by Roland Lindsey
I started listening to Rush Limbaugh in the summer of 1992. I was a 20 year-old conservative, and I found him witty, entertaining, and logical. At the time, he was working hard on his program to defeat the election of Bill Clinton. I even subscribed to the American Spectator, which was heavily advertised on his show. Later, the former editor-in-chief of AS would talk about all the things they made up about the Clintons in their magazine, but at the time it seemed like Gen X had a Watergate to experience. The problem existed: It wasn't true.
Rush has turned up the volume over the years, but I've always tuned back into his show. I did take a hiatus during the whole Michael J. Fox debacle. I remember driving in my car to downtown Seattle, and listening to Rush's non-apology for his harsh criticism the day before. When Rush offers a non-apology, it means he expands on the original statement or comment, and finds ways to make it even more offensive.
At some point, listening to him make fun of Michael J. Fox made me sick to my stomach, and I said out loud, "Screw you, Rush." I turned him off, and didn't listen again for a year.
I tuned into Limbaugh this morning on the way to work. I was shocked to hear deliberate lies coming out of the radio, and not only that, he accused the Obama Administration of lying about the same thing. It sickened me. I realized that those who go to Rush for their single source of news and commentary are being led to believe deliberate falsehoods. And when Rush is dead wrong about these things, you never hear a correction or retraction. It doesn't matter to him, so it doesn't matter to his listeners. Here's some of what I heard this morning.
"This is about Obama saying there is no euthanasia in his plan. What people have said is there is, there's end of life counselling. Mandatory end of life counselling in the House healthcare bill." - Rush Limbaugh, 8/10/2009
This is patently false. There is no mandatory counseling of any sort in the House bill. I've read the section. Luna has read the section. Limbaugh is making this up. There is a section on page 425 that allows a Medicare subscriber the option to have a counselor come to visit them and help them create a living will, if they want it. This is a benefit, not "mandatory end of life counseling."
"Obama's even saying there's no euthanasia in the plan and there's no cutbacks in Medicare. What plan, Mr. President? You haven't presented a plan. How can you tell us what is or isn't in the plan when you don't have one? All we've got to go on is the house plan and it's all there. This is mind-boggling stuff. They deny what's there. They deny what's in it." - Rush Limbaugh, 8/10/2009
Euthanasia is not in the House bill. You can read it. Luna has, and you can read her detailed thoughts in her excellent piece here. But Limbaugh continually says it and then claims Obama is lying about it. Americans aren't stupid. They simply trust someone who will lie to them.
What is Limbaugh's motivation here? As Limbaugh said back in 1992, "Follow the money." He doesn't get any money from Health Care lobbies. But he does get money from making incendiary and untrue statements. It makes more people tune into him, which turns into advertising revenue. There have been many things he's said that are completely untrue. He said that Obama didn't have a birth certificate. National Review flawlessly debunked that here. He has called the House bill "Government-run Health Care", "Socialist Health Care", and other things when it is really nothing of the sort. He has claimed that the good idea to put together a health database comparing treatments and outcomes is actually going to be used to ration care.
He claims any number of things as fact, when in fact, they are nothing of the sort. And those who use him as their single source of information are led to protest against their own interests, and vote against their own interests.
Thomas Jefferson said: “Knowledge is like a candle. When you light your candle from mine, my light is not diminished. It is enhanced and a larger room is enlightened as a consequence.” A proper quotation updated to Rush Limbaugh's practice in 2009 is "Misinformation is like a candle. When you light your candle from mine, my light is not diminished. It is enhanced and a larger room is misinformed as a consequence."