I Can’t Believe I’m Siding With Rush Limbaugh

A few days ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke to the Huffington Post about presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than a year’s tax returns and a call Reid claimed to have received from a Bain Capital investor.

“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.

“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?

Reid is taking advantage of Romney’s refusal to release, but this is bull! As Jon Stewart pointed out last night, if you have to say “Now, do I know that that’s true,” it’s not true.

Today Rush Limbaugh piled on. There’s a small chorus of conservatives who’ve been calling on Preident Obama to release his college transcripts. Maybe he said he’s Kenyan? Maybe he had awful grades? Maybe… who knows. The president refuses.

“Somebody, I don’t know, said they went to school with Barack Obama at Harvard,” said Limbaugh. “And the guy told me that Obama got the lowest grades that any Harvard graduate ever got and that a bunch of professors gave him B’s and C’s when he didn’t even show up to class.”

Limbaugh said that the source hung up right after relating this information.

“Now, this guy from Harvard said lowest grades anybody ever got at Harvard and professors covered for him when he wasn’t even there,” Limbaugh continued. He said that he asked the source if there was any proof that could confirm the charge, but he was told that there was none.

“So, I am calling on Barack Obama to release his Harvard transcripts,” said Limbaugh. “Based on this – I got a call.”

“I don’t have to prove anything here,” Limbaugh continued. “The burden is on Obama. He’s the one that I’ve alleged got the worst grades in the history of Harvard.”

Touche! If Reid can say what he’s saying then Limbaugh can certainly do the same. It pains me, but what’s fair is fair.

I really don’t care about President Obama’s transcripts, but as I’ve blogged before I do want to see Governor Romney’s tax forms. I hope Harry Reid hasn’t made that less likely.

Rush Needs A McGovern Moment

If Rush had said something once, maybe. That’s not what happened. He slammed her for three consecutive days.

I have been on radio or TV all of my adult life. I have said my share of stupid regrettable things on-the-air. As far as I remember they were all inadvertent. I don’t believe that was the case with Rush Limbaugh though he has apologized for his mistreatment of Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student he called a slut and prostitute and from whom he requested sex tapes!

“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”

This was not a case of bad word choice. If Rush had said something once… maybe. That’s not what happened. He slammed Ms. Fluke for three consecutive days.

Under any circumstances it’s tough to understand how calling someone a slut and prostitute could be anything but a personal attack!

Rush is just part of the plague eating away at the Republican Party. This weekend on Meet the Press GOP strategist Mike Murphy lamented the troubles Republicans were seeing after our scorched earth primary season and some very loud, very socially conservative rhetoric.

On behalf of the Republican establishment, it’s about damn time because we want this thing to get over because we see those independent voters eroding as we scare the hell out of them with the histrionics of our primary.

Maybe it’s best for the Republicans to suffer the same fate Mitt Romney proposed for homeowners about to face foreclosure with underwater mortgages.

Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up. Let it turn around and come back up.

Here’s my tough love prescription. Republicans need to hit bottom as the Democrats did with George McGovern in 1972 (Nixon carried 49 states, McGovern carried Massachusetts and D.C.). They cannot exist as a mainstream party if they’re going to exist so far right of the mainstream.

I have many conservative friends some of whom read this blog. I am suggesting this for your own good.

Yes, America is loaded with conservatives. They’re just not that conservative!

As for Rush, his website this evening features an entry titled: “Don’t Worry, Folks: Advertisers Who Don’t Want Your Business Will Be Replaced.” He needs a McGovern moment too.

Local Radio Is Dead And I Am Sad

Radio isn’t fun any more. Radio doesn’t have larger than life personalities any more. And, rapidly, radio isn’t local any more.

When I was a kid I loved radio–listened to it intently. I wanted to be on radio and once college told me I was through being educated radio is just what I did.

Radio was everything I expected it to be and I loved it. Sure I fought with my bosses (Peter–I’m talking about you among others) and even got myself fired a few times, but radio was satisfying.

Doing mornings at WPEN is probably my all-time favorite job. I was given reasonably free rein and had a great time. I’d do it a little differently today, but I have no regrets.

I fell in love with radio because of the people I listened to on radio. They were smart, often witty and funny. I listened to Brucie and Dan Ingram on WABC and Gary Stevens on WMCA. Jean Shepard talked to himself for 45 minutes a night on WOR and I never missed him.

My favorite station was WKBW in Buffalo. I couldn’t hear it until the Sun set. I was a member of Joey Reynold’s “Royal Order of the Night People” and listened to Danny Nevereth, Bud Ballou and Sandy Beach. Rod Roddy, who later became the announcer on “The Price is Right” did overnights on KB–and I listened.

Radio was full service back then. Even stations ‘for kids’ had hourly newscasts. It was tough to be an uninformed teen. That’s much easier today.

Radio isn’t fun to listen to any more. Radio doesn’t have larger than life personalities any more. Radio isn’t local any more. What was local is evaporating rapidly.

The radio stations I listened to created a community. There is no more community. I can’t see anyone loving radio the way I loved radio… the way some of my friends loved radio. There is little to love.

Today Clear Channel Communications announced they were cutting another 600 jobs. They cut nearly 2,000 back in January. Local people are being hatcheted and replaced with nationally syndicated shows. Local people used to talk about local things in the time slots now devoted to Ryan Seacrest, Billy Bush, John Tesh and Rush Limbaugh.

R&R has a list of some of those let go. It’s sad to see. Lots of 10 and 20 years veterans. Lots of people whose shows were getting good numbers.

Helaine often says when TV is through with me maybe I should go back into radio. I don’t think there will be any radio left.

I am saddened.

Is Rush Worth It?


In screaming headlines, Matt Drudge reports Rush Limbaugh has signed a deal for $400-million through 2016. On set during a commercial one of my colleagues asked if he could possibly be worth that much cash? Of course. I have no doubt there are calculations that have been double and triple checked which support this commitment.

Make no mistake, I am not endorsing Rush Limbaugh. Nearly five years ago I took issue with his life in general.

Like it or not he is very effective at attracting attention and an audience. Whether he totally understands what he’s doing or is just lucky he brings people into his bosses store. Value in radio (as in TV) is aggregating an audience.

With continued media fragmentation the Rush Limbaugh’s of our world take on additional value. Their mere presence transcends the value of what they’re saying.

No Perfect Example

I wanted to write something about the Imus case, but after reading my own words, realized they were just too inflammatory. It is a volatile topic – there’s no way around that.

My question is, should the treatment of Imus become the standard for all public misogynists and racists?

Back when I was hosting PM Magazine, I quickly learned, you can never find the perfect example for your story – never. Is the Imus case the perfect example of how punishment should be meted? Is Imus the perfect example of the new value of apologies?

There are already people using Imus as an example to call for the heads of such diverse figures as Rush Limbaugh and Jesse Jackson. Could there be two more dissimilar people?

Is Imus’ expulsion from the airwaves the beginning of the healing or the beginning of a bitter battle?