Inspection- The House Rush and the Right Built

by Ken Carman

Listening to all the hubbub lately over Limbaugh’s comments I can’t help but have mixed feelings. What he said: hour after hour of rancid slander about one woman, was disgusting. Yet, I can’t help but feel that our politicians and, yes, we the public, have let him and the Right build this insane rhetorical whore house featuring a huge stable of hate-based crazies. Now we complain when once again proves how good he is at going over the top of his last over the top offensive statement?

If hate talk were an actual legit sport this guy would be a pole vault star. But here’s a better analogy…

Imagine a man comes into town and builds a whore house: defined in this case as “whoring himself out, and any friends who wish to join him by saying anything to get attention for the sake of making massive amounts of money.” Few rational folks really want the whore house there, but, hey, what the hell… in the interest of toleration and diversity, “Let him build it, no one will listen.”

Yeah, “right.”

But, I understand: this is a free speech issue; as rancid as that “free” speech may be.

The rhetorical whore house becomes very popular, but instead of spending the money necessary to compete with it and the very popular businesses that serve it, been built around it, we just sit around and bitch about it. We don’t necessarily have to build our own rhetorical whore house. We could spend the money, and have plenty of patience: just like Rush’s stations and advertisers did, and build a more sensible, yet appealing, house right next to it: the key being we have to be more dedicated, more deterimed and have more “stick-to-it-tive-ness” than Rush and his rancid band of talkers do. But, no, mostly we just sit around and bitch about it.

Oh, there have been weak attempts: ieAmerica, Air America. But neither came close to matching the money, the dedication and the determination the Right and Rush showed after Nixon was toppled to build a house and install him as master of ceremonies… or perhaps a cross dressed mistress of the house: Rush Limbaugh.

Ah, an image that might make more than a few chuckle, eh?

Now this rhetorical whore house is huge. It dominates the stage, a stage called National Political and Social Discourse. A rhetorical whore house we: the public in general, like minded businesses and politicians, allowed to be built with little to no competition. We also let it become so big, so popular, by just sitting around and bitching about it… by not supporting the few efforts to compete with it… by acting as if people will come to their senses then it will go away.

“We hear nothing! Nothing! Oh, damn, we heard that. (Bitch, moan, bitch, moan, then back to…) “We hear nothing! Nothing!”

As bad all the current noise is regarding Ms. Fluke, if you think this is the end of Rush: think again. Rush has a history of these type of comments. Indeed he has an Obi-Wan “history” when it comes to these kind of comments, as in: “Attempt to strike me down and I will become stronger than you can imagine.”

And we aren’t even striking him “down.” This isn’t even a game of Whack-a-mole. He’ll keep coming back, probably up the same old holes. We whack and he eventually comes back bigger, stronger. Why? If for no other reason his audience is dominated by the most petulant, childish, portion of the extreme Right, whose idea of “discourse” is “anything that pisses off the Left must be good.”

Here’s another reason this game of Whack-a-Mole won’t work: I’ve heard many of his advertisers are merely suspending their support… for now. But, let’s say they don’t come back. Are you really interested in making sure companies that also support fledgling attempts to compete, like The Stephanie Miller Show, never advertise on talk radio again?

Rush will supposedly be “proven right” again because Rush can stand to lose advertiser and keep going. With the amount of money, and mindless: love anything that annoys the Left, popularity, you’re only feeding what attracts more ad makers: listeners, ratings. “Proven right” in the sense that struggling talkers on the Left can’t lose the ad makers like Rush can and keep going: ad makers who advertise on both sides of the partisan aisle. Ad makers lost because they determine that talk radio is too risky a venue.

You’re not really punishing Rush: there are lots of ad makers out there. You’re punishing the ad makers; teaching them to avoid all talk radio. It’s like burning down our few meek attempts at building a house of competition just so we can attempt to throw a rock through one of Rush’s plexiglass windows. In the long run, it will just bounce back. We are the Coyote in this analogy. Boycotts and beating down ad makers is like buying a trap from ACME.

The foundations for Rush’s house were set down, not just during Nixon’s time, or by Nixon, as Robert Parry suggested in his recent column, but also when the fairness doctrine was gutted and the Left didn’t keep raising hell, or keep demanding something like it be put back into our regulations. Another cornerstone was set when two employees sued FOX because their employer was insisting they lie, on air, to the public. The court agreed with… the employer. Forcing employees to tell lies or be fired is supposedly just some grand business plan, no matter what damage it may cause to how people perceive the news, treat each other, or society.

All this time the Right investing big chunks of money in a huge propaganda machine, even down at the most basic level…

As a Communications major I returned for a visit in the 80s and I remember my professors telling me their classes were filled with students who went to college for free on Right Wing scholarships, having signed contracts they would only work for those who helped build the scholarship fund. I remember Dr. English telling me these students sat stone faced, took the tests, but rarely participated… except to mock concepts like “objective journalism.” Many of them came out of fundamentalistic religious schools.

Meanwhile Rush was convincing stations to buy and hold on until the public got used to the rawness of his style of programming. And what were we doing?

“We hear nothing! Nothing! Oh, damn, we heard that. (Bitch, moan, bitch, moan, then back to…) “We hear nothing! Nothing!”

In the end, success is success, true. Yes, I do believe in free speech, though I also believe our slander and libel laws need some dusting off… and an application of some spinach like substance that would make those willing to take him on, take him on a Popeye-like way… attempting to legally counter some of Rush’s slander-based brutish Bluto-ness.

And Rush is very much like Bluto: callous, crass and with an ego so bloated his weight seems paper edge thin in comparison. Everything is always about Rush. The Hindenburg didn’t burn, it simply floated over to the phony EIB “network.” As an on air personality myself for a number of years, there’s no “excellence” to EIB. Technically there’s more dead and and flubs than any professional, large multi-market, program I have ever heard.

But we’re still missing an important part of the discussion. The part where we bitch but do little. We need to talk about the nature of the house that Rush built and how we should compete with it. If we’re not replacing the fairness doctrine with something better…. not a bad idea but probably will never happen… or going after them legally after dusting off libel and slander laws… an idea that could easily backfire big time… if we’re not doing any of that, unless we want to perpetually be their bitch: we need to do exactly what they did, only better.

And I do think we need the good guy, bionic, version: build it better, stronger and with less evil. For the House that Rush and the Right built is one where over the top lies are encouraged, where slander is cheered: libel but an extremely popular brand name. Real whore houses usually have an interest in the health of their employees and not spreading social diseases. The house that Rush and the Right built wants the government to have AIDS until it’s so weak it can be drowned in a bathtub, and their clients brains infected with what has become extreme Right Wing syphilis-like theology. They do offer a “cure:” and their patrons keep coming back for a “cure” that only makes it worse.

Here is how bad it’s gotten: like him, or not, Ed Schultz is pretty much one of the biggest; if not the biggest, talker we have now on radio. One day Ed called Laura Ingraham a talk-slut. He didn’t go on for days with various forms of slander and libel. And the modifier “talk” makes what Ed said at least a little different compared to hour upon hour of actual insinuations about the character of one woman. No, Rush, that was not “satire” in any sense, despite your constant cowardly cowering behind a banner that reads “comedy.”

Ed gets a week suspension. Rush goes on while being cheered and defended by some of his base. Yes, ad makers pulled out, but like any young man who “pulls out” when caught visiting the House that Rush and the Right built, I’m sure they’ll eagerly put it right back in as soon as they figure they can sneak back.

Yes, the attack on advertisers can get non-apology apologies, but that’s about the limit, and it can become a nuclear boomerang when it comes to our less well funded talkers.

Like it, or not, all this says something about the power of the House that Rush and the Right built. As Jon Stewart said, meanwhile, Eric Holder was testifying for destroying due process by claiming “due process” doesn’t mean “judicial process.” A comment folks on the Right and the Left should have been comparing to “destroy the village to save it.”

Instead we’re all talking about what the head mistress of rhetorical whoredom said: increasing his street cred with his base?

In the long run I see nothing coming out of this kerfuffle, except Rush has created a controversy that will, once again, knight the Master of the House Rush Built king of talk radio. We can attempt to take him down… dubious at best, even if possible, or do what we should have done 30 years ago.

…do whatever it takes to build our own damn house.

We can at least start by supporting the few tents staked out around the huge House that Rush and the Right Built, by the Left. Tents inhabited by the likes Malloy, Hartmann, Miller, Schultz or even Link, Gore’s Current TV.

And I’ll say: “It’s about damn time.”

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Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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