NYT kicks a dying man—because he’s a right-winger

February 9, 2020 • 12:00 pm

Rush Limbaugh is dying: he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, which has a survival rate of well below 10%. I suppose it’s that diagnosis, as well as Limbaugh’s relentless promotion of Donald Trump, that prompted Trump to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on him at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Limbaugh is an odious character: a true spokeman for the real “Basket of Deplorables” who elected Trump. He’s a hatemonger, a sexist and a nativist, if not a racist, and I have no use for him. The Medal of Freedom award is a travesty and outrageous, but given the circumstances I can’t get too worked up about it.

Still, he’s married (though without kids) and there are presumably people who care about him. Can you not help feeling a bit of empathy for a man who’s been told that he almost certainly will die soon? It’s a horrible thing to learn.

Nevertheless, there are people who are using these circumstances to reiterate what a horrible man he is. One of them is Talmon Joseph Smith’s in today’s New York Times Sunday Review, who presents a bunch of pretty horrible quotes from Limbaugh over the years. Click on the screenshot:

The introduction to the quotes, which I admit are racist, sexist, and generally deplorable, is snarky, implicitly opposing Limbaugh to people considered true heroes (I guess Smith hasn’t gotten the news about Mother Teresa yet):

During his third State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Trump presented the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the longtime conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, who recently announced he has late-stage lung cancer. Past recipients of the award include Elie Wiesel, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. Mr. Trump told Mr. Limbaugh he was being recognized for “the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire.” Millions more have perhaps never listened to his popular radio program. For those who haven’t, here is a selection of his comments on various issues.

Of course all the quotes will make the hairs on your neck stand up, but note the seemingly neutral way the article is presented, though it damns Limbaugh by using his own words.

Maybe readers will disagree with me, but I think it’s a supreme example of bad taste to publish an article like this about a man who is dying. After he’s dead—sure, by all means have at him. I have no quarrel, for example, with Christopher Hitchens famously excoriating Jerry Falwell after the man’s death. But there’s something unseemly about going after a guy, and in such a snarky way, when he’s got one foot in the grave. But this is today’s New York Times, the organ of an ideology without empathy for its opponents.

Can’t they wait until he’s dead?


225 thoughts on “NYT kicks a dying man—because he’s a right-winger

  1. I have to agree with you, Jerry; he is malevolent; however, is still someone’s husband, friend, relative. I also agree that to bestow praise and honour on him is wrong and, frankly, mystifying. Perhaps his impending death was the impetus; but, that is not reason enough…

    1. I agree with Jerry too. I consider Limbaugh a monster, but I think the abuse should wait until later. People use what he does as an excuse to do the same. I hate whataboutery.

      Why can’t we be better than that? Why can’t we all just be nice to one another. Why can’t we be an example to others about the way it should be done.

      I’ve seen several family members die of lung cancer. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

      We should all learn to show a bit of empathy when someone is suffering like he undoubtedly is.

      1. Heather… this isn’t abuse. It is simply being honest about the history of the man.

        I don’t really understand how looking away from facts of history while an awful person is alive makes the world remotely better. Why would doing so makes us “better than that”?

        Recognizing the horrors of lung cancer, or any other of the miserable ways most of us die, should not mandate this kind of etiquette.

        1. I understand where people are coming from. Seeing a man like this get the Medal of Freedom has to rather stick in the craw. I just think we need to try to be better than that.

          I even understand that the NYT is all but obliged to write something about it. Perhaps they could have approached it differently though. Rather than the focus being on Rush Limbaugh, make the focus on all the dreadful people that have been honoured or pardoned by presidents. With Trump alone his pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and DInesh de Souza and potential pardoning of Roger Stone are all more signs of his lack of decency. I’m sure there have been other Medal of Freedom recipients in history that weren’t generally considered deserved too.

          One of the ways authoritarians get support is to every now and then perform small acts of kindness that their supporters can point to as examples they really are a good person. For his Cult, this act of kindness towards Limbaugh, however inappropriate, makes them feel there are reasons to stick with Trump – that he’s not the monster those evil Democrats say he is. And just look, thy’ll say, what the Democrats are doing now; they’re attacking a suffering and dying man. POV is really important when the country has been split so badly. Trump has severely exacerbated that, but they can’t see that.

          1. I think most in Trump’s Cult do see the division and like Trump’s exacerbation of it. That’s what his rallies are all about. This is also why many of the very same people liked Limbaugh. Anyone interested in the truth never signed on with Limbaugh in the first place. It’s all about pretending the world is how you would like it to be and then defending that territory with everything you can bring to bear. In giving him an award, Trump was simply honoring his predecessor and stoking the division yet again. The use of his terminal illness was just an opportunistic bit of stage dressing.

            1. I don’t think they’re pretending. They really believe. It’s hard for those of us who can see what’s really going on to imagine anyone can really believe his lies, but they do. A big part of the reason is that they’re insulated from reality for the most part. They’re in places where everyone in their church, workplace, etc. believes the same, their pastor preaches it, they get all their news from Fox and right-wing talk radio. and more. CNN sometimes goes around asking these people if they know about a particular thing that you would assume everyone knows and accepts as fact, and they have no knowledge of it. An example is what the Mueller report says about explicitly NOT exonerating Trump,

              ‘The Trump Cult’ is one of the posts I’ve been writing for a while but hasn’t made it on to my site yet.

    2. I don’t agree that the man deserves to be protected somehow. Then people will say, “It’s not good to speak ill of the dead.” Limbaugh has spewed hate and lies (I wrote about this on my own blog) tearing people down right and left for decades. His viciousness actually deserves resistance and punishment. Several have written that the best thing he could do now in life is to confess to his many prideful, selfish sins.

  2. I would not have a problem with running this memory lane of past comments by him but for the Times to print it is a bit much.

  3. I’ve had mixed feelings about this situation for a while now. One one hand, I will not encourage this kind of rude behavior and certainly wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but on the other hand, Rush generally would not and did not extend the same charity to the people he demonized, so I can see why people have little trouble excoriating him. I can’t help but feel like he deserves zero respect even though I wouldn’t necessarily celebrate his illness.

      1. Calling him out for his bigotry (and other such) is not “sinking to his level”. It is being honest, something which completely separates the action from Limbaugh-like behavior.

        One should not gain respect by virtue of impending death. If “speak no ill of someone who’s death is impending” is the rule, then we can speak no ill at all. Everyone alive has an impending death.

        1. Yes, I’m with you on this. I am sorry to hear Limbaugh has lung cancer and sympathise with him and his family about that but if he has just been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, now is the time to point out how inappropriate that is. He is being condemned merely by quoting his own odious bile and I don’t think that that is in any sense descending to his level.

    1. Agreed. He couldn’t care less for the people he insulted.

      But in this case, the Times just quoted his own words, words that he is presumably still proud of. We feel he is being insulted, but I expect he stands by every one of those quotes. I thus doubt he’d feel insulted.

      The article could have mocked him for his weight, drug addition, or weaseling out of Viet Nam. Instead, it reminded us of what Rush stands for using his own words, and I expect Rush is happy with those quotes.

    2. Everyone has someone who cares about them, and I do emphasize with them. But sparing the feelings of someone who has made a very comfortable living by acting like an over-the-top racist, misogynist, homophobe? Is waiting until after he’s dead to say what you feel “nicer”? Will his family and friends be hurt less?

      Although I can’t cite them, I do remember after Carl Sagan died, there were a few mean-spirited swipes made at him, ones I doubt would have been made while he was still living. Was that compassion or cowardice?

      What about the whole vaunted Christian idea of forgiveness and redemption? Wouldn’t this be an opportunity for *him* to say he’s sorry?

  4. I read that article. It has many similarities with the kind of journalism that starts with a headline, adds some tweets that match the headline, and then declares rhetorical victory. Common at HuffPo and Raw Story, disappointing to see at NYT.

