Rush Limbaugh

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RUSH: There’s a guy that’s written a book on talk radio. There have been a lot of people who have written books on talk radio, and none of them gets it! I’ve even talked to a couple of ’em! It amazes me that this guy’s focus on talk radio happens to be me and this program. I did not talk to this guy. I don’t know who he is, before I ran into these sound bites. But it is interesting to me, nevertheless, that all of the books about talk radio, how many of them totally miss either the history of the modern era…

Which began with this show in August of 1988, and then what has happened since then. But this guy kind of gets it. His name is Brian Rosenwald. He was on CNN Saturday. So nobody saw this, which is why I want to share the sound bites with you. Michael Smerconish was talking to him about his new book Talk Radio’s America, and Smerconish says, “You say it wasn’t the escalator ride that began the Trump candidacy. It was actually August 1, 1988, that began the Trump candidacy. How come?”

ROSENWALD: That’s the day Rush Limbaugh takes his act national, and it’s a great show and people tune in, and they start this habit — forming this habit — of listening to talk radio, and then later cable news. And what they hear every day is calls for fighters. You know, it doesn’t make for good radio to say, “Hey, nuance, compromise. “That — that stuff’s boring. But fighting, that — that’s good radio, and Donald Trump captured that ethos.

RUSH: So this guy is claiming that this program is what effectively set the stage, laid the groundwork for Trump to come in. Now, many people think that talk radio is combative and is filled with attack this and attack that. As I have pointed out I don’t know how many times, this program is actually nuanced. There is more policy nuance on this program than you’ll find on NPR or that you’ll find in the New York Times, and the reason for that is that we look at both sides of everything.

I do a better job of explaining what liberals believe and what their policies will mean than they do. They, of course, on their programming, totally ignore the substance that we are. We’re just racists or white supremacists or bigots. Their mission with us is to discredit us and discard us. You who listen to this program know more about American liberalism and the American left than people that do not listen to this program. As far as this attack business going, I’ve always said, “I don’t attack anybody. I’m minding my own business.

“I get up every day and I look at the things that I believe in — the institutions, traditions, people that I believe in — under assault every day, and I defend them!” Now, some people think defending things is an attack, but I’m telling you, it isn’t! If they left us alone? If they left us alone and they weren’t lying about us, mischaracterizing us and so forth, there wouldn’t be any attacks here. There would be explanations of who they are, which they do consider to be an attack. Next question: “Now, lest anybody think the book is a hit job on Rush, you give Limbaugh props for being a master showman and a performing virtuoso?”

ROSENWALD: He blazed a path. He created an entirely different media forum from anything that ever existed before, because he’s a great show. You know, early in his time on the air he would “abort” callers. He would play a vacuum cleaner sound effect. Uh, you would hear screams in the background as he’s hanging up on a caller. Um, these are things nobody had ever seen or heard, and people had to tune in every day ’cause they never knew what he was gonna say. He was simply giving voice to the bedrock conservative sentiments that he had grown up with and that his audience had. It wasn’t like he was some sort of puppet master who, you know, directed his audience to believe things. His audience already believed them.

RUSH: This guy gets it. I’ve… This guy gets it more than anybody that I’ve ever encountered writing either about talk radio in general or about this program. Do we have time for one more? Yeah, there’s one more. May as well stick with it. Next question: “There’s this mind-set out there that the whole talk landscape was controlled by individuals eager to spread conservative wisdom. In the book, that’s not the conclusion you reach.”

ROSENWALD: The motivation — as Rush always said — was “to charge confiscatory advertising rates,” which means how can we make the most money. What’s the best, most engaging show that we can put on every single day? And that didn’t always work with what Republicans wanted to do. At times, Republicans would say, “Hey, this is the best deal we can cut,” and talk radio would say, “No, stand up and fight for us! You know, fight for our values. They’re rolling over again, for the mainstream media, for Democrats. That’s all they do, they just roll over,” and that’s the sentiment that helps, you know, give us Donald Trump.

RUSH: That’s Brian Rosenwald is his name. The name of his book is Talk Radio’s America. I’m not trying to endorse it. I’ve been holding the sound bites here all week. It just didn’t seem appropriate to play them in the aftermath of the shooting and so forth. But now the time permitted itself. I just have to say that he’s got — speaking of nuance — a more nuanced understanding, and, actually, he’s a good listener. I’ve not been secretive about what the purpose of this program is. He just happened to hear it and believe it.

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