An Infamous Polluter of the Airwaves Drops the Mic for Good
On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure are (virtually) dancing on Rush Limbaugh’s fresh-AF grave. They’d normally hesitate to speak ill of the dead, but “this is a special case,” says Toure. “This is different.”
Longtime right-wing talk radio host and implausible Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday after a long battle with being a decent human being. But his legacy is very much alive.
Limbaugh was an alt-right pioneer who is largely responsible for the Republican Party’s devolution toward hate-mongering, conspiracy theories and personal grievances.
Post-Trump administration, how can we hold his pundit-class progeny accountable for their inflammatory speech? And why is the news still full of white privilege run amok?
“Happy Rush Limbaugh Is Dead Day to you,” says Toure.
“To you, as well. I don't think we’ll go to hell for saying that,” Danielle replies.
Toure doesn’t, either, because Limbaugh “was racist, sexist, homophobic and one of the more horrible people over the past several decades. That it happened in Black History Month is apropos.”
That’s saying quite a bit considering what’s transpired in recent years.
“When Donald Trump dies, we will not be like, well, he tried his hardest,” Toure says. People like the ex-president and Rush Limbaugh “went out of their way to profit off the business of damaging the country by feeding the basest, most evil, most white-supremacist urges of white people.”
And because of their insensate greed, “they’ve made our lives more difficult on a day to day basis,” he adds. “I'll have no sympathy when the Grim Reaper comes and takes them away.”
Episode Highlights –– Happy Rush Is Dead Day
RIP, bulls****er of legend
Toure sees Limbaugh (and his ‘90s counterpart in Congress, Newt Gingrich) as responsible for “reshaping the Republican Party in its modern image: evil, fact-hating, conspiracy-loving, about the politics of personal destruction, the weaponization of government, the abject hatred of Democrats, pro-white male, anti-everybody else.”
There's a direct line between Limbaugh and Trumpism, he adds.
Limbaugh’s work “helped expand the right-wing media ecosphere, where you have to basically shout, in terms of having a crazier conspiracy theory than anyone else, to even be heard. Which ends up in the Big Lie and 1/6.”
Toure thinks the world is “absolutely a better place without him having a microphone to blast his lies and his bullshit to a gigantic audience.”
“He was a disgusting, piece of shit of a fucking human being,” says Danielle. “He didn't deserve to have a microphone.”
‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’
Danielle wonders what good the FCC rules and other agencies that monitor airwaves do, when Limbaugh spent years spreading vicious lies every day.
She’s particularly disgusted by the things he said about gay people –– that led to people's deaths.
“When people tweet that he was entertaining –– for fucking whom? Because there were kids who were having a shit beat out of them, who decided to hang themselves, because of the likes of the Rush Limbaughs of the world.”
We need to get real about the “actual residue that Rush Limbaugh left on our society for the last 30 years. The vitriol and violence caused because of it. The way in which he lambasted people of the Muslim faith post-911. The way in which he talked about women.”
She’s reminded of the saying “never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
“Every storyteller knows that,” Danielle says. “Fine, you can go on fucking radio for three hours. You can go on for three days if nobody’s fact-checking you.”
She thinks Rush Limbaugh essentially was the Republican political version of “Tales from the Crypt”: “It doesn't have to fucking make sense.”
“It must be nice to be a right-wing, political media figure and not have to worry about truth, or reality, or logic or history,” says Toure. “To just say whatever the fuck you want. On the right they don't care about shit like that.”
A while back when he had a midday commute, Toure used to listen to Rush Limbaugh somewhat regularly. He’d listen for about 30 minutes “just to hear what the other side was saying,” he explains.
The show was full of “straw-man, slippery-slope” arguments. Limbaugh had that “right-wing way of saying things that are completely untrue, making extrapolations that make no freaking sense –– here are two facts that have no causal relationship, but I'm going to draw one between them.”
And although Toure found the radio host’s politics “horrific,” Toure says that, if one could put those politics aside, Limbaugh was an extraordinary entertainer.
“He would go on the air every day for three hours with no guest host. No callers, for the most part. Very few interviews, little in the way of notes. And it was compelling. It had a thesis. It had a point of view. He was playing a character, though I don't mark any difference between that and who he really was.”
Rush and Trump: a match made in hell
Danielle is struck that the size of Limbaugh’s audience mirrors the tens of millions of people who voted for Donald Trump –– about 70 million people.
As a podcaster and a former radio host herself, she knows that someone must be talented in order to have tens of millions of followers.
“We have so many fucking choices of things to listen to,” she says. If 70 million people are tuning in to you every single day, you're doing something right. But in Rush Limbaugh's case, he wasn't –– he was adding to the hatred, the vitriol and the divisiveness in this country.”
To her, Limbaugh represents how someone “can have extraordinary talent, build an incredible platform, and yet be a horrible, terrible, evil human being.”
‘Foxy before Fox’
That such a heinous blowhard shaped public discourse for so long “just shows you how sick and twisted America really is,” says Danielle.
Speaking of sick and twisted, “it's apropos that the evil, ridiculous, incompetent moron President gave Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom,” says Toure –– “which is completely absurd and devalues that whole thing. But he was a Trump kind of guy.”
And of course, the kinds of people who love Trump “were raised on Rush and his ideas and his way of being,” he adds. “He was Foxy before Fox.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is planning a 9/11-style commission to investigate the insurrection on January 6.
“Do we need our tax dollars spent on a commission to tell me what the fuck I already know?” asks Danielle. “How about you invest in the power grid in Texas? Or the public school system, so we have HVACs so kids can go back to school and not die of COVID?”