  5. I don’t know. His own words are damning him. His attackers aren’t attacking him with all new observations about things they don’t like about him. This is the same person who had no issue attacking people who were vulnerable (remember he called Chelsea Clinton the Clintons’ new dog in the White House when she was just a little girl IIRC). I can’t really get worked up about it. When I’ve been faced with illness in the past, I didn’t expect (nor did I often get) special treatment and I remember fighting some pretty brutal battles at work over petty nothings.

    1. Same here. I shall file this under “shits about which I do not give”. He has not shown even the slightest bit of shame or repentance for his past words and actions, no quarter has been granted to those whom he and his minions have ruthlessly attacked over the years, therefore I feel not even the slightest amount of empathy or sympathy for him or his plight. Alan Alda on his podcast often asks if there is anyone for whom you cannot feel any empathy and the answer for me is in the affirmative. Perhaps that makes me a less moral person than some, but so be it. I shall reserve my empathy for his many victims and my disdain for him.

      1. I really like Alan Alda’s podcast. I find I can feel empathy for everyone if you take empathy to mean I can understand why they got to where they are and I can see myself experiencing similar things. I don’t feel sorry for easily though.

        1. If I were to meet him, talk about his childhood, and most likely find out about things, probably horrible things, that made him into the vile monster that he is, I may feel the stirrings of sympathy for him, well, for the vulnerable child he was anyway. I find this is about as far as I can go. At some point, free will arguments not withstanding, the child becomes the adult, the victim the perpetrator, the bullied becomes a bully. Then my sympathy and/or empathy shifts.

          1. The only tidbits on that that I know is that he was a bully and who would sucker punching someone who he saw as bully-able. This was from Al Frankens’ book: Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.

            1. I gather that Trump identified with a kindred spirit. Had Limbaugh uttered one minor criticism of Trump, I doubt that he would have gotten this award.

              (I wish presidents would go back to simply delivering the State of the Union address and dispense with all this window dressing of pointing out this or that person in the gallery. The same with presidential candidate debates. Give me the Nixon-Kennedy format, instead of the current circus with caterwauling audiences imposing themselves on and interrupting and drowning out candidates in mid-sentence.)

    2. “His own words are damning him.”

      He once said he deserved a medal for smoking.

      His own behavior is damning him, too.


  6. I guess I disagree with you, PCC[E]. I don’t have a problem with calling an odious character odious simply because he’s about to die. I don’t think proximity to death is a good reason to look away from the reality that has been the Life of Rush.

    1. Oh good. It’s not just me then. I know I can be really good at turning off empathy when I have to. I was beginning to think I was probably a monster again.

          1. I’m with both of you.

            My level of empathy stops somewhat short of Limbaugh level. I could just about muster some for Dubya, for example. But Limbaugh? – he’s not worth bothering to try.


    2. I’m in agreement with you GBJames. I just can’t be arsed to give a flying fuck. I don’t wish him agony or anything, but I have no problem using his own words to display why he is undeserving of this or any other medal for good deeds.

    3. I agree. I am quite capable of empathy and feeling sympathy for people, more than the average person I’m pretty sure. If I were to know enough about Rush’s life I might even feel some sympathy for him. As it happens I don’t.

      But even if I did I still wouldn’t have a problem with something like this article at this time in his life. It’s his own words. This is not stooping to his level at all. I think it is good for some truth to be added to the media stream that is going to largely be filled with praise for him. I would guess that he does not feel this article is particularly insulting. He probably chuckled and thought, “damn those liberals are stupid.”

    4. I agree. One can argue it is only right to criticize Limbaugh now while he still can defend himself.

      I won’t miss him, but I do wish him peace for the rest of his life.

  7. I am trying to have empathy, but his words and works make it extremely difficult. I will say that it says something that just quoting him is seen as damning him.

    1. “I will say that it says something that just quoting him is seen as damning him.”

      If just quoting him is seen as damning him, why the need to put the quotes in a ridiculously flowery font? That amounts to misrepresenting what he said as surely as misquoting him. (Sorry, Diana.)

        1. “How can a flowery font misrepresent someone’s vile words?”

          Because the chosen script adds a tone to the words, much as voice inflection does to speech, and in this case the tone deliberately mocks and misrepresents what’s being said. It’s also overkill: let the words speak for themselves.

          And yes, Deutsch Gothic would have been more appropriate. (Not sure if you’re old enough to remember “the Deacon” in the comic strip Pogo: everything he said was in Deutsch Gothic, which accurately represented his character.)


          1. It’s just not so. Yes, it smacks of mockery, no it does not in any way misrepresent what he said. At least, as long as the quotes are accurate. This is trying way too hard to find as much wrong as possible.

  8. What difference does it make if he’s dead or he’s alive? He said the quoted phrases himself. Quoting them is just good journalism allowing the readers to learn about his character, not smearing or spreading false information about him.

    On the contrary, I find it extremely hypocritical to wait until a person’s death before discussing their character.

  9. I think he is fair game: they went after him because he was awarded the Presidential Medal and hoisted him with his own petard. If they wait till his death, it will not be newsworthy any more. I grant that he is dying and that people care for him, but that seems to me irrelevant to using his own words to show that the award was a mistake. I think he can stand the heat.

    1. I agree with this – if he had quietly retired from public to be with his family and friends in his last days, or whatever, sure, don’t step in – until the aduldation at the funeral or whatever starts. But he did one last public act, received a public honour, and should be criticized if there’s controversy over that honour. (It is *also* in my view a criticism of *Trump* to do this exercise.)

  10. I respect PCCE’s opinion, but I disagree with it. As GBJames pointed out above, the NYTimes used Limbaugh’s own words to condemn him. It’s not like they wrote, “Limbaugh is a repugnant P.O.S. and we can’t wait to dance and spit on his grave.” Hey, presumably Limbaugh’s many followers admire him for his comments about “ugly broads” and “slavery was A-OK” and such, so what’s the harm in reprinting them, right?

    That’s what makes me sad: not that Limbaugh is an vile human being, because such people have always existed, but that so many people admire him for it. (The same is true for Agent Orange.)

    1. I contemplate the fatuity and hypocrisy of Trump or Limbaugh admonishing others not to quote for public consumption the vile sentiments they have hurled at others.

  11. He is an odious public -public- character. His career spouting hate and bigotry should be brought back to him while he still lives.

  12. Is there some level of unhealthiness that should grant one immunity from criticism?

    That NYT article wasn’t celebrating Limbaugh’s imminent demise, it was an examination of the latest recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Given that context I think there was nothing inappropriate about the article.

  13. I agree, Jerry. The NY Times opinion staff might have justifiably written a thoughtful critique of presenting Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Instead they chose to engage in ultra-snark, including the flowery font chosen to present Limbaugh’s quotes, thereby touting their own supposed cleverness rather than any point they were trying to make. I’d say it’s unworthy of the NY Times, but that would suggest that I think the NY Times is worth something these days.

    1. I think it is fascinating that you are so offended by this NYT article. Are you offended by any snark in any circumstances? Are you offended because snark was aimed at a man who is dying? Do you think that Limbaugh’s words and behavior are worthy of more decorum? Is a lack of a certain level of decorum so offensive to you that it outweighs all other considerations?

      This is something I see a lot of that strikes me as one of the reasons our politics has come to this. Somehow people look at something like this rather tame NYT article and weigh it against the words and behavior of a Limbaugh and choose to support Limbaugh.

  14. PCC, I would agree with you more if we lived in the kind of world that we wished we lived in.

    But the world we live in now is one where if the NYT refrained from such an article, it would be just one more example of the liberals playing by the old rules, and still not comprehending why Trump is prez, and Merrick Garland isn’t on the Supreme Court. (Let alone gerrymandering.)

