What a Difference: The Impact of Rush

I distinctly remember when my phone at my Washington hotel room rang at 1 AM during the spring of 1996. A distraught President Clinton was calling. “We’re getting killed on radio,” he blurted into the phone as soon as I picked it up.

“What do you mean?” I answered blearily trying to get a grip on what he was talking about.

“Hillary’s mother just drove here from Pennsylvania and all during the trip she heard them saying the most awful things about me on radio,” the president explained.

“On whose show?” I probed.

“Rush Limbaugh,” Clinton replied.

“He’s been on your case for years,” I answered.

“Yeah, but its getting serious,” he insisted.

The next morning, I got in touch with Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic National Committee to discuss setting up a war room to feed talking points to liberal talk show hosts to counter the pernicious influence of Rush!

Now that the wind blows at my back – no longer in my face – Rush sure comes in handy when its time to put the liberals in their place. There is, quite simply, nobody like him.

After all, before there was talk radio, there was Rush.

And before there was Fox News, there was Rush.

And before there was NewsMax, there was Rush.

And before their was Sean Hannity or Neil Boortz or Michael Medved or Dennis Prager or Mike Gallagher, there was Rush.

No other modern political commentator can lay claim to founding a branch of political discourse.

Honoring Rush for his contributions to America is not an empty exercise. At this moment, the liberal forces that hope to come to power with Barack Obama are set on a course to destroy the very institution that Rush founded – talk radio. Through a rigid application of the so-called fairness doctrine, they threaten to drive talk radio off the air and onto the Internet. Who knows if the listeners and the advertisers will follow?

Their goal is not to assure that liberals will be heard on the airwaves, but to guarantee that conservatives will not. The liberals know that left wing talk radio does not attract an audience and is a financial black hole. The collapse of Air America attests to that fact. NPR, black radio, Hispanic stations, and radio aimed at young people creams off the bulk of the would-be audience for liberal talk radio. So if stations can only air Rush or Sean or Neil if they also air the likes of Al Franken, they’ll probably cancel all talk radio and play music instead.

In our new book Fleeced, my wife Eileen McGann and I also raise the prospect that the left will seek to enforce sections of the FCC law which require “community participation” in the “ownership and management” of radio stations. As the National Review has pointed out, this can be a cover for infiltrating boards of directors and programming departments with liberals – an effort to hijack talk radio.

The liberals wouldn’t be trying to destroy talk radio if it weren’t working. And it was Rush who founded it and Rush who still leads the parade. Having attempted to discredit him, imprison him, silence him, or cow him, they have failed miserably. And, as a result, Rush still rules….and rocks!

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