But she does think some kind of accountability is necessary. And money talks: Fox News is being sued for billions of dollars by Dominion Voting Machines; perhaps the idea that they perpetuated the Big Lie will finally penetrate.
“No one did that with Rush Limbaugh,” she adds.
Central Park Karen goes to school
Somebody else we won't be crying for, even though she's not quite as evil as Rush Limbaugh: Amy Cooper, who was last seen in Central Park, calling 911 on a Black man who had the audacity to ask her to leash her dog.
“She was a white woman who needed her personal security force in blue to come as fast as they could, and maybe kill him,” says Toure. “She went to racial bias training.”
He wonders what the curriculum was –– “if they studied the Amy Cooper case in her racial bias training. They should have.”
Now that Cooper completed her class, the Manhattan prosecutor dropped the charges against her.
“Let's remember that Christian Cooper, the Black man who she attacked, and through the grace of God is not a hashtag and is still alive, decided he did not want her prosecuted,” says Danielle. “He didn't want to play any part in providing evidence that would hold her accountable. What the fuck is that?”
Toure thinks Christian is “showing much more grace, and sympathy and forgiveness than I think is right, than I could muster.”
A bitch and her dog reunited
Toure recognizes that “biases run deeper than we even know, which is what makes them so pernicious.”
He doesn't think we can separate Amy Cooper’s treatment from how a white woman's tears tend to bring others “running to her side to help.”
So when Cooper expresses even a modicum of remorse, the rest of the world thinks: She's okay. She's not threatening. She's suffered enough.
“Fuck that,” Toure says. “She tried to murder him.”
Danielle thinks “certain people are undeserving of grace” and that Cooper’s one of them.
“That bitch got her dog back. She damn near hung it from its fucking leash. But she gets the dog back. She gets off. Again, the only example we continue to set with our criminal unjust system is that white people will always get off.”
They can do whatever they want, she adds –– call the cops and lie, “shit in our Capitol Building … and ain't nothing fucking happening to you.”
A GoFundMe for a ‘serial killer’
We wonder why there's a pattern of bad behavior by Karens and QAnoners and everyone in between. It’s because “we keep treating these incidents as if they are siloed events, and they are fucking not,” says Danielle.
“How do you teach kids how not to touch a stove when it’s fucking hot? You say don't touch it, but they fucking touch it. They get burned. See the cause and effect there?”
But when “white people cause some bullshit” –– even when it leads to death and destruction –– “they get millions of dollars in a GoFundMe from white Christian evangelicals.”
That’s a dig on the folks who bankrolled a defense for Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who terrorized a Black Lives Matter protest last summer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Now, we’ve learned that Rittenhouse’s lawyer lied about his address and the judge overseeing his case couldn't find him. And he’s still out on bail even though he murdered two people.
“He's a premeditated serial killer,” says Toure. “He crossed state lines to go to a protest, got into some kind of altercation and shot and killed several people. The only difference between him and Dylann Roof is execution. Rittenhouse was stopped faster.”
Rittenhouse lived out “a specific right-wing fantasy they talk about in chat rooms,” Toure adds. “Going to protests and murdering people with guns, with cars, with trucks. There are memes about it. They think they’re fighting for liberation.”
Danielle thinks disgruntled white supremacists like Rittenhouse are “in a war of their own making.”
She’s tired of the constant headlines about white people getting away with murder.
“Let’s just put up a headline that says White Supremacy Wins Again and just reprint it every day, on every major news outlet. Let it be the fucking ticker at the bottom of the screen. Because that's all I see. Can we move on? What's today's weather?”
As if he heard Danielle’s idea, this week ex-NFL player Herschel Walker testified in Congress in a hearing about reparations.
“Why are you even talking? His argument is that it would cause racial division,” says Toure.
“Not that there is racial division because of slavery, segregation, decades of economic oppression and inequality, which leads to a massive wealth gap, which will never, ever be dealt with until we do some interventionist things like reparations.”
Restorative justice league
When Toure talks about reparations, he’s not only referring to the idea of reparations for America’s original sin of slavery.
Of course, there should be a reckoning around unofficial policies that were overtly, generationally damaging to neighborhoods and families (like redlining).
He also wants some kind of redress for the countless economic programs that Black folks couldn’t access (such as FHA loans and the GI Bill), which were “purposely, strategically, surgically meant to help middle class and working class white people but explicitly left out Black and Brown people.”
Home(ownership) for whites is where the wealth is
Toure notes that white wealth consistently accumulated as a result of programs meant to lift up the middle class –– er, one segment of it anyway.
“One of the greatest predictors of whether or not you own a home is whether or not your grandparents owned a home, because they are able to help your parents, who in turn are able to help you. This is how we build wealth in this country.”
Black families are much less likely to do that, “to say nothing of the fact that Black folks tend to not have anybody in their close network who can help out on an economic rainy day,” he adds. “And those are inevitable. But most white people have somebody who can help pull them through, because of generations of being helped by the government.”
“Why don't we call that white people reparations?” asks Danielle. “White people have been getting reparations since the fucking 1877 Compromise.”
Yet, pundits like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity claim nobody helped me. I did it all by myself. I didn't need anybody's help.
“No. You've been getting help for generations. It's so embedded in your life, you don't even notice it.”
“Right,” says Danielle. “Because you don't do dick on your own. Not a fucking thing.”
And with that, we'll be back next week: “to fillet some more white people,” says Toure.
“I know we're all hanging by a thread, but keep holding on.”
Check out the frustration, rage and absurdity that was the 2020 election on democracy-ishas Danielle Moodie and Toure discuss the current state of the political climate and our country from a Black perspective.