Looking for the Left’s Limbaugh

Looking for the Left’s Limbaugh

The right dominates talk radio; the left has been singularly unsuccessful in this medium. Does it have to be that way? Rush
Limbaugh is on the radio three hours a day (noon to three in the Eastern Time zone), five days a week, on 648 stations with an estimated
audience of twenty million people who hear him at least once a week; he claims that more than four million are listening at any given
moment. Most of Limbaugh’s listeners are white males—aggressive and resentful. His raucous, loudmouthed, bullying style expresses their anger and gives form to their inchoate resentments: the source of their problems is not insecurity about their future in a precarious job
market—it is Hillary Clinton and the dopesmoking, counterculture-infested liberal press. He manages to make this unlikely argument
sound convincing by mobilizing the magic of the medium, a task the left has somehow failed to master.

Listening to Rush in December, I found that male bonding occupies a significant place on his program. One Monday morning Rush
began the show, “Hey, how about those Pittsburgh Steelers? . . . I haven’t been this up in ten years, other than my wedding day.”

Among the other qualities contributing to Limbaugh’s success, meanness is at the top of the list: “Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat,” he said on his television show in 1993. “Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?” Then he
put up a picture of thirteen-year-old Chelsea Clinton. He does a lot of demagogic namecalling, ridiculing his opponents as “environmental
wackos,” “feminazis,” “long-haired maggot-infested dope-smoking peace pansies,” and “the spaced-out Hollywood left.”

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima