A sudden “Rush” of anger

Rush Limbaugh makes people angry.

I don’t mean just the people who disagree with him. I mean the ditto-heads who hang on his every word.

I hate to generalize. There may be some sweet and open-minded Limbaugh fans out there. To them, I apologize, because those I’ve come into contact with through the years are generally apoplectic, humorless and unwilling to listen to anything that goes against the party line.

Can this be good for a person’s physical or mental health? Does it make people happy to be so angry?

I say this even though I’m a conservative on most issues.

My latest such encounter came this morning, right after I’d flipped on the lights and fired up the hard drive. The phone rang. On the other end was a man wanting to know why I would say Rush was uniting the nation against him.

I write a little humorous take on the news each Monday called “On second thought.” This week, I referred to Limbaugh’s tirade against a third-year Georgetown law student who had testified to Congress about the need for mandatory contraceptive coverage. He called her a slut and a prostitute. He said he wanted to see tapes of her having sex.

My caller launched into a defense of Limbaugh, demanding to know why I thought Americans should be forced to pay for the contraceptives of promiscuous people.

The thing is, I don’t think that. But the minute Limbaugh started throwing around words like “slut” and “prostitute,” all rational debate ended. My side of the argument got lost under an avalanche of incivility and hate.

I try to be nice to callers, even one who is shouting that no one he knows disagrees with Limbaugh and that I’m just part of the liberal media cabal. (He didn’t actually use that word. “Cabal” likely is a bit large for him.)

But then he turned me over to his wife, and the fun really started. Each time I tried to interject that I agreed that insurance companies should not be forced to provide contraceptive coverage, she would yell, “I don’t care if you agree with me!” I hung in there until she began shrieking swear words in my ear. That’s when I aborted the conversation.

So far, seven sponsors have pulled out of the Limbaugh show. Sponsors care about their customers, first and foremost. My caller insisted they were just knuckling under to pressure from “the libs.”

Limbaugh has apologized. You can read it here. He said, “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.”

That was his first mistake, trying to be humorous to a crowd he personally has trained to be humorless.

Of course, my caller would see the apology as something forced on Rush by “the libs.” It’s a world-view that conveniently explains everything and eliminates the need to explore arguments or defend positions.

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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

35 comments

  1. Wes Holley

    Jay,

    Want to know what is humorous? The Deseret News encourages a civil dialogue. You welcome “thoughtful comments.” But I guess you transcend the same requirements.

    You see, according to your biased account, there MIGHT be some listeners of Rush Limbaugh that actually have an open mind and/or a sense of humor. Might. Nice of you to be so civil and thoughtful.

    Apparently, according to you, Rush made a mistake by trying to be humorous to an audience that is humorless and follows him at his every word.

    Thanks Jay for showing your true colors. Thanks for being the brave conservative you say you are by taking the time to come to the defense of Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham and so many other conservative women that were called worse by the likes of Bill Maher, Ed Schultz and others. Oh wait. You didn’t. You see, to call leftists out on their hate-filled comments wouldn’t be civil or thoughtful.

    Yes, I have a sense of humor. I actually read your worthless editorial showing how you transcend politics when, in actuality, you don’t. You obviously have a sense of humor when you paint yourself as conservative when, in reality, you really are not.

    Go back to your cubical. Go back to writing your anti-Rush and anti-Rush listener screed. Go back to your anti-fireworks rants. Thank you again for your conservatism, civility and thoughtfulness.

    • really?

      Wes,
      I hope you didn’t forget what a hypocrite your hero Rush is. Fact: Rush was caught trying to bring a large ziploc bag full of various prescription drugs into the United States on his private jet after a vacation in the Dominican Republic. The vast majority of those pills were later found to be Viagra and other E.D. drugs. Rush was on probation at the time for his doctor shopping convictions regarding Oxycontin. One more thing, he was not married at the time! What a slut!!

      • Manolo Medina

        Thanks, “really?”. You just proved Wes’s point that it’s okay to be uncivil as long as it’s towards a conservative. The DesNews would not have allowed anyone to refer to a democrat as a “slut”.

  2. LDS Liberal

    Rush Limbaugh was my #1 reason for leaving the GOP.

    What I can’t understand, is the lemmings who thrive on his {and the other’s like him} vitrol and daily de-sensitizing.

    I still remember all the hate mail sent to KSL for finally pulling the last of them (Sean Hannity) off of their station.
    Those who called it the Signs of the Times, that KSL and the Deseret News had apostized and become part of the “LIBERAL” media.

    So long as Rush Limbaugh is the junk-yard dog and Figurehead of the GOP, I will – I can not, seriously ever consider voting Republican again.

    • Manolo Medina

      So you left the GOP. That’s why you call yourself a liberal. Makes complete sense to me. Phoney.

      • really?

        Manolo. I’m sorry you can’t understand satire. I used Rush’s words to highlight the stupidity of what he said.

  3. Gail Hanson

    I think Rick Santorum’s response was telling. “Entertainers are allowed to be absurd.” The problem is that while those on the Left are clearly identified as stand-up comedians, (Colbert, Stewart, and Maher), the Right wing political commentators are identified as “political talk show hosts.” Since some talk shows are based on an intent to inform listeners (Dr. Ruth, Dave Ramsay), it is not clear that others are simply for entertainment (Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage).

  4. rolandkayser

    Ron Paul says that he doesn’t think that Rush is sorry. He apologized because advertisers are dropping his show. That will diminish his income, that’s what he is sorry about. I don’t always agree with Ron Paul, but I think he nailed this one.

    • Brother Chuck Schroeder

      I hate to generalize unless it’s the truth. I don’t see a “Rush” of anger from ditto-heads who hang on his every word. WE KNOW Rush Limbaugh is sorry he lost multiple companies that have pulled their ads off Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, but that’s about all, now he’s scared he’ll lose even more, then perhaps his show may be dropped, for low ratings, after he spent several days insulting a Georgetown University law student by calling her “slut,” a “prostitute” and other insults. Sandra Fluke became Limbaugh’s target for speaking out about the current debate over birth control. Sleep Train, Select Comfort and Carbonite removed their ads after getting numerous messages from customers on Twitter and Facebook urging them to do so. “No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency,” said David Friend, the CEO of Carbonite. To bad this did not happen to his show also. Stuxnet, the cyberweapon that attacked and damaged an Iranian nuclear facility, has opened a Pandora’s box of cyberwar. One year ago a malicious software program called Stuxnet exploded onto the world stage as the first publicly confirmed cyber superweapon a digital guided missile that could emerge from cyber space to destroy a physical target in the real world. Rush Limbaugh and his GOP bureaucrats and politicians in Washington DC reminds me of “Elite Showdogs” that is an invitation-only e-mail list of long-time breeders, K Street and Wall Street exhibitors and judges that are judicial activist’s. These politicians in Washington DC wear a GPS collar attachment to be found faster, so these K Street and Wall Street exhibitors can walk them around using a chain in circles until their dizzy enough to cave into them and give them what they want. Are we just seeing a very bad situation here so the glass is half full?.

    • Kathyj

      I think Rush is sorry for the words he used but I don’t think he is wrong. I would like to see the list of the advertisers who have jumped ship! They must be pretty dim to think that anyone who usually listens to Rush will quit listening over drivel like this gal was spilling! Don’t we have brains to think this through!

      • Greg

        Do you know the drivel she was spilling? You seem to not know, so I will enlighten you.

        Her roommate had ovarian cysts, which can effectively be controlled by the pill. Because Georgetown didn’t cover them, the girl couldn’t afford them and she lost an ovary.

        Also, it should be noted that BYU covers the pill.

  5. Twin Lights

    I used to listen to Rush about two decades ago. I still tune in now and then, but then turn him off. He is hard to listen to for too long because he is constantly going off on wild tangents and he simply does not keep his facts straight (or he bends them sufficiently that they no longer resemble much the original facts).

    Our nation is dividing itself into camps that simply cannot stand any testing of ideas or challenge of philosophy. Those that do offer such challenge are dismissed and ridiculed.

    We cannot govern a nation this way. If we allow ourselves to be balkanized philosophically and emotionally, eventually our nation will descend into chaos and division. Real division – not just the philosophical kind.

    We can start with assuming that those on “the other side” (whichever side that is) are good people of good will who simply disagree with our views. Nothing more. It will make for poor radio but for a great nation.

  6. RanchHand

    Rush’s “apology” wasn’t an apology at all. He didn’t apologize for the content of his tirade, only the “words” he chose to use. So, in essense, he still considers her a slut and a prostitute, but he could have chosen better words for the concept? Sorry, I’m not buying it.

    Insurance providers should provide medicines – ALL medicines – prescribed by the patient’s doctors. It is not anybody else’s business what that medication might be or for what purpose it might be used. That is none of our business.

