Limbaugh’s New Racism – OpEd


For some years, several times a week, while driving to do errands, I listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. Pretty much all the time, I become angered because every few sentences I realize that with his total sincerity and conviction, he was stating absolutely incorrect things. Adding to the endlessly wrong information are complete lapses in logic, which causes me to be bewildered that Limbaugh has reached such success.

My only explanation is that he appeals to a very large number of ignorant and unintelligent people who, like religious zealots, remain enraptured by his ultra-ring wing rhetoric. What a surprise, therefore, that Limbaugh has recently been speaking out relentlessly about “information poor” Americans as his pseudo brilliant explanation on why President Obama has succeeded.

Clearly, he refuses to face the reality that it is his incredibly loyal audience that must be information poor to readily accept all the falsehoods he dishes out daily.

Here are just two simple examples of intentional misinformation and disinformation he has dispensed similiar the proverbial Kool-Aid keeping his listeners doped up. He recently was admonishing President Obama for doing terrible things or not doing the right things and in his routinely glib, smooth style, spoke about the five years of Obama’s presidency. This happened just 10 percent into Obama’s second term, in other words some weeks and less than the full fifth year of the Obama presidency. How could an honest, fair person so easily state to his vast audience that there had already been five years of Obama as president? And yet, that is what Limbaughsaid. I quickly realized that this specific event was just part of the normal design of the ludicrous Limbaugh rhetoric, actually propaganda, designed to maintain the conservative idiocy of his loyal audience.

And then today, I heard Limbaugh refer to the settlement of Minnesota by the Vikings. As usual, I shook my head in disbelief. I could not imagine how the Vikings had managed to get so far inland when they had hit North America around the year 1000. So when I got home I did some easy research on the web and, of course, verified that I was correct to disbelieve what Limbaugh said. The Vikings discovered Eastern Canada, not what is today, Minnesota. But like everything else Limbaugh mutters, he conveys a complete sense of honesty, correctness and conviction, despite being totally wrong. Does Limbaugh connect the Minnesota Vikings to historical fact? Perhaps he has learned from many years of astounding radio success that he can say just about anything and get away with it.

Now for my major point about information poor people that he talks about endlessly, Limbaugh has shown semantic creativity in expressing racist thinking. When he uses the presence of many millions of information poor Americans to explain President Obama and the democratic successes, he has devised yet another way to attack African Americans and Hispanic Americans that, indeed, are demographic realities causing the failure of Romney and other Republicans. Moreover, it is also apparent that Limbaugh does not appeal to the poorest Americans who he routinely condemns for living off of government handouts.

I suspect that if there were good data about the demographics of the Limbaugh audience they would reveal, like those voting for Romney, that it consists mostly of older, higher income white American men. Well, it turns out there is some decent information.

As to the listeners of Limbaugh’s daily radio show, according to a 2008 news media consumption survey conducted by PewResearch, 72 percent are male and 80 percent are conservative. About three-quarters of his listeners identify themselves as Tea Partiers and Christian Conservatives. In other words, Limbaugh does not change the thinking of people, he appeals to a mindset and gives those people exactly what they like.

Another source says his audience is 95 percent white and two-thirds earn more than $60,000 a year with the majority earning over $100,000 a year. In other words, not only is his audience mostly white men, they are also in the upper parts of the economic spectrum. (I suspect mostly small business types who may have learned how to make money, but nevertheless are quite ignorant and prejudiced.)

As to his website, according to (as of March 3, 2012), the vast majority of visitors to are aging white males: 54 percent of who are the age of 45 or older, with 28 percent that are 55 and older and 91 percent are Caucasian.

So, here is a radio god whose success depends on having information poor people as addicted listeners and uses the same concept to condemn those minority Americans Limbaugh aggressively blames for the ruin of the nation because of their democratic vote. And, of course with his male dominated audience, he’s proved himself to be rude, worse toward women, another demographic that Republicans have lost.

It is time for people, especially decent Republicans, to condemn wacko Limbaugh for all of his many failures, especially his new attempt to mask racism with the cloak of information deficits. If Republicans ever want to appeal to a broad cross section of Americans, they should have the courage to disown and openly condemn the appalling strategy of bloviate Limbaugh, who caters to the most stupid and biased Americans. They may, indeed, be seen as the core constituency of the Republican Party, but they are the heavy anchor pulling it down.

Interestingly, among Republicans, only 13 percent say they tune into Limbaugh “regularly.” So it’s time to dump Limbaugh.

Joel S. Hirschhorn

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy – Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.

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