    It’s sad, but the rules have changed. It seems that our world is the one where the high road is for losers. The world where the NYT pulls that column is the one where Trump gets four more years.

    1. I agree with your analysis. Politics has reverted to a style reminiscent of much of the 19th century when there was no such thing as a high road. Republican success over the last 40 years is partially due to relentless attack, spearheaded by right wing radio hosts such as Limbaugh then Fox News, on liberals and Democrats. The strategy is simple but effective: no matter what position the Democrats take, attack it over and over again, and don’t let the truth stand in the way. Democrats, Obama being a prime example, had great difficulty in learning this. The result was many electoral defeats for Democrats that did not have to take place if they only acknowledged that the rules of the game had changed. I hope Democrats have at last realized that one component of electoral victory is relentless attack on their opponents. But, unlike Republicans, they can do this by telling the truth.

        1. Betting they will instead react with repeated horror to anything said about Limbaugh. Look at Pelosi and “Papergate.”

  15. Should we suppress the truth as we see it regarding a public figure because the person is dying? If so, how long after the person is dead is it all right to speak how we feel? One day? A week? A month? This is not an easy question to to answer, but I don’t think the truth should be suppressed when the person is dying, particularly in the case of Rush Limbaugh, a vicious right winger, who spreads hate through his radio show.

    Millions of people saw him receive the presidential medal of freedom at the State of the Union address. Many of them may not be familiar with him, but conclude that he must be some sort of “good guy” because he received this honor, even if it came from Trump. This is the memory that will linger of him, even if sometime after his death negative opinions are published. Limbaugh doesn’t deserve to be remembered fondly. I would want the American public to know now, not maybe sometime in the future, how over many decades he promoted hate and division in the country. In any case, Limbaugh will get all the “love” a person can want from his right wing supporters.

  16. “because he’s a right-winger”

    I think it is because he is nasty, not because he is right-wing. There are other right-wingers who don’t and won’t get this kind of treatment. Rush, however, has made a career out of asking for it.

  17. I doubt that the article would have been written if the news were that Limbaugh had stage 4 lung cancer. The article was published because the president decided to honor Rush for a lifetime of vile behavior. If it were anyone else under different circumstances, I would agree with PCEE.

  18. Limbaugh has never been a threat to me. I think he genuinely believes that America is a swamp filled with diseased woke socialists who want to take away everything he holds dear. His belief is sad, pessimistic but also very unrealistic and marginalized.

    Is the NYT and it’s SJW base really afraid of a boring and easily refutable man? If Limbaugh is a threat there is no march away from all that some will considered ‘triggered’.

    Limbaugh might be pro-gun, pro-tobacco, anti-climate, and obese, but he is dying and the last time I checked dying sucks. It’s too bad Hitchens is not alive. He would debate Rush in a fair, uncontemptuous way. The press should choose balanced ways to illustrate the effect, if any, Limbaugh has had on society.

    1. Is he harmless? Ideas can be dangerous. I think you should be feee to express ideas but I don’t think we should dismiss them as harmless.

      1. Do our President’s statements on immigrants hurt me? No. But it has really empowered a lot of ICE agents to act like common thugs at the border, and that *is* done in my name.

    2. Marginalized? Are you kidding me?

      He shares a large portion responsibility for the catastrophic character of America’s right wing politics. He was just “honored” during a SOTU address, for crissakes.

    3. “Is the NYT and it’s SJW base really afraid of a boring and easily refutable man?”

      He has been not so boring to not a few. Were he boring, he would have been off the air years ago.

  19. Far back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when I was both religious and conservative I got a paid subscription to the EIB network. Even while still being religious and conservative I quickly came to despise the man and wouldn’t give him a thought or prayer even if I remained a devout conservative. The NYT article is on point IMHO

  20. I can definitely see leaving the poor bastard alone until he expires. On the other hand, the NYT is performing a function for Limbaugh that seems appropriate. In A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge is confronted by his own record of malevolence to provide him with one last chance to say he was sorry for harm done. If he notices how he will be remembered, there is a small chance for some kind of resolution. At least in principle. Don’t look for a statement of apology. With some people there’s not much hope.

  21. In my opinion, there are two men who deserve the majority of the blame for bringing the U.S. to the brink of being an authoritarian state: Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

    Gingrich ushered in the current era of partisan hostility and distrust, creating an atmosphere where one party’s legislative gain must be seen as the other party’s loss. Compromise, THE necessary component of democratic rule, is now anathema to the Republican Party. According to a recent article I read, Gingrich is proud of this legacy.

    Limbaugh made his name by debasing public discourse almost beyond recognition. No public figure or issue was above his puerile mocking. He used the power of the mass media to promote his view that anyone who didn’t share his beliefs must be dehumanized.

    I realize the power of the human mind to rationalize one’s actions is almost infinite, so I don’t actually hold out much hope that either of these men will experience an epiphany and recant their hateful, destructive behaviors. However, I have no problem with them being presented clearly and forcefully with the legacy of their acts while they’re still alive.

  22. I would agree with you if Trump hadn’t given him that award. I feel we can’t let Trump freely leverage the fact that Limbaugh is dying to normalize the garbage he’s been feeding people for so many years. I know we aren’t supposed to drop to Trump’s level but I’m afraid of where we might end up if we don’t fight Trump, and Trump’s world which includes Limbaugh, with everything we’ve got.

      1. It’s not like Limbaugh rejected Trump’s medal. I view it as a carefully calculated moment that Trump and Limbaugh probably engineered together. It is all part of their program to normalize their hateful, cynical view of the world.

        Ignoring the medal, I agree with many other commenters here. Limbaugh did so much evil in the world that I don’t think it is balanced by his charitable giving or by dying of cancer. Perhaps you haven’t followed Limbaugh closely. He was Fox News before Fox News existed. Arguably more than anyone else, he created an identity that many would follow by weaving a dense thicket of lies and hate. I suspect that Trump learned a lot from Limbaugh over the years, as did most of the GOP in Congress and the Tea Party.

    1. It’s not exactly dropping to Trump’s level anyway. It is hard to conceive of a more formal way of giving the stamp of official approval to Limbaugh’s vicious hatefulness than by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address. Given that, it was entirely correct, in my view, of the NYT to show the perversity of that decision by quoting some of the horrible, divisive things that characterise what Limbaugh routinely poured out over the airwaves.

  23. Getting the medal of freedom from Trump must be close to getting the Iron Cross from Hitler. It’s a real honor.

  24. My take is different from our hosts. I don’t think the NYT is kicking Limbaugh so much as Talmon Joseph Smith is. And Smith’s opinion piece doesn’t strike me as mean spirited but rather matter of fact. Limbaugh’s entire career has been built on hate, mean spirited attacks, misinformation, and a complete lack of empathy toward those not in his tribe. Limbaugh is a public figure and his deplorable record should be widely known, even as I have empathy for the pain his illness brings.

  25. Limbaugh pushed the false flag conspiracy theories in regard to mass shootings, particularly the one in New Zealand.

    He took advantage of deaths to sell airtime.

    I have no sympathy for his ilk. They have caused tremendous damage to society, almost certainly for cold hard cash. I see no problem with showing everyone exactly what kind of person he is, alive, dying or dead.

    1. While driving through southern Ohio and northern Kentucky I remember hearing Limbaugh hold forth on Jerry Garcia, who had died that day or the day before. All in a day’s work, one (soon to be) drug enthusiast raking another over the coals.

  26. Many of not most of those comments seem to have been taken out of context. I don’t doubt that they’d probably be still damning in context, but as it is, it’s hard to even understand what many of them mean.

    For example:

    “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.”

    What does what make her??

    “The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”

    This doesn’t seem like the kind of thing one would say just out of the blue. There must have been some related event or story, and it’d be much more informative to know what that was.