    The real hypocrisy is that Insurance Providers will pay for a man’s Viagra – to be used for sex, obviously, but they won’t pay for a woman’s contraceptives? Contraceptives which have uses for both sex and medical reasons.

    I hope ALL his advertisers get the message and pull their products from his program. It isn’t worth filling your brain with his brand of hate.

  7. Manolo Medina

    Jay, you’re a conservative? Compared to whom?

    Who are you trying to please with your anti-Rush rant? The conservative base? I doubt it. That would be like ripping on Obama in order to curry favor with liberals. Doesn’t work–and you know it.

    So Limbaugh makes an “offensive” comment regarding a gal who made her case that the government owes it to her to provide her with free condoms and other health perks, ensuring her sexual freedom.

    Wouldn’t a true conservative be arguing against her claim? Not you. Obviously, that would be uncivil and unthoughtful. But ripping into Rush (or any other true conservative), that’s okay. You did it repeatedly in your rant.

    Again, accusing every Limbaugh fan of being “apoplectic, humorless and unwilling to listen to anything that goes against the party line.” How civil. Real brotherly love and kindness.

    • Andy

      I would think that a true conservative can argue against her claim (did you not read the part where Jay said he told callers dozens of times that he argues against her claim) without demeaning the woman.

    • Lagomorph

      A) Compared to me, anyway.

      B) Largely overlooked in this discussion is the fact that Rush’s comments were premised on a falsehood. Ms. Fluke did NOT claim that “government owes it to her to provide her with free condoms and other health perks.” She testified in favor of requiring private health insurance providers to cover prescription contraceptives. Rush (and his listeners) somehow transmogrified this into the use of taxpayer funds to provide free contraceptives of all kinds (prescription and over-the-counter). Fluke and other women would be paying for their prescription contraceptives with their insurance premiums and their copays– their own private money and the pooled private money of other policy holders in their health plans. Hardly a free ride on the backs of the taxpayers. And besides, even if she was arguing for tax-paid contraception, Rush still had it wrong: Women would not be paid for sex, they would be paid for not conceiving. There’s a world of difference.

      Further, Rush completely ignored Fluke’s observation that contraceptive drugs are often medically indicated for non-contraceptive purposes (e.g. control of ovarian cysts, in her example). Instead, he went for the cheap shot. As the voice of conservatives with a huge bully pulpit, he had a splendid opportunity to explore the policy and explore alternative policy mechanisms that would achieve the goals of protecting women’s health in freedom-affirming ways agreeable to conservatives. But all he could muster was a vulgar personal attack on someone he disagreed with. That does not advance the debate, it sullies it.

  8. Maddy

    I’ve considered myself an Independent most of my life. I’ve always tried to listen to arguments from both sides of the political spectrum. I try to watch both Democratic and Republican Conventions. At one time I listened to Rush’s program. But really I found his rants to be void of anything positive. It appeals to the worst instincts in us. The purile, the rude, and the crude. For 3 hrs a day, 5 days a week people can tune into his garbage.

    The fact is, this is nothing new for Limbaugh. He has a history of misogynist statements. He made derogatory statements about Chelsea Clinton. He attacked 9/11 widows. There are other examples as well. I’ve long said Limbaugh has offended every demographic except white conservative men. He also has a questionable history on race issues, with statements concerning black quarterbacks. There is a very ugly underbelly in many right-wing commentators. Yes, there is Bill Maher (who lost his TV program for statements he made). There is Ed Schultz (another program I don’t care for) who called Ann Coulter a name and then got suspended, rightly so, even though Ann Coulter has been known to use extreme language and characterizations itself. It is all ugly.

    Well, Limbaugh maybe just crossed the point of no return. His apology was not an apology. He is who he is. Let him join subscriber-based media and those who want to hear him can pay for it.

    At a minimum I cannot understand how or why my fellow LDS members and other Christians could ever be a faithful listener of Limbaugh.

  9. John Charity Spring

    Why is it that the national media gives a free pass to left wing commentators, but soundly condemns conservative commentators for even the smallest slip ups? This is far from evenhanded.

    The leftist talk show hosts are allowed to denegrate religion and marriage withoht the media even raising an eyebrow. Yet, when a consrvative calls for the practice of traditional values like chasity, he is soundly decried as being a bigot.

    What has been lost in this argument is this: unmarried persons should not be having sex, and thus, no one should be paying to provide them with contraception. If the unmarried want to engage in unrestrained copulation like crazed weasels, they should pay for contraception themselves.

    • IT_Geek

      John, your argument has many failings.

