As a rule of thumb, it is a given that comics tell the truth to power more often than most journalists.
To get irrefutable proof of this axiom, one must look no further than the way in which, for decades, intelligent and irreverent comedians – unconstrained by convention or propriety – have repeatedly taken the ‘boy of’. poster for US ‘contraception and rancid right-wing radio, Rush Limbaugh, at the stake, rhetorically speaking.
While much of the establishment media regularly touted Limbaugh’s “iconic” status and “undeniable talents” as an “entertaining” broadcaster who transformed the American cultural and political landscape, comics like George Carlin luckily, were decidedly less impressed.
This is how Carlin once described the stogie-toting Limbaugh and his equally foul-smelling “conservative” minions who pollute America’s airwaves: “Haven’t we had enough of this cigar-smoking shit in this country?” When is this going to end? When is this shit going to go away? When do these bold, arrogant, overpaid, overfed, overprivileged, overworked and white-collar business criminals[s] … Will they put out their cigars and move on to their next abomination?
Sadly, Carlin didn’t live to see “the abomination” put out his last cigar last week. If he had, I’m sure he would have responded to the myriad of sanitized obituaries marking Limbaugh’s death posted by ever-respectful establishment media outlets with their scathing humor.
Instead of pointing out Limbaugh’s addiction to ignorance and hatred, reporters shared the usual palette of polished and palpable bromides which, taken together, constitute a prima facie case of the establishment media’s stubborn penchant for rewriting the story rather than telling the truth.
The irony, of course, is that many scribes who praise Limbaugh’s disgusting work fruitlessly for Limbaugh’s loathsome legacy to large and powerful news agencies that have been insisting publicly in recent times – with varying degrees of sincerity – for having gone through a defining editorial epiphany that apparently compels them now. to call a lie when they are faced with a lie.
Today, the tired euphemisms they once regularly employed to cover up the truth are meant to be seen as a sad, almost irresponsible relic of the pre-Donald Trump era, when “civility” trumped the franchise (game of words).
Sadly, the establishment media returned, as might be expected, to an old and courteous form, when the memory of a vile and crass crook demanded a copious and cleansing dose of Carlin’s honesty.
Exhibit A: The Washington Post
The newspaper which claims on its masthead that “democracy dies in darkness” published an unbearably long hagiography of Limbaugh which suggests that a few journalists and editors of the Post remain in the dark where, beyond democracy , the truth dies.
Here is the lead line from the Alternate Universe of The Post’s flattering obit: “Rush Limbaugh, who deployed a comedy bomb and relentless smear of liberals, feminists, and environmentalists to become the most popular radio host. popular nation and leading the Republican Party in a policy of anger and obstruction, died on February 17 at the age of 70.
The phrase “racist charlatan” does not appear in the Post’s 3,102-word revisionist dispatch on the life of Limbaugh. Rather, Limbaugh is called a “provocative” and “bad boy,” confirming that the use of pleasant euphemisms is still sanctioned by the press room allegedly allergic to the Post’s lie.
Yet buried within the Post’s pleasant portrayal of “The Elvis of Radio” is a fleeting reference to Limbaugh’s wacky tale of hate rhetoric and misogyny.
“[Limbaugh] lost advertisers after an incident in 2012 in which he called Georgetown University law school student Sandra Fluke a “slut” because she testified in Congress on behalf of mandatory coverage of contraception in health insurance policies, ”the Post wrote.
At the time, the so concise and fearless provocateur faced the revolt of the advertisers and apologized. It was left to another truly comedic and provocative, Stephen Colbert, then right-wing “correspondent” of the Colbert satirical report, to make clear the full and foul measure of a tyrant with a wireless pulpit.
“My friends, I don’t think Rush should have apologized for calling her a prostitute. I mean, it takes one to know one. And, remember, he just apologized for keeping his advertisers, proving that Rush will do anything with his mouth for money, ”Colbert said in his character.
Exhibit B: The Associated Press
In its flattering obit, the Associated Press (AP) press service was determined not to be outdone by the Post in providing readers with a gooey and largely flawless account of the ugly and pockets of Limbaugh, an obscure disc jockey with notorious hatred. -seller of.
Like the Post, the AP mostly omitted any mention of Limbaugh’s bad habit of not only hitting, but stomping – with his foul mouth – the sick, the poor and the helpless with the glee of a sociopath of the interior of his studio which has become a comfortable man’s cave. .
Limbaugh was a rich and sick thug.
However, this is how the PA remembered him: “Unswervingly conservative, wildly partisan, self-promoting and larger than life, Limbaugh galvanized listeners for over 30 years with his knack for sarcastic commentary. and insulting.
So, according to the AP, Limbaugh was a big, funny “unifier”, not a “divider”.
Thankfully, the Wanda Sykes comic not only understood but pierced the rogue nature of Limbaugh shrouded in the establishment media-pleasing Imprimatur of the so-called “sarcastic and insulted comment” and sent it back to the jubilant jerk.
“Rush Limbaugh said he hopes [Obama’s] administration fails. So you say, “I hope America fails.” You say, “I don’t care if people lose their homes, their jobs”… I hope the country fails? Hope his kidneys are failing, how about that? He needs a good waterboard. This is what he needs, ”Sykes told reporters assembled at the 2009 White House Correspondents Association dinner.
Exhibit C: Reuters
The Reuters news agency, unsurprisingly, joined his colleagues in the PA press service in writing a saccharin-based article on Limbaugh that had more in common with the biographical bumph of the back of the book than the truth.
It turns out that Limbaugh was “a provocative and polarizing American radio star” and “a dominant voice on the American political right.”
Think Barry Goldwater with pizzazz.
Forgotten by Reuters, these were the days when the “dominant voice of the American right” declared that climate change “is nothing but a bunch of computer models trying to tell us what’s to come.” pass in 50 years ”or that whiny“ millennials ”should stop complaining about the catastrophic and irreversible effect of climate change and adapt to it like a group of mid-19th century American pioneers who turned to cannibalism to survive.
Late night show host Seth Myers happily noted Limbaugh’s latest spasm of madness (I’m sorry, provocative).
“Finally, Republicans have found a message to run on: Trump 2020. Your neighbors are delicious. This psychopath [Limbaugh] … Obtained a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Next time we listen to his show, he’ll probably eat it up, ”Meyers joked.
Finally, I must address the idea that Limbaugh “galvanized” the American right.
Note to media from the amnesia facility: you are using the wrong verb. Limbaugh did not “galvanize” the right; he radicalized it by peddling lies, slander and fanatic conspiracy theories for three hours, five days a week for over 30 years.
He has infected and indoctrinated millions of Americans, many of whom – no doubt attracted by his refined stupidity – decided, en masse, to attack Capitol Hill in early January.
George Carlin had a joke for that too: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.