    And finally,

    “If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.”

    I think you could actually have a reasonable argument about this. What race hasn’t had slaves? What races have had the most slaves? Who treated their slaves the worst? What race first abolished slavery? Who has have done the most to make up for past slavery? What races still practice chattel slavery to this day? These are real considerations that should bear on any real accounting of which race should have the most or least guilt about slavery.

    In fact, I think this last comment – again taken out of context – is actually quite reasonable. The fact that they present this as though it was obviously wrong and disgusting says more to me about the New York Times’ political bias than Rush’s.

    I was also surprised as just how few comments there were and how mild they were compared to what I imagined before clicking the link. Decades of being a shock jock and that’s the worst they could find? Not that I think Rush isn’t an odious character, but surely for a smear job they could have done better?

    1. You make good points. Still, I detest the man and feel no pity for him. Governor George Wallace said and did many horrible racist things, but I felt pity for him in the end because he recanted and stood in the schoolhouse door and said “I was wrong.” I don’t expect Limbaugh to do the same.

      1. I agree with you and feel no pity myself, but I have to admit that I’ve never actually listened to him – and I expect almost nobody here has either – so my impression of him is almost entirely formed from third- or forth-hand rumors about how he’s a terrible person. And that’s really not a solid position to be in when it comes to hating someone. Depending on who you listen to, Sam Harris is made out to be a similarly unhinged hater. Of course, there are only so many hours in the day and I don’t feel the need to dig into his broadcasts to find out the truth – but I also can’t jump wholeheartedly onto the Rush hate train without having done so.

        1. It’s hard to reach my age in the US without having heard Rush Limbaugh. Snippets of his bombast were played widely perhaps 20 or 30 years ago. I suspect most of the readers of this website have heard him though they would not likely be regular listeners.

        2. I was a regular listener from the beginning of 1990, until the day he ridiculed Jerry Garcia the day after his death. I believe that was 1995. I just couldn’t stand him anymore

    2. What an interesting view of slavery you have. Hey, it wasn’t so bad here and what the heck, it was practiced everywhere. Of course, as a fellow with a penchant for logic, you would have to agree that the Founders’ continual yapping about liberty was pure hypocrisy because the slavery here was really no different than anywhere else except perhaps that the slaves should have been grateful for their servitude because they served such benevolent masters. Hell’s bells, they could have ended up slaves under really bad masters (not the really good ones here) in some other parts of the world. Gosh darn it, Lincoln screwed up such a wonderful system by freeing the slaves. Undoubtedly, John C. Calhoun, looking down from the Big House in the sky, is saying to all his former slaveholding comrades, “why aren’t there more Adam M.s? When he gets up here we’ll have a big glass of mint julep waiting for him, served by our best house slave, who is pleased as punch to being owned.”

      1. I never said slavery here wasn’t bad, and where did I say it was wonderful? You’re putting words in my mouth. But the current political and cultural milieu is to blame all whites and only whites for slavery. Surely some comment of that kind is what prompted Rush’s remark, and I think such comments are indicative of a clear double standard in addition to the general absurdity of blaming an entire race for historical American slavery, especially given that so many whites came to this country after slavery was abolished or had ancestors who fought against it. Would you accept an argument of blanket guilt by descent against Arabs, blacks, or Jews? Of course not.

        1. You’re making ‘well, technically’ excuses for a guy who was not making a technical argument. That’s what’s frustrating about it.

          Immediately, without evidence, you assume that the quote was preceded by some long, subtle, historical argument that somehow justified what he said. You do the same whitewashing with his other quotes.

          And of course, I’d add that anyone who’s so desperate to wriggle free of historical reality that they start ranking slaveries(how exactly?) in order of which was most awful is already scraping the barrel.

          1. Hence why my primary complaint was about the lack of the context, which prevented an informed evaluation. But my assumption about the last one was not entirely without evidence. I read about whites and “whiteness” blamed on an almost weekly basis for slavery and most other social ills, not just in the United States, but worldwide – including here on this website in PCC’s posts. It’s completely mainstream. When the Democrats at the last debate agreed that “we have a racist society from top to bottom”, whose racism? What racism? Of course it’s “white racism”. That’s our current political milieu. Can you present an alternative context for the quote that is more likely?

            In any case, I think the idea of blaming a race today for historical slavery, let along ranking the races, to be absurd. It’s too many people to lump together. But if others are going to say that whites are the worst – which implies a ranking – then I can play that game too, and I think it’d be easy to show by pretty much any relevant metric that whites aren’t the worst. Certainly if people are going to play that game, a reasonable disagreement could be had, and I don’t think that Rush’s comment is obviously wrong and horrible, as the author presumably does.

            1. There was usually an element of truth to what Limbaugh had to say. Even when he accused Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s, it didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. After all, he is an actor. It was just mean and hateful to rant on about it like Limbaugh did in order to paint all liberals as fakers. He was really good at it, far better than Trump on his best day.

              1. Wait, what? “An element of truth” is not at all the same as “didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.”

              2. Sorry for being unclear. I was suggesting that it might be the case that Fox exaggerated his disease but that doesn’t justify Limbaugh’s bringing it up and expanding it into a tirade against all liberals.

              3. Paul… Occam’s razor applies here. Fox died at 57 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. There’s no evidence that he ever exaggerated his symptoms..

              4. I don’t want to pile on Fox. However, we have all seen people with Parkinson’s. We also have seen Fox himself in acting roles well after his Parkinson’s became apparent. Now look at the ad that Limbaugh is calling out and tell me that there is no chance Fox is exaggerating it. I’m not saying he is but he might be.

                Even though that thought occurred to me when I saw his Fox’s ad, I probably would never have voiced the thought without Limbaugh wading into it. There’s really no way of knowing whether Fox exaggerated it and, even if he did, what’s the point on calling him on it if he’s doing it for a worthy cause? (I suppose if one was involved in a competing charity, one might have a different take.)

                I can’t say any more on the subject for risk of appearing as a Limbaugh Ditto-Head, which I am most definitely not.

              5. The point is, Paul, that there’s no reason to make the assertion, to “ask the question”. The same question could be asked about any and every person suffering from any and every disability. How do you know that they aren’t exaggerating? Well, logically, you can’t know. But it is perverse to suggest they are without evidence.

              6. “But it is perverse to suggest they are without evidence.”

                I’m not sure what you mean by this. Are you suggesting that Limbaugh had sufficient evidence that justifies him bringing up the exaggeration story?

              7. Geez don’t scare me like that Michael J. Fox is my example of a good Canadian and the one I always give for being the opposite of me. I was afraid he was actually dead!

              8. @ Paul, no I’m not saying that. But I’ve already balled up once and I’m on this little phone keyboard. Probably best if I stop now while I’m behind.

              9. There was usually an element of truth to what Limbaugh had to say. Even when he accused Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s, it didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. After all, he is an actor.

                Paul, that is pretty much the most egregious comment I’ve ever read on WEIT. As someone who has suffered a serious illness, and knows many other people that have too, I’m appalled by your comment. Generally, when people are seriously ill the very last thing they want to do is give the impression they are even more seriously ill. It’s awful being the poorly, incapacitated person that needs help and attention. The very last thing you want to do in that situation is to emphasize your own difficulties in behaving normally and dealing with life’s challenges. In my own experience, people with life-threatening illnesses do not exaggerate their symptoms. It is the LAST thing on their minds. Truly, I am shocked – did you really mean what you said in that comment?

              10. Give me a break. I am only reporting a thought that I had. As I already said, no one but Fox knows if he was faking. I wasn’t accusing him of it, just saying that it’s possible. Limbaugh was the one that turned the idea into a giant slam against liberals. If you are going to turn me in to the Thought Police, I will gladly wait at the curb to be picked up though I feel no guilt in this instance.

