Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One
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People tend to remember the moment they first heard The Rush Limbaugh Show on the radio. For Zev Chafets, it was in a car in Detroit, driving down Woodward Avenue. Limbaugh's braggadocio, the outrageous satire, the slaughtering of liberal sacred cows performed with the verve of a rock-n-roll DJ-it seemed fresh, funny and completely subversive. "They're never going to let this guy stay on the air," he thought.
Almost two decades later Chafets met Rush for the first time, at Limbaugh's rarely visited "Southern Command." They spent hours together talking on the record about politics, sports, music, show business, religion and modern American history. Rush opened his home and his world, introducing Chafets to his family, closest friends, even his psychologist. The result was an acclaimed cover-story profile of Limbaugh in The New York Times Magazine.
But there was much more to say, especially after Limbaugh became Public Enemy Number One of the Obama Administration. At first Limbaugh resisted the idea of a full-length portrait, but he eventually invited Chafets back to Florida and exchanged more than a hundred emails full of his personal history, thoughts, fears and ambitions. What has emerged is an uniquely personal look at the man who is not only the most popular voice on the radio, but the leader of the conservative movement and one of the most influential figures in the Republican Party.
While Limbaugh's public persona is instantly recognizable, his background and private life are often misunderstood. Even devoted Dittoheads will find there's a lot they don't know about the self-described "harmless little fuzzball" who has, over the years, taken on the giants of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party-from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama-with "half his brain tied behind his back, just to make it fair." Chafets paints a compelling portrait of Limbaugh as a master entertainer, a public intellectual, a political force, and a fascinating man.
conspiracy?” Hell yeah. He even began peddling coffee mugs with the words emblazoned on them. Bill Clinton never came close to having as much fun with Monica Lewinsky as Rush did. CHAPTER SIX LIMBAUGH IN LIMBO In 1997 Rush Limbaugh moved to Palm Beach. He had been in New York for almost a decade, but it had never been a good match. The acceptance he sought from his peers didn’t materialize. After Clinton’s reelection, Rush was treated by the media as a has-been. It was wishful thinking—he
of the Radio Universe The Leader of the Pack Members of the media—do not panic. Your show prep will continue. Rated the number one radio personality of all time On a roll with lunch Redefining where the center really is A Weapon of Mass Instruction The Wonder of Rush America’s Anchorman They used to get away with it, but not anymore. Unfiltered and unstoppable Annoying the left from coast to coast Sometimes the cutaways are connected to current events—“insider information you can
everything they eat Every greasy bag of chips, Every single treat . . . While the song played, James Golden said, off the air, “He’s full of shit, this stuff about letting you keep your insurance.” “He’s a fucking liar,” said Limbaugh. “If I could lie like this I’d have any woman I wanted,” said Golden. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a member of the audience rose and asked if Obama supported a universal, single-payer system. “I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter because
to be popular in Washington and the Northeast Corridor. The ballots were hardly counted in New Jersey and Virginia when Limbaugh began his onslaught on these heretics by announcing his list of the “Top Ten Republican Moderate Moments,” which included George H. W. Bush’s loss to Clinton in 1992, Bob Dole’s defeat in 1996, Gerald Ford’s failure against Jimmy Carter in 1976, McCain’s loss in 2008, and Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama. “Do you see a pattern here, folks?” he said. “Every
articles it had published; and the fact that one of the spokesmen for Vietnam Veterans Against the War had later admitted lying about his service record. 8 In 2007 Air America was bought by progressive politician Mark Green and his brother Stephen. It didn’t help much. In the spring of 2008, the network’s New York station, WWRL, had a 0.5 Arbitron share of the audience, which comes pretty close to radio silence. 9 The disproportion of male consumers of talk and satire does not appear to be