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  • Writer's pictureMats Paulsen

He “saved” the media by not asking questions

The most successful host of a radio talk-show in the US rarely asked questions. If he asked, he would answer himself. Rush Limbaugh is said to have changed the media forever. Conservatives say he saved it. Liberals say he destroyed it.

What are the similarities between the Democratic party and the Nazi party?, Rush Limbaugh rhetorically asks.

Rush Limbaugh has been broadcasting on 600 local radio stations reaching up to 20 million Americans every day – in three decades. He passed away in late February. “…few Americans have left as big a mark on politics, media and culture as Rush Limbaugh”, writes the New York Times. I think I happen to be saying what a whole lot of people think but don´t have a chance to say themselves. That’s why they call me the most dangerous man in America”, said Rush Limbaugh. He gave himself the title “The doctor of democracy.” Day by day Rush Limbaugh spread the notion that conflict, not compromise, is the way to run the country. Commentators call it Limbaughization of politics. Never compromise, never work across the aisle. A communication logic that creates engagement and thereby reach in both traditional and social media.

Reagan opened the floor for Limbaugh

Limbaugh is a forerunner. He started his daily radio shows 29 years before Donald Trump came to power. The opening came in 1987 when Ronald Reagan abolished the fairness doctrine that had regulated honesty, impartiality and balance in broadcast media since 1949.

Limbaugh’s shows were anti. Anti-immigration, anti-climate change policy, anti-liberalism, anti-feminism, anti-abortion, anti-public healthcare, anti-media, anti-Bill Clinton, anti-Barack Obama, anti-Hillary Clinton, and so on. Provocation was his hallmark. Like defending the right to use the n-word, naming successful women “femi-Nazi” and questioning whether Barack Obama was born in the US.

No open questions asked. No room for opposing views. Limbaugh always right, “they” always wrong. It was a success. Rush Limbaugh opened up a conservative talk-genre. His style of broadcasting is now dominating the radio market in the US. Nine of 20 talk-shows in America are “conservative talk”, reaching an audience of 88 million listeners daily, according to trade press.

He inspired Fox News

According to talk-show star Sean Hannity at Fox News, the network was inspired by the Limbaugh’s style of attacking and raw political commentary. Fox News is the most successful broadcaster in the US the last decade.

Limbaugh was awarded with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020.

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