              11. Fair enough Paul, at the time it just really struck me as unpleasant and a low blow. Maybe I took it personally after being in a similar situation and reacted accordingly with an emotional response. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s what I did. Your intention was surely not intended to provoke or agitate, and I know from your usual comments your a very reasonable fella. I just took it the wrong way – apologies for my ranty response.

              12. As someone with minor back problems, some days I look like I do, on others I can suck it up because I’m teaching a class. I would not call that ‘faking.’

                As a professiona actor, Michael J. Fox could be faking having Parkinson’s at all. Why not? Though there is nothing to support it, it’s also “not outside the realm of possibility.”

            2. It’s not a case of blaming the white race today for historical slavery. The question is whether white people today owe any sort of redress to descendants of slaves since all whites, even those whose ancestors were not in the country when slavery existed, are the beneficiaries of an economy built in large measure on the backs of slaves.

              Imagine you inherited a large sum of money from your father, supposedly a successful businessman. You used the inheritance to fund a lifestyle that you could not have achieved without it. Sometime later, you discover that your father accumulated his wealth by cheating his clients. You also discover that most of these clients are now deceased, but they have left offspring. What do you do? Do you seek out the clients or descendants to recompense them for the money your father stole? Or, do you say that since you had no involvement in the theft, and, indeed, found out about the crimes many years after your father died you, therefore, have no obligation to return any of the stolen money?

              So, yes, the question is whether the beneficiaries of stolen goods have a moral obligation to help the descendants of the crime, which in this case is the stolen labor and dehumanization and bondage of slaves in addition to the widespread racism that succeeded the formal end of slavery and exists to the present day. I don’t think reparations in the form of direct monetary grants to descendants of slaves is workable for many reasons. But, reparations in some form is the only moral thing to do.

              1. And how do you determine who benefited? Simply because you are white? Are we going to do a genealogy study to determine whether a black person’s ancestors were actually slaves and whether a white person’s ancestors were slave owners? What about mixed races? What about the fact that a large fraction of people in the country today descend from immigrants who came after slavery was abolished? Your father-son analogy where there is a clear connection is simply not appropriate to the situation.

              2. I agree. Reparations is fine in theory but it would be a nightmare in practice. And what about reparations for all the other past wrongs? Racism is certainly not the only one. Perhaps all women deserve reparations for all the opportunities they were denied throughout history.

              3. To darwinwins:

                The basis of your argument is that it is just too hard to find an equitable solution to the consequences of what is undoubtedly true: America was built on slave labor, at least in part. All whites were beneficiaries. The descendants of slaves experienced Jim Crow and racism. But since it is too difficult to find a solution, the whole thing should be forgotten. It’s tough luck for the descendants of slaves. They should just shut up and be grateful that their ancestors were slaves in a system that wasn’t all that bad, relatively speaking. Again, as I said above, I think there are too many problems for direct monetary compensation, but, are we so devoid of imagination that some system of recompense cannot be devised?

              4. I think the energy is better spent on solving the problem going forward. A dollar spent on reparations would be better spent, IMHO, on making sure everyone gets a good education, adequate healthcare, proper treatment by police, and so on, regardless of race.

              5. To Historian.

                I did not say the problem should be “forgotten.” I do think that framing a solution as present-day whites paying reparations to present-day blacks, in whatever form, is massively counterproductive. And not the way to get the job done. Like Paul, I believe the solution should address the current problem looking forward, not harping on past wrongs. FWIW, I think the best solution is a Marshall-style plan to ensure that black children are as well educated as white children. The problem is that the way education is financed ensures that children from poor families get poor schools. I would support a multi-trillion dollar Federal program to end this basic inequity over the next generation.

    3. Omitted from the NYT piece were that Rushbo mocked Michael J. Fox for his Parkinson’s disease, wondered why “all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson,” and referred to an adolescent Chelsea Clinton as “the White House dog.”

      Care to venture contextual excuses for any of those?

  27. My mother would probably say something to the effect that “if you can’t say anything nice, remain silent” and that would be my general feeling. Deaths from cancer are too common and for most people too close to home to be celebrated.

    On the other hand…..

    1. I don’t think the NYT is celebrating his cancer though. It’s one thing to say “haha you have cancer” and another to say “wow that’s a douche remark you made and it makes you appear to be a vile person” irrespective of a person’s cancer status.

    2. I don’t think the NYT is celebrating his cancer though. It’s one thing to say “haha you have cancer” and another to say “wow that’s a douche remark you made and it makes you appear to be a vile person” irrespective of a person’s cancer status.

  28. I do not think his imminent death should come into play one way or another. Had he just died, that is a different story, then I would give his family a week or so before a negative piece. Kind of like the people that mentioned Kobe Bryant being accused of sexual assault right after he died, that is not the time or place imo. RL is the polar opposite of an individual who should have been awarded a medal by our country. It needs to be said, he has espoused so much hatred, bigotry and intolerance throughout his career. I completely disagree that this nyt piece is off base.

  29. In my opinion, future generations will look back on Limbaugh’s ceaseless portrayal of anthropogenic climate change as ‘an outright hoax proferred by greedy lying scientists to take away precious God-given liberty’ (paraphrased, but barely) as the moral equivalent of a war crime. He is evil and cruel, mean-spirited and arrogant, and is a strong influence driving American politics (particularly Republican politics) to authoritarian and proudly ignorant depths. The world would be better without him. No empathy forthcoming.

  30. Nothing vile about these quotes to his listeners. About half of the population will not see any wrong with the article.

  31. I am not going to publish comments in which people say they are glad he is dying–I find those horrific and they really bother me. Even if that’s the way you feel, please don’t say that. If you wish to take issue with what I said and argue that there’s nothing wrong with what the NYT said or did, or excoriate the man for his behavior, that’s fine.

    But please do not say that you’re happy he’s dying. It really upsets me to hear that from anybody.

  32. Have to disagree with you, Jerry. Not because I believe it should be open season on right- wingers. Clint Eastwood, for example, would not deserve this kind of abuse if he took sick. And I was (mostly) sympathetic to those who thought Michael Moore took advantage of Charlton Heston all those years back. But neither Eastwood nor Heston belittled, attacked, relentlessly pursued and mocked the people they disagreed with. Rush has actual power and wielded it with relish. Especially when his targets were powerless, themselves.
    The kind of human calculation triggered by confronting our own mortality when another person is dying that leads to your argument isn’t enough here. We should spend the last of his days reminding him, and the world, just how horrid he was and how much pain he caused over the years before his death softens that perspective in the least.

    After all, what would he do if it was HRC or one of the Obama’s dying slowly? I think you know. Hold him to his own standards.

    1. That last part is a very good point. It would not at all surprise me to learn that Limbaugh has slammed someone dying of a terminal disease. That’s not justification for us to do the same, of course, but I have no problem recognizing the man’s life and his accomplishments. 😉

        1. Surprise, surprise.

          There should be some kind of law with pricks like this: ‘anything they complain about they’ve already done to someone else, many times before, and much worse.’

          You could call it ‘Trump’s Law’ or something.

  33. Having read the article, I think I have to disagree with you. I think it is triggered not by his impending death but by the award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for “the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire”. I think, in the circumstances, it is reasonable to be critical of the speech that has apparently inspired millions of people.

    Nevertheless, there are people who are using these circumstances to reiterate what a horrible man he is

    If “these circumstances” refer to Limbaugh’s terminal illness, I would agree with you. It would be kicking a man when he’s down, but, in my opinion, the circumstances of the NYT article are no more those circumstances than the circumstances that led you to write

    Limbaugh is an odious character: a true spokeman for the real “Basket of Deplorables” who elected Trump. He’s a hatemonger, a sexist and a nativist, if not a racist

    I think you wrote those words, not because you saw an opportunity occasioned by Limbaugh’s illness but because, if you didn’t, there would be those who would accuse you of being an apologetic for Limbaugh. Likewise, I think the NYT wrote their words, not because they saw an opportunity occasioned by Limbaugh’s illness but because they think the award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is a travesty – an opinion with which I agree.