      First off, there seems to be some great misunderstanding about the mandate. People seem to think this is coming from tax dollars. It isn’t. It would simply mandate that birth control be covered by insurance policies.

      You also seem to think that unmarried people are the only ones that use birth control. You know very well that simply isn’t true. Responsible married people also use birth control to plan their families. They plan when, how far apart, and how many children they will have.

      Because birth control is basically a hormone, they are often used to treat other medical conditions. Their sole purpose is not just preventing pregnancy.

      I don’t see anyone ranting and raving about coverage for erectile disfunction drugs. So, it’s OK to help a man to have sex, but not for a women to prevent unwanted/unplanned pregenancies.

      Lastly, the fact is that birth control drugs are doctor prescribed medications. The reason why the doctor prescribes them is none of your, or anyone elses business. If that person is having sex, in or out of wedlock, is none of your or anyone elses business. Your argument clearly shows that you are more concerned about out of wedlock sexual activity than you are about any health issues or concerns.

  10. El Rushbo

    Rush used the wrong words for the right message…but of course that is irrelevant when the left has the ability to inflict damage.

    Fair enough.

    What about Bill Maher and his comments that he makes every show. Their are hateful, vitriolic, nasty, insensitive, bigoted, and plenty of other descriptive terms (all aimed at conservatives) but there seems to be no outrage about that.

    That is because those types of words are all fair game if they are aimed at conservatives but heaven forbid they are aimed back at liberals.

  11. Mike Richards

    Rush is Rush. He talks big. He thinks a lot of his own opinions. He speaks for no one except for himself. Look at his personal life. He cannot control his appetites. He doesn’t know the meaning of a marriage vow. He loves himself. He loves to hear his own voice.

    Whatever he says is guaranteed to bennefit him and him only.

    He does not speak for America, no matter what Mr. Obama thinks.

    • Iron Rod

      Re Mike Richards March 5th, 2012 @3:18

      Mike this is the first time I agree with any of your posts.

      My thought is that many conservatives have a problem being honest and even handed when one of their own kind makes a mistake. A good example would be the Hermain Cain situation.

      Also I question why the “Family Values” radio station have him as one of their prime talk show hosts. In my opinion he is the opposite of a “family value” role model.

      Does he have even one child? How many times has he been married? His current wife is young enough to be his daughter if he had one. How many brushes with the law over drugs?

      If he was single at the time what was he doing being caught with Viagra(in some one elses name) in his luggage when returning from the Dominican Republic?

      Personal feeling this radio station certainly could come up with a better role model. But I guess he is the number one talk show host in the nation. It shows you something about our country.

  12. CB

    Shouldn’t the Democrats also offer an apology, after all they
    were the one’s who put her ‘out on the street’.
    She not only put herself in that place, but she also lied about
    the cost, offering $3,000 cost when the Target store nearby offers
    generic birth control for $9.00 per month.

  13. Capsaicin

    One minute of inspiration (from God) is a better teacher than a 1000 hours from a loud, ranting, finger pointing, liberal-bashing, self-absorbed man. I think this of him and I’m conservative. I just don’t want HIM to be the voice of conservatism. He might be right on a lot of issues, but the way he goes about it, is unproductive. He just polarizes people because he’s got millions of listeners on the offensive, and those who disagree with him on the defensive. You can’t teach truth when the teacher is wagging his finger in your face telling you what an idiot you are.

  14. mike cleveland

    Foul language is common in movies, television, work place, schools, and with some talk show hosts.

    Rushes mistake was lowering himself to that level, and should not have used the words he did.

  15. Gildasq

    Rush often used to cheer me up when political developments and their economic consequences got me down. I have never entirely agreed with him, or with anyone else for that matter, not on every subject. Nevertheless I appreciate him for what he has to offer. His sound bites are often apt and very telling and his researchers bring many significant things to light. Some of his views are way off and others are right on.

    There are more types and non-types out here than Jay (Mr Evensen) seems to come across. It’s not just “ditto heads” on one hand and those who dislike Rush on the other; it’s perhaps millions more that, like me, enjoy much of what Mr Limbaugh does, agrees with some of what he says, and turn him off at times, tune back in later.

    I haven’t listened to Rush for some time b’c, like so many other allegedly ‘conservative’ talk show hosts, he all but ignores Ron Paul but cannot dismiss him or attempt to defeat his arguments effectively. Still I heard both Glenn Beck (another person who I sometimes like, and other times not) and also Mr Limbaugh speak to the subject in question.

