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Rush Limbaugh, the Rams and My Reader Outrage

By Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D. at Psychology Today

Many of you have submitted heart- (and spleen-) felt comments that chided me for my education, my profession, my liberal-minded desecration of the hallowed character and reputation of Rush Limbaugh, and for not providing verifiable references to the few quotes and allegations contained in my previous blog on the tempest called Rush and the Rams.

Admittedly, most quotes and charges I included came from secondary sources; that can be a problem when criticizing political icons like Rush. And probably some lazy journalism on my part. I went with the sources I found and blew off the absences of sources when I couldn’t find them. My bad.

To be totally truthful, though, it’s not all that easy to get properly referenced or vetted quotes of Rush. He is not a columnist; he talks rather that writes. Worse, many YouTube videos of his radio talk show and of appearances in other venues have been removed from YouTube ostensibly because of ownership or copyright violation — except for those which he apparently finds in sync with his desired public image preferences.

The trouble with what people say vs. what they write is that spoken words are more subjectively “interpretable” and frequently are in a context that, if fully presented, is too long or expansive to be fully included in a direct quote, such as Rush repeatedly playing the song Barack the Magic Negro, regardless of who first used it.  As a result, much that is said about people like Rush, who speak electronically rather than in print, is often open to the charge of being taken out of context, misrepresented, inaccurate, or just plain lies. To the bargain, accessing transcriptions of radio shows involve more tedious and complex enterprises than accessing videotapes of talk radio or TV talk shows like, say, Glenn Beck’s on FoxyNews.

As an example, rarely do you get self-contractions and denials of charges of racism like you had with clips of Glenn Beck on his FoxNews show clearly calling Obama a racist. But then, a scarce few minutes later in the same clip, Beck denies that he said it. Ordinarily, documenting such Beckian lounge lizarding in lying, or swimming the river Denial is not easy. Thank you, Glenn.

Actually, though, truth has never been one of Beck’s strong suits. He feels encumbered by it. We understand, Glenn. That’s why your tears are so important. Here, Beck’s own patriotism has brought him to tears.

 

Limbaugh is a bit more careful than Beck in being pinned down on what are arguably racist statements, a bit lighter on his feet. Here’s the sticky wicket, however. If you make enough of them, these “ambiguous” or “easily misinterpretable” comments or quips, over long enough periods, across enough media, a trail begins to crystallize. Your past mouthings begin to run with you, stick with you, and burden you, with the weight of truth.

Today, almost every televised or radio utterance is archived by people who are supernaturally skillful in ferreting out accessing and sculpting into embarrassing video pieces all records of your words, deeds, – like, say, the folks at The Daily Show or over at producer-director Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV4eMNpW0oc.

In other words, you can spin, Rush, but you can’t hide.

With such “gotcha” tape assemblies catching for all to see a person’s twists and turns and reversals across space and time and venues, it’s hard to deny the trend or pattern that emerges. Such is the case with Limbaugh. His broadcast droppings are redolent spoors good hunters pick up on, track down and finally hang on their own broadcast walls, trophies of “the good hunt.”

As for Limbaugh’s veracity or “truth in advertising, of which some of you cast broad accusations of lies and calumnies,” please go to http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1861.

You should also go to http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2549 to find corroboration for the charge that Limbaugh says things on the air which often have little to do with reality or are simply prejudicial utterances, bigoted bon mots. While such mocking, derisive comments will undoubtedly please his audience of true believers, others in his peripheral field of rhetoric may be less responsive and will await a chance to later impale him on such words. The St. Louis Rams gambit is apparently such a time.

In this blog I seek offer you the corroborating evidence of the sort you decried as being absent in my earlier blog. But evidence is slippery. It is often only accepted as evidence if we are fearlessly interested in evidence, even if that evidence contradicts what we want to believe, as, e.g., that President Obama was not born in the U.S. and is not therefore entitled to be president.

If we do not want to change our beliefs, if it pleases us to believe things because to believe is to feel safe, justified, sure of our models of realty and how reality works. (e.g., democrat sponsored health reform legislation contains “death panels”), disconfirming evidence is hard to find, hard to believe, maybe even too costly to our belief systems about politics, religion, and the American Way.

For many of these same people, it’s easier to hold onto the rumor that Obama really is a closet Muslim jihadist whose election is paving the way to turning America’s into a Socialist, Islamo-Fascist Theocracy.

Proof? ” I don’t need any more proof than I have. If Rush or Glenn or Sean say it, that’s evidence enough. They can be trusted. I believe them!”

How mercurial evidence can be. What’s that old saw about the eye of the beholder?

But, for the moment the Rush-Rams sturm und drang has abated, the drama cut short. As many of you readers already know by now, the NFL has dropkicked Rush right out of ownership contention.

According to the NFL public comments, Rush was in fact eliminated BECAUSE of the furor his prospective joint ownership raised and BECAUSE of his verifiable record of divisive and racially insensitive comments, not just about Blacks, but other minorities as well, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYXpvj1AW9c&feature=channel.

Further, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed what many (present company excepted, of course) already felt: Commissioner says ‘divisive comments’ have no place in the NFL.

Baltimore Colts owner, Jim Irsay was quite explicit on the matter: “I myself couldn’t even think of voting for him,” he told PFT’s Tom Curran at the NFL’s owners meetings in Boston.

Limbaugh’s provocative radio opinions, while pleasing some, and making him a multi-millionaire with an 8-year, $400, 000,000 contract with Clear Channel, found, perhaps, the limits of his reach when he ran up against those NFL owners who saw him as a threat to their pocketbooks and/or to their sense of ethics or morality. These are men, by the way, who are not your flaming, liberal band of brothers. They were good old American businessmen.

As we saw these past few days, in this multi-media, mediated, media-saturated world, sometimes racially insensitive or simply racist rhetoric comes back to bite with real consequences. And, pardon my subdued gloat, what better consequence in the U.S. than one affecting power and money, in this instance, Rush Limbaugh’s.

But there are battles and there are games. Rush, still the darling of his conservative fan base and of the GOP and its core constituents, will not disappear. Indeed, he may try again for some sports or major media franchise. Someday he may succeed if he maintains the power of the microphone and his bully (literally) pulpit. He is a force not to be underestimated.

I will worry when that happens. But at least now I know that there is a movement out there in the new media that will vigorously, creatively and effectively stand up to him, and to the Becks and O’Reillys the Hannitys and Savages creatures of what is often decried by their supporters as “the liberal media.” I know that true because I heard it on FoxyNews.