      1. How does it damage the other recipients? I think it is a travesty, but people aren’t going to go up to Margaret Hamilton and say “you are less in my sight now that Rush Limbaugh has the same medal as you”.

        1. It makes the medal look like a way for Presidents to honor their personal favorites rather than the awardees’ contribution to society. There was probably an element of this in past awards but Trump seems to go out of his way to make sure everyone knows that he’s doing this to piss off his opponents. It worked and I suspect his supporters think it’s just the coolest thing. I’m not saying it devalues the award greatly but its just one more bit of institution destroying from our President.

          1. Gotta agree with Paul to some extent here. Once an award becomes politicized – and so many have been in recent years – it’s hard to take it seriously in the future.

            I don’t think it devalues the honor for the deserving people who came before, but it does for the deserving people who come after, and perhaps in the minds of people who hear somebody received the award but don’t know exactly when they received it or under what circumstances.

      2. Maybe the focus on Limbaugh is just another distraction. Glancing through the list reminds me of the real villain in this incident. tRump. His selection of Limbaugh is undoubtedly another thumb in the eye of people who are rightfully incensed by his choice. I’m sure he knows the name ‘Limbaugh’ will stand out as a flashing beacon long after he, tRump, expires and drifts into infamy. He does this kind of thing simply because he can. Like a child holding his breath ’till he turns blue.

  34. Yeah, No! Limbo is probably the most divisive person ever in America. His arrogance on top of it all is simply too much to let him go peacefully. He needs to be reminded of who he is in truth, especially after the misrepresentation bestowed on him by tRump.

  35. I disagree.

    The fact that he is dying of cancer doesn’t make giving him a presidential medal of freedom something that shouldn’t be criticised, and to make the criticism you’ve kind of got to dig into the person Limbaugh is.

    And Limbaugh is, the Alex Jones before Alex Jones.

  36. You think these quotes are ‘mild’? Blimey, it hasn’t taken long for new standards to come into play, has it? A woman campaigning for fairer birth control policies is a ‘slut, a prostitute’, and conservatives are now trying to push that this kind of stuff is ‘mild’?

    It’s the ‘locker-room talk’ justification, and it’s nonsense.

    1. PCC(E) said

      Of course all the quotes will make the hairs on your neck stand up

      I think you either meant to reply to Adam M @ 29 or you confused his post with PCC(E)’s article.

        1. For some reason it wasn’t allowing me to reply, and just posted everything I wrote as a fresh comment.

          (this was meant as a reply to Jeremy at 39, just in case it goes astray again)

    2. They’re mild in comparison to what I imagined and expected given the way people talk about Rush Limbaugh as the most hateful man in America, and given his decades of broadcasting and probably millions of words to choose from.

      They could probably find something more damning if they tried, but such a lazy smear piece might even have the opposite effect of making people think “That’s it? That’s the worst that’s ever been said by ‘the most hateful and divisive man in America’? I guess it was just hyperbole.”

      1. It’s your assumption that ‘this is the best they could do’ and that they were specifically trying to frame him as the “the most hateful and divisive man in America”(a sentence which afaict doesn’t appear anywhere in the extremely spare, calm NYT article).

        In reality they just printed some representative quotes, and didn’t offer a single sentence of opinion about him at all. Calling it a “lazy smear” is…well, a lazy smear.

        And…how does it ‘smear’ him exactly? You haven’t explained that part. It quotes him. Nothing more. I’m struggling to see where the smearing takes place.

        1. The words about him being the most hateful and divisive person in America come from the comments here, which I read before clicking the link to view the article, and which set my expectations.

          By a “smear piece” I meant that the primary purpose of the article is to lower people’s opinion of him. I don’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t deserve it. If that’s an incorrect usage of the phrase “smear piece”, then I’ll try to find a more apt phrase. “Hit piece”? I donno.

          1. “By a “smear piece” I meant that the primary purpose of the article is to lower people’s opinion of him. I don’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t deserve it. If that’s an incorrect usage of the phrase “smear piece”, then I’ll try to find a more apt phrase. “Hit piece”? I donno.”

            Neither of those descriptions is accurate.
            A ‘smear’ is a distortion of the truth. None of these quotes are unrepresentative of Limbaugh’s opinions. None of them are inaccurate. Nowhere in the article does any NYT writer even venture their own opinion on Limbaugh’s character.

            Using your logic, any critical article, of any kind, could be described as a ‘lazy smear’ or a ‘hit job’. If I publish an article that describes Trump as the president of America and then reprints some of his most horrible quotes, that’s automatically a ‘smear’.

            Which is simply a misuse of language.

            And it’s doubly frustrating because conservatives spend 80% of their rhetorical energy complaining about how easily offended liberals are. Yet this spare collection of straightforward quotes is written off as a smear, and elsewhere another commenter complained that the font was ‘flowery’. We really are through the looking glass right now.

  37. Going after a guy who is dying, regardless of what kind of person is not right. How low do you have to go to equal Trump and is that where you want your standards to be? Dancing on graves before the person is even dead? Real classy. Nearly all the stuff this guy put out was on the radio. So change the station.

    1. Why does impending death require everyone to ignore the actual livelong behavior? How is that “un-classy”? Why does it matter that he used the radio as his vehicle?

      Honestly, Randall…

      1. I am not asking you to ignore anything. Obviously you just don’t get it. When you come down with something deadly, I’m sure you will love the reviews. What a no class act you just put up. Not only have none, you wouldn’t know it if you fell over it.

        1. Please point out to me in that article anything that could be described as ‘dancing on his grave’?

          I find this general argument bewildering. So he should be given a hall pass until he dies?

          Okay – then is he going to lay off smearing, inciting, lying, insulting, fomenting, etc. until he dies?

          And what are we allowed to write about him? Because the article didn’t do anything besides reprint his own words – so are we not allowed to quote him? Or is it just the quotes that aren’t awful, racist, sexist drivel?

          Because that seems fabulously dishonest about the man’s character, bordering on journalistic dereliction of duty.

  38. I recall a line in a movie – perhaps The Godfather: “I prefer to pay tribute to a man while he is still alive.” This is just the flipside.

    And then there are those who maintain that you should speak no ill of the dead. I seem to recall that coming up after Nixon died.

  39. I’m struggling to see where the NYT is ‘kicking’ him here. They published an article about a guy who was recently awarded a prestigious medal, and who plenty of readers will know little about. In said article they did nothing more than reprint his own words. Even calling the introduction ‘snarky’ is, imo, reaching. It’s spare and matter-of-fact.

    Re. Hitchens in particular, I’d be very surprised if he’d have objected to this kind of article. He was perfectly prepared to do a hell of a lot more than just quote people after their death. He tore into them, and famously said he wished there was a hell for them to be in.

    Sure, that was after their death, but it’s a hell of a lot more extreme than anything in this article, and he did it within a very short time of their deaths being announced, when family members would only have just received the news.
    He didn’t care about any of that, and persisted. I see this article as considerably more tasteful than any of the interviews Hitch gave that we’re all thinking of. Not that I’m critical of Hitch’s interviews re. Mother Theresa, Falwell, etc. I think they were brilliant, and absolutely necessary correctives.

    One last thing: Hitch was himself dying when he embroiled himself in some of the most poisonous arguments of his career, and didn’t expect anyone else to go easy on him simply because the end as in sight for him. The last few years of his life were a demonstration of the kind of intellectual fortitude and critical honesty he expected from both himself and the people with whom he debated – of course I never knew him, but I think the idea that someone would have gone easy on him in print or in debate simply because he was dying would not have sat well with him.

