained relationships that the program had with any number of people, sponsors, you name it, and maintained them. He spoke for me when I was unable to. And I have to say this, too. He is the one guy — this is not meant to besmirch anybody else, but I never once doubted his instincts.
I had total trust. I never once thought, for example, when he’s advocating that I do something, I never once thought that there was something in it for him, for me to do it, that it would help him with somebody that was asking me to do it or a friend of his, I never, ever, got the impression. The only thing he cared about was doing what he could to make sure I looked good and be the best I could be.
He had this innocent, even at age 56, this innocent exuberance about everything. And it wasn’t just me. He trusted everybody. I mean, even the people he knew that he shouldn’t, he did. Everybody got the benefit of the doubt. You had to really earn his distrust because he trusted you right off the bat. Complete and total trust in the guy. Everything he told me, everything I asked him to give me a report on or do or whatever it was, I never had any suspicions that he was trying to get me to do things or to say things or whatever that would benefit him with other people.
Anyway, I have to take a break here, folks. There’s just a little more here, but I wish all of you could have — many of you around the course of the country and various parts have probably met him, and, if you did, you know exactly the kind of person and personality I’m talking about. I wish everybody could have met him.
RUSH: I just got a note that reminded me of something. When Kit was undergoing his cancer treatments, he held onto his hair longer than most people do, and he loved to go walking down 60th Avenue in New York and the Japanese tourists would think he’s Conan O’Brien. The point is, he found the good in everything, and he was always optimistic and upbeat. I’ll tell you, the happiest I can remember him — outside of, you know, the birth of his kids — is when he met his soon-to-be-wife Theresa. It was like a kid and a candy store forever, and when they finally got married, they got married in Boston.
I remember I flew up for the wedding, and I landed there. The car is taking me, and Snerdley is walking to the venue. I asked him, “What, did you come from the train station or something?” So I stopped, and Snerdley got in the car. We drove to the wedding, and Kit just couldn’t believe it. Honestly, this was so sentimentally the truth. He could not believe that he had actually convinced this woman to marry him — and he never stopped looking at her that way. It was really special. It was a fairytale. Exactly like a fairytale. When the preacher made it official and pronounced them man and wife, he turned to the audience and started jumping up and down doing fist pumps and started shouting, “Yeah! Yeah! Did you hear? She said, ‘Yes!'” or something. it was just … I don’t know.
He loved life so much, and it was cut short.
RUSH: Just a few more comments about the late Kit Carson, our chief of staff here who passed away. He’d been with us, with me, longer than anybody else on this program. He passed away this morning at 8 a.m. from brain cancer, and I want to talk a little bit about something. He taught everybody incredible lessons in toughness and fortitude in the way he fought it. I’ve seen a lot of people go through what Kit went through.
But honest to God, folks, I’ve never seen anybody deal with it the way he did, and I’ve seen some heroics. But I want to go back to something. I checked the e-mail during the break. “What’s so big about saying ‘no’ to everybody?” somebody wants to know. Folks, I… (sigh) Look, I don’t want to make this too personal, ’cause this isn’t about me, but you don’t know… (sigh) I don’t know how to say this, ’cause this is not complaining. I, believe me, have nothing to complain about.
But when I say that I was able to totally trust Kit with virtually anything he came to me with, any proposals that somebody else had, any request that somebody else had, one of the things I had to learn… I’d never been on a success track before, ’til this program. I didn’t know what it was like. And you wouldn’t believe the number of phonies you come in contact with who portray themselves as your best friend. And all they want to do is manipulate you into doing things they want you to do.
Either just parade you around so they can look like hot stuff or get you to do something they couldn’t get done for themselves, all the while telling you — me — that it’s for my benefit. He never, ever, did that — and he sniffed that out in other people and never, ever, did it himself. I can’t tell you, for me, that was important. Maybe other people in my position, they don’t care about it. But, to me, I hated having my intelligence insulted. I hated being used. I hated thinking that people were trying to manipulate me.
When I thought it, they were gone. That was the end of ’em. I had no more time for it. And I never, ever, once had any doubts about Kit and his intentions in that regard. So saying, “no,” that’s how you weeded people out. It became a policy of mine. A, I don’t like to do a bunch of outside stuff anyway. The show’s the thing. I don’t need to go somewhere to say what I say. I have a radio show to say it. Why go somewhere else and say it?
But the point is I had entire, complete, total trust, and never once doubted his motivations for things. Sometimes he suggested I do things, thought they’d be good for me and so forth. Anyway, that’s why saying “no” was important. ‘Cause it’s easy to say “yes” and befriend somebody, particularly if they’re a powerful person on the other end of the phone. It’s the easiest thing in the world to say, “Yeah,” and become their friend, become a good friend. “Yeah, I can get Rush to do that.”
He never did that, folks, and that was big. But the way he fought this disease, it was just terrible to watch it. But it was also inspiring. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating. The e-mails that we would get when he was in the midst of the worst treatment — the chemo, the radiation, whatever — he scheduled as much of it as outpatient as he could, much more than he should have. Because he didn’t want to let anybody down.
The last time I was able to talk to him meaningfully was a couple of Wednesdays ago in his hospital room. His short-term memory was mostly gone. But he remembered the magazine that he came from 27 years ago. He remembered all the stories we were reminiscing about over the years. But what had happened in the last couple hours, couple days, were tough. But, at one point, Jack and Jesse, his kids were there, and Theresa and I.
I grabbed his hand and I held his hand, and I said, “Let me tell you something: There’s nobody who can replace you. There’s nobody who can do what you do.” He looked at me, and I don’t know how much there he was at that given moment. Brain cancer is a horrible thing. But he looked at me and said, “That’s not true.” I said, “Oh, yes, it is.” And I kept squeezing his hand, letting him know that it was true, and I wasn’t just saying it.
And it is, because of the trust.
So he was just insistent on getting his portion of the show prep in. He was. He asked permission… I mean, I never got over it: He asked permission to go get his next cancer treatment, and if we had said, “Well, that’s gonna be really tough,” he would call the hospital, the doctors, and try to move it. Now, we never did. Don’t misunderstand. But 27 years, and even in the fight for his life, he’s putting our concerns ahead of his.
We had to insist with him a number of times, “Look, just take care of yourself. We all know the story here. Just go take care of yourself,” which he did. But it still was… Folks, one time, when he was in the hospital for treatment, he learned how… I still don’t know how he did it, because he could barely use a computer. But he figured out in the midst of all this, ’cause he had lost the ability to type for a while, the dexterity.
He learned how to set up Dragon Dictate and he learned how to dictate things and e-mail them off. I went to the hospital to visit him at that point and saw the setup, and I said, “You could not have… How did you do this?” He said, “I don’t know, I don’t know, but it had to be done.” I’m looking at it, and I said, “This is not possible.” I wouldn’t have known how to do it the way he did it. Now, he may have had some outside help.
But he was so insistent on whatever all this was not harming the show or me, that he did everything he could. And it was just amazing to watch. And it was instructive to watch the success and then the failure of all of the various treatments. You could see the signs. I mean, the first time the brain tumor was zapped with radiation, it was phenomenal. Within three days… I mean, one day in the hospital you would walk in and say “hi” and he’d know who you are.
And five minutes later, not know who you are, and 10 minutes later not remember you’d been there awhile. After the first time that tumor got zapped, all that was gone, and he was back to being perfectly normal. It was amazing to watch the effectiveness of the treatments, but then everybody says when it comes back the second time after you think you’ve been in remission, it’s really bad — trouble. And it was. And he ended up succumbing to it at 8 o’clock this morning.
But he never, ever, gave up on it. All he ever wanted to do was see his kids graduate from high school. Jack and Jesse. But the exuberance, yeah. I remember one year. Occasionally we here get a suite at the Super Bowl to entertain clients and others, and one Super Bowl that we went to we took Kit. He went to this one. It was the Steelers and Packers. The Packers was his team. He loved the Packers. He grew up in Wisconsin. This is just five years ago, whenever that Super Bowl was. So he’s been with the radio program 22 years.
The game started, and he was sitting in the suite after doing some of the work involved with the dinners that we had the weekend prior to the game. He’s sitting there watching the game, and I get up from my seat to go to bathroom or something, and he’s sitting there and he stands up and hugs me. “Rush, this is just great! This is just great! I can’t believe this! I’m having such a great time! My God, the Packers and I’m here at the Super Bowl? This is so great!”
He was always appreciative. He was always very much aware of how special things were. I mean, to him, the special things stayed special. There was never anything taken for granted. But to have that kind of exuberance after all this time? I mean, a lot of people after 22 years become jaundiced. “You mean I gotta go work the damn Super Bowl? Come on, Rush. Can’t somebody else do it?” Never. He would be the first one there, whatever needed to be done, and he was able to turn it into a pleasurable thing.
But standing up and hugging me, and telling me how great it was to be there to see his Packers against my Steelers in the Super Bowl, was something he never thought he’d be able to do. And he’s just gonna be really missed. Everybody here is… Even though we’ve known this was coming for a few weeks, still, it leaves a huge void in everybody’s heart. ‘Cause whenever he was on the other end of something you knew there was going to be a laugh or a joke or a smile.
And I’m not trying to sound cliched. It was really true.
You knew you were talking to somebody who actively loved being alive.
He had great respect for being alive, did not take that for granted.
He loved his job, he loved the country, loved his kids and his wife Theresa so much.
It’s the one bad thing about getting old, is your friends start… They get old, too. Anyway, thank you for indulging me on this. I haven’t even begun to do him justice, folks. But I wanted to share with you a little of who he was, because he was such an integral part of this program every day. Even though you never heard him, and even though many might not have known who he was or what he did other than hearing me call him chief of staff, he was irreplaceable. And it’s just a very, very sad, unfortunate thing that happens to everybody.
The way he dealt with it was a lesson in and of itself.
RUSH: Kathryn has been spending a lot of time with Kit’s family the past couple weeks. She had a great idea, Snerdley. I don’t know if she mentioned this to you or not. She thinks we ought to put a chair in there and up in New York that’s called the “Kit Chair,” the honorary Kit Chair. He’s always gonna be there, that chair is always gonna be for him, always gonna be where he sat. So we’re gonna do that, ’cause it is a great idea. He walked in the room wearing those cargo shorts and the short white socks and the black Keds. He didn’t care if you were laughing at him, didn’t matter. He made everybody laugh.
RUSH: My gosh, I feel kind of guilty here. I really feel like we should be doing all three hours talking about Kit. He’d think that’s nonsense. If you’re just joining us, a staff member that has been with me longer than anybody else, the chief of staff, we jokingly called him H.R. The reason his nickname was H.R., by the way, was after H.R. Haldeman, who was Nixon’s chief of staff. He said “no” to everybody, and that’s why we called him — in fact, Kit came up with the name for himself, H.R.
He passed away this morning at 8 a.m. at age 56.
I spent much of the first hour doing the remembrances, but it’s such a huge void here. I feel like I’m just doing the program today here on half-mast, half scan, half attention, what have you. It’s just an empty feeling. Even though it’s not unexpected, sadly, it’s still hard to accept. But, anyway, forge on we must, and he would have insisted, obviously. But it just feels weird. A part of me thinks I shouldn’t even be here today, but that’s silly.
RUSH: God bless Kit Carson, his wife Theresa, and his sons Jack and Jesse.
See you tomorrow.