    As Rush likes to say “words have meanings”. Having heard the discussion about this individual woman used to promote free contraceptives I do believe she made a statement about the volume of contraceptives that she needed per year. This did not make her a prostitute b’c it did not establish that she sold herself for money. The other term “slut”, in my dictionary, refers to a “promiscuous woman”. It would be hard to deny that based on the woman’s own statements. The first word (prostitute) is likely slanderous, the second appears to be accurate.

  16. Funkmeister

    Rush Limbaugh’s problems go well beyond his use of two disgusting words. It is not uncommon that the content of much his program descends into the depths of “disgusting.” He needs to clean up his entire act or he will continue to lose more than his sponsors.

  17. rolandkayser

    A few Republicans have occasionally dared to criticize Rush, but all have had to take it back and apologize to him. There is no critic on the left with the power to ruin a politician’s career the way Rush does on the right. There are liberal commentators that are every bit as nasty and offensive as Rush, but they have virtually no influence on politics.

    That’s what makes Rush different. He has often been called the voice of the Republican party. Keith Olberman and Bill Maher speak for themselves, no one else.

  18. Ajax

    In a recent study of socially conservative ideologies, the lead researcher wrote that, “…there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world. The researcher added that these ideologies, “…stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice.”

  19. howard beal

    I didn’t like Rush said but I want to know where is the public outcry in the media about Bill Maher and what he said about Sarah Palin, which is much more offensive of a term?

  20. J Thompson

    Look at how many let “Rush” make their decisions for them. One said that he stopped being a Republican because of Rush. Can you imagine that, letting an entertainer decide your politics for you? What office does Rush hold? What legislation has he passed? Does the President check with Rush before proposing legislation?

    Does anyone but the Left even know that Rush is on the radio?

    As far as providing contraceptives goes, what words best describe those who have sex outside of marriage? The two words that I would use are “Godless” and “immoral”. Those who believe in God, know that God has mandated sex only within marriage. Sex outside of marriage, in any form, is a sin.

    How many people laugh when they hear the word, “sin”? How many people think that “sin” is an old-fashioned word, no longer used by “educated” people. They may laugh now, but they won’t laugh for long.

  21. PeanutGallery

    I often agree with Evensen, and I partly agree this time, too. But he’s wrong when he says that Limbaugh listeners are humorless. I think Evensen’s callers were the exception to the rule, and normally Limbaugh listeners are good-hearted, friendly, patriotic, engaged, caring Americans with a cheerful sense of humor.

    Limbaugh went a little too far this time, and it detracted from his standard message of trusting people rather than trusting government. I think his voice is a great boon for our country, especially with so many voices promoting more government control, more immorality, less personal responsibility, and less freedom.

    Also, Evensen has it exactly backwards in his final paragraph. It’s Limbaugh’s OPPONENTS who try to avoid civil debate and the defending of positions, and who instead try to demonize, intimidate, or shut down the voices of their opponents. That’s a nasty but convenient way to avoid having to defend your position.

  22. David Jay

    Jay,

    Once again I find myself agreeing with you. As a left leaning independent that is hard to do too often. The tenor of the comments also seems to support your well written article.

    I can’t listen or watch talk radio or TV. I find all the yelling, hollering, nasty language, and vile comments too tiring. This true for both the right and the left.

    I found Mr Limbaugh’s comments to be disgusting, vile and totally inappropriate. I have a daughter and I believe she has the right to make decisions about her body and no man has the right to demean or villify her for her choices.

    Mr Limbaugh’s apology was anything but an apology. It seemed more like a statement that he is sorry he is losing advertisers at such a fast rate.

  23. maddy

    Reading through these comments there are few who condemn Rush’s attack on Ms. Fluke. Several comments attempt to deflect criticism of Limbaugh by criticizing/accusing liberal commentators of similar behavior. Others say Rush’s chose his words poorly but his message was correct.

    Pathetic.

    First, it wasn’t simple a statement or comment Rush made. It was 3 consecutive days of attacks on Ms. Fluke calling her a slut among other things. (It is obvious Limbaugh doesn’t even understand the basics of birth control pills). So, then are we to conclude that his framing of the situation was correct, that she is a “loose woman” having lots of sex but went too far by calling her a slut?

    Secondly, Ms. Fluke presented stories that other women friends had shared with her about real world consequences of not being able to afford appropriate medical care and contraception. She didn’t talk about herself, she didn’t even talk about sex.

    Frankly, there is a lot more condemnation of the left by the left than the right wing condemning their own.

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