When the news of Rush Limbaugh‘s death on February 17th became public, people on both sides of the political spectrum weighed in on social media. If he was only measured by the comments posted online, Rush Limbaugh is either the very best or the very worst, depending on where you stand politically.
The problem with the posts and reactions to the passing of Rush Limbaugh is the extreme nature of the content. People who were fans only look at his trailblazing career and the powerful influence he had on right wing media and the Republican party. While those who detested Rush solely focus on abhorrent and hurtful comments he’s made.
What is the legacy of Rush Limbaugh? It’s truly complicated. Both his detractors and supporters are right about him. But one should be able to appreciate his accomplishments in broadcasting as a Radio Hall of Fame inductee, five-time Marconi Award winner for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year and host of the most-listened-to national radio talk show in America, while acknowledging the corrosive effect of his rhetoric. In addition, those who point out his incendiary words about AIDS victims, Michael J. Fox, Chelsea Clinton, Barack Obama and countless others, shouldn’t disrespect his accomplishments as a radio legend.
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III came from a family full of lawyers and was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Instead of pursuing the family business, Rush went into broadcasting when he just 16 by landing an on-air gig at a local radio station. He seemed destined for a career as a conventional jock or sports broadcaster. But when Rush replaced Morton Downey Jr. on KFBK/Sacramento and nearly tripled the program’s ratings in four years, he was became focused on growing in the world of News/Talk radio. Rush Limbaugh’s success in Sacramento led to an opportunity in New York City, and then the launch of his self-titled nationally syndicated radio show.
Some have speculated that Rush Limbaugh, like some of Fox News‘ most popular Talent, wasn’t as abrasive as his on-air persona. Perhaps his hard right stance on issues helped increase ratings and revenue, so maybe he was playing a more extreme version of himself on “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” While the only person who truly knows what was in Rush’s heart is no longