I do not consider myself particularly naive when it comes to politics or the media, but this piece by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic really took me aback. It’s not that I ever put much stock in Rush Limbaugh – actually I never put any stock in him – but this is a level of cynicism that is shocking.
Friedersdorf listened to last Monday’s broadcast of Limbaugh’s radio show in which the host explained why “conservatives” would not be rallying behind New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the bridge scandal the way they backed Clarence Thomas in his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Limbaugh acknowledged knowing little about Thomas – let alone the facts in the sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill – but he was sure of one thing. Thomas was a conservative and his attackers liberal.
Christie, apparently, is insufficiently conservative. Friedersdorf quotes Limbaugh as saying:
I’m trying to make the point that over there in the RINO Club, the Republican establishment … there’s not an ideology. There’s not a belief system.
Now, if there were a fervent ideological foundation, if there was a substantive reason of believing in Governor Christie, then whether he lied wouldn’t matter. They’d be out there defending him left and right just to make sure the Democrats don’t get away with this.
I do not know if Limbaugh considers himself to be a journalist but, really – “whether he lied wouldn’t matter?” It’s easy to dismiss Limbaugh as a loud-mouthed clown, but he has a significant part in setting the agenda for one of our two national parties. I know intelligent people who believe what they read or hear in the right-wing media despite any – you know, facts – to back up their belief system. I wonder if they will start to question their reliance on charlatans like Limbaugh.