Limbaugh—who fans affectionately called Rush (or “El Rushbo”)—pioneered the conservative talk-radio format. After the lifting of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine in 1987, radio and television no longer were required to present both or all sides of an issue being debated. That made it possible for entire programs to be dedicated to commentary tilted towards one political worldview or another.
Into that new media environment stepped Rush. He was the first of many to seize upon the idea of delivering withering attacks on the Left and Democrats through the format of a three-hour radio program.
What Rush did more effectively than anyone else was expose the sinister nature of the press’s inherent Leftism. At a time before the Internet was widespread and when most major national news was filtered through network television and a handful of newspapers, the press controlled the spread of information—and the narratives told. Rush possessed the keen insight to read between the lines and see what the press, the Democrats, and the rest of their ilk were up to, rhetorically and practically.
Much has been written the past couple of days about Rush’s impact and legacy. Nearly every conservative has their “coming-to-Limbaugh” story, recounting the first time they heard Rush, or how he gradually turned them conservative. It’s almost a quasi-religious experience for some.
I can’t remember the first time I heard Rush Limbaugh, but he was always there. I was likely in middle school when I first became aware of him, and of “conservatism” as a concept. I’ve always tended towards fringier commentators, but Rush is the Godfather of Conservative Talk-Radio. He was the anchor, the tent pole, the fixed point in the conservative media universe.
It’s unclear who will take Rush’s place, both as the host of his show—which can’t really exist without the Man Behind the Gold Mic—and within the conservative talk-radio cosmos. As to the latter, I sincerely hope EIB will offer Mark Steyn the chair.
Rush was truly irreplaceable. Fortunately, he spawned thousands of new commentators, and brought conservatism to the masses. His influence will exist far beyond his seventy years.
Rest in Peace, Rush.