    …Oh, and he was a million times the man that Rush Limbaugh could possibly imagine being in his wildest dreams.

  40. Wha??? I just read the intro to the article – you found it “snarky”? I’m baffled. I found it matter-of-fact.

    1. The only snag with that comparison is that the scrawny character in the ad probably had some salvageable parts.

      Limbaugh, probably not so much…


    2. I wonder if he gave to charities (other than his families evangelical church). Maybe he gave to Habitat for Humanity to build housing for the homeless here and abroad. Maybe he gave to Doctors without boarders to save children in Africa. Possibly he was a great blood donor. His on-air persona may all have been an act. The real Rush Limbaugh, Net worth: $590 million, might very well have left his dosh to scholarly programs at universities, hospitals, and research foundations. 😎

      1. If he did, why would that give him a pass from all the hateful things he said and the ruination of the country that he helped start and keep going? Does making charitable contributions remove the stain of a life poorly lived? Does the fact that his money was made by telling lies get excused by charitable contributions? I sure hope that emoji means you were kidding.

        1. A joke for sure. I do wonder, however, about his private life, family life, etc. What kind of person was he when he wasn’t on radio? What kind of weird balance is struck?

      2. I used to wonder that about Anne Coulter – what it was like in her day-to-day life like what’s it like for her to interact with someone at a check-out counter or what’s it like to buy groceries — the day-to-day minutiae. I think it’s probably the same for anyone else. For Coulter, she seems to me like a sociopath so being friends with her would be fun a lot of the time as long as you didn’t expect anything from her. Of course, it would be embarrassing too. I imagine Limbaugh wouldn’t be as straightforward as Coulter because I don’t think he’s a sociopath, just a cruel doofus so there would be no intellectual interest there.

        1. I always thought Coulter knew better, but simply developed a career around shocking liberals. Phyllis Schlafly is another misanthropic nut case – although with a quieter bark.

  41. There was a woman in the office at work who listened to him every day. She said he was funny. I knew other people who listened to and followed him.

    When you are in. business working for a corporation you are limited in who you get/have to work with and who your customers are.

    I bought his book. First chapter was about how his career started and was interesting. Chapter two I got through. First three sentences of chapter three made me do angry I threw the book away.

    Let’s just day I am glad he is iff the radio and leave it at that, and not mention anything about why he us leaving.

  42. I am not glad he is dying – I do feel the world will be a better place without him. And I doubt he cares about the opinions of those who are now casting aspersions upon his life’s work, just like he did not care about all of the people he abused and made fun of during his life.

  43. Better people than him die everyday, so I really don’t care about him. I do feel bad for all of the Dominican sex workers who will be out of business after he kicks.

  44. I think noxious people deserve to be called out for their noxious after their deaths — the way H.L. Mencken did in his obituary of William Jennings Bryan and Hunter Thompson did in his of Richard Nixon. But I think those types of pieces should be written only by someone who had kicked the decedent when he or she was still alive and healthy and fully able to respond in kind (as Mencken and Thompson had often kicked the targets of their scorn when they were around to defend themselves).

    Whether there should be a period of politesse observed while the subject is terminally ill is topic on which I am agnostic. Limbaugh himself never played the political game as though it were beanbag. On the other hand, it seems the more sporting route to observe a higher standard than Limbaugh ever showed his own enemies.

    But I see absolutely no reason not to mock Donald Trump mercilessly in the here and now for having bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom award on the likes of Rush Limbaugh — a person for whom it is difficult to imagine anyone else less worthy of what the medal is claimed to stand for — and for Trump’s having done it not at the White House, where such business has always been previously conducted, but in the capitol building where he was a guest specifically invited to perform his constitutional duty of annually advising the union as to its state, rather than to interrupt the official proceedings to make a tactless show of rewarding his propagandist.

    1. Consider this counterfactual. Imagine that instead of shooting himself in his bunker, Hitler is captured by the Russians and scheduled to be tried at Nuremberg. While he is awaiting trial, it becomes known that he is suffering from a terminal illness and could die before even the proceedings would begin. Would it have been the seemly or decent thing to stop talking about his crimes until he was dead? I don’t think so. People who do bad things should not receive a special dispensation from criticism because of a terminal illness. Why should they? Limbaugh isn’t Hitler, but he’s done much to stoke fear and division. People who oppose his views should never stop talking about them, regardless of the state of his health.

      1. Yes, I suspected someone would bring Hitler up, and I thought about it in advance. I wouldn’t be so opposed to people doing to him what they did to Limbaugh, but let’s be fair: Limbaugh is no Hitler.

        1. I don’t see the distinction as being helpful at all. Is Hitler the only person for whom such an exception is made?

  45. For those that don’t know Limbaugh, this CNN snippet briefly summarizes his work. The last half of it shows John Avlon, author of “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America”, which I assume featured Limbaugh prominently, talking about Limbaugh and the message Trump was sending to his base by awarding him a medal:


  46. Dr. Coyne, your empathy does you credit, but I can only see a pathetic, hateful man who is being confronted by his own divisive, hateful words. And he’s not sorry for saying any of it.

    I’m going to invoke Godwin’s Law here. When I was a freshman at William and Mary in 1978, I was given a book in history class to read called “The Cunning of History” by Richard E. Rubenstein. One of the things I took away from that book was how insidiously the German government/ Nazis dehumanized the Jews, gays, mental patients and anyone else they disagreed with by using the media.

    I see definite parallels with Limbaugh and his “dittoheads”. Other talk radio conservatives followed his lead. The hatred and contempt they express towards people who don’t think just like they do is shocking. Limbaugh did his damnedest to marginalize and *dehumanize* anyone who did not agree with him. And he’s succeeded. We are a divided and polarized nation. He knew exactly what he was doing and he cynically laughed all the way to the bank while he did it.

    I have nothing but contempt, scorn and complete disgust for this waste of a human being.

  47. One suspects Trump knew what kind of reaction his bestowing of a Presidential Medal of Freedom, to someone who obviously didn’t deserve it, would have. Trump was just using the man’s health situation for his own means; viz look how low my opponents are. So yes, perhaps the situation would have been best left ignored.

  48. Limbaugh is a toxic person and in my opinion, did tremendous harm to society over his unfortunately long career. If it weren’t for the combination of the right of free speech and technology (radio, the Internet) during his lifetime, he would have had far less impact upon us all, but alas, he did. Because of Limbaugh, I daresay far more women were belittled and even molested, far more pollution was created (and more people died of other cancers from that), and far more reasonable voices for unity and moderation were drowned out or silenced. He created the climate of hate that spawned Trump and Trumpism. Trump’s bestowing of that medal was his way of giving every single one of us the finger.

    The question of whether or not we should keep our glee at his nearly immanent (and permanent) silencing to ourselves, really comes down to whether he deserves the same degree of civility that he showed the rest of us during his career, and based on what’s out there, it’s hard to argue that he’s not getting off easy. Decades of venom pumped into the airwaves demands a reckoning, and I like to think that he read the NYT piece and didn’t dismiss it — at least not immediately.

    Frankly, the people whose passing will have me truly dancing in the street will be Trump and McConnell. Airing out Limbaugh’s bag of hurtful rhetoric before he’s gone isn’t enough punishment, since lucky for him, there’s very probably no such place as Hell.

  49. I have empathy, I don’t wish anyone harm or ill will.
    Rush’s diagnoses has not endowed him with special qualities. I see no reason to treat him differently because of it.

  50. schadenfreude.

    That is German word for enjoying misfortune of others or of punishment of bad behavior. There is no corresponding English word. It is a pretty common human behavior and interesting word to read about and consider.
    A lot of that going on with the news if Rush’s impending death. Whether or not it is moral behavior is a good question.

  51. I think the use of that calligraphic script is unfortunate. Stupid typeface choice. It’s pretentious (for what reason?), ridiculously ornate, cluttered, way too large type size, so all in all, all it does is detract from Limbaugh’s ugly words and the import of those words.

    That aside, I say that there’s nothing at all wrong with letting Limbaugh’s publicly uttered words stand as verbatim public testament to what the man is and what he represents – he’s a public figure who came to prominence because of his crude politics and crude language, in both substance and style. To suppress his words out of a misplaced sense of sympathy amounts to a kind of censorship, and we need to be reminded of just what he stands for and how Trump debased the coin of the honor by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Furthermore, the man is still alive and kicking, and presumably can defend himself if he wants to. As others here have observed, he’s surely proud of his words. I don’t think that these sentiments preclude my feeling sympathy (and perhaps some empathy) for the bloke.

    These same words of Limbaugh published shortly after his death, would/will elicit, a tut-tuting, “Don’t speak ill of the dead.” One can’t win for losing.

    And why the pussyfooting about calling Limbaugh the racist that he is. No putative about it.

    1. As a graphic artist, I hate the use of that calligraphic font because it is so damn hard to read. It would be great, judiciously used, for a formal invitation. But it was never meant to typeset quotes, where reading is more important that appearance.

  52. My 1st reaction to the NYT piece is what ridiculous, difficult to read fonts. 2nd, trusting Snopes more than NYT, disappointing that NYT would mis-attribute so many quotes. Semi-understandable that decades of these mis-attributions would be widely accepted as correct, but poor journalism to repeat them.

    Should Rush get a pass for offensive speech because of his reported terminal illness? I glanced at Rush’s web site. His current schtick is his version of “Trump is the greatest, destined to be re-elected.” He leverages the Medal of Freedom award. Rush appears sensitive to charges of racism, although for now he’s content to link to inflammatory Fox commentary attacking his detractors.

    So: For this situation, NYT isn’t out of bounds repeating actual disturbing Rush quotes. Sloppy journalism that half the quotes are not credibly attributable to Rush.

    I wish Rush all the best in his personal health. Probably naive, but I’ll hope that confronting cancer gives him respect people particularly those facing serious illness, regardless of ethnicity or views. [Keep hope alive!]

    1. For years, Limbaugh took a throw-the-book-at-’em approach to drug users. Then, he developed a stone-cold opiate addiction of his own (getting caught with trafficking-weight quantities). He sought sympathy and understanding for himself, but it never seemed to extend to other addicts. Plus, he didn’t mind avoiding charges on the type of “legal technicality” that he’d frequently railed against as a tough law-and-order man.

      And a funny thing happened not long after he beat that rap. He was busted coming through US customs with a bottle of Viagra that gad not been prescribed to him. Odd that Rush was coming back at the time from a vacation taken without his wife (or any other female companion) to the Dominican Republic, a popular destination for sexual tourism.

  53. Sorry, Jerry:

    I hope, fervently but unrealistically, that not even one person anywhere in future dies an extremely awful painful death.

    It won’t happen, and I’m quite ready to state publicly that I’d prefer it if one such unfortunate person were to be replaced by Limbaugh. Not one iota of sympathy will emanate from me. I’m quite content to say it while he’s still alive. Making your money by what he does is not that much better than being the Auschwitz commandant.

    I’d say the same about Rupert Murdoch and Drumpf.

    Perhaps my over-the-top reference to the Nazis comes from these three being in my own generation, but I’m afraid that’s exactly how I feel, quite independently of any medal of honour or whatever it was.

    I’ll ignore any criticism of this not taking account of the first paragraph above.

  54. Of course, if Limbaugh’s announcement of his lung cancer is as veracious as his other pronouncements, he might be around for a long time yet. Regrettably.

    After all, he might be exaggerating it as much as he claimed Michael J Fox to be exaggerating his Parkinsons. Why should anybody believe anything Limbaugh or his buddy tRump says?

    Of course Limbaugh can prove me wrong by doing one simple thing. It would be invidious to express any desire to be proved wrong so I won’t.


  55. There is a certain karma to Limbaugh’s lung cancer. For years on his program he denied any connection between smoking and lung cancer and attacked researchers for spreading “fake news.”

    “I’ve never seen cause of death: Tobacco products. Not everybody who smokes gets cancer. The most shocking event in the world is when somebody gets lung cancer and they never smoked, and everybody says, ‘How the hell did that happen?’ Because everybody’s been so persuaded to believe that it’s automatic.”

    Apparently he is too stupid to know about statistical risk.

    1. “I’ve never seen cause of death: Tobacco products. Not everybody who smokes gets cancer. The most shocking event in the world is when somebody gets lung cancer and they never smoked, and everybody says, ‘How the hell did that happen?’ Because everybody’s been so persuaded to believe that it’s automatic.”

      Wow, I never heard that stuff (wasn’t exposed to much Rush), but think how utterly immoral it is to broadcast that toxic propaganda to millions of people. He was proactively harming his own audience with that misinformation.

  56. Rush Limbaugh courted the hatred of everyone to the left of the Nazi party for his entire odious career. Your sympathy for his wife (she’s number 4, if I recall) is wasted. If she married a piece of human garbage like Rush, she is likely of the same mind.

    Trump pinned the Medal of Freedom on Limbaugh precisely to stick it to Democrats. I doubt Trump has any genuine affection for anyone he knows, other than himself – just look at the humiliation he has subjected the former members of his administration to when he no longer has any use for them.

    I just don’t see that the New York Times hurt anyone here. The “victims” – Rush and his wife, I guess – have no more regard for the opinion of the people they’ve hated their entire lives than lynch mob has for the families of the people they’re lynching.

    1. Thanks for telling me that my sympathy for his wife is “wasted.” I consider that a remarkably uncharitable comment towards both me and his wife. I feel what I feel, and so I don’t think anything is wasted

      1. I apologize for seeming uncharitable towards you. That was not my intent, and I do regret that you took my comment that way. I should probably hold you in high esteem for having sympathy even for such a cruel man – I confess that I can’t summon much for him. Perhaps I did not express my meaning and should have said that Rush himself likely doesn’t care about your sympathy and it falls on deaf ears.

        I do find your distinction between Hitchens’s insult in the aftermath of Falwell’s death and the and the NYT’s presumably accurate reprinting of odious things Rush Limbaugh has said to be puzzling. I don’t see how the NYT has been cruel to Limbaugh’s wife if Hitchens wasn’t equally cruel to Falwell’s. (Once Falwell was dead, her feelings ended?) As for the feelings of Rush himself, as at least one commenter above has noted, Rush is probably proud of the poison he has spouted over the years. The NYT said nothing about matchbox-sized remains and enemas.

  57. I lost a wife to ovarian cancer. I now what it’s like to lose someone to that disease. She did nothing to bring it on as far the physicians knew. These days there are lawsuits being brought against talcum powder products that have traces of toxic substance in them. That said, I find it fair game to call Limbaugh to account for flaunting his supposedly superior ideology and attitudes about smoking only to succumb to its effects. I wrote this: https://medium.com/@christophercudworth/the-cancer-of-rush-limbaugh-6a4ba4835978

    1. Good essay. Ovarian cancer is something I absolutely fear because there is no reliable way to detect it before it is already in late stages. It’s strongly hormone fed of course as we seem cursed with hormones as women. We need them, we’re miserable without them but they also play a part in killing us sometimes.

  58. Quoting Limbaugh is informative.
    I hope every lung cancer gets cured and wish they had not gotten sick. That includes him.

  59. He got the nation’s highest civilian award for saying things on radio. If you disagree that he deserves an award for that, quoting what he said on the air is more than fair.
    The editorial is a reaction to the highest honor bestowed on him by the US. That’s why quoting him is a fine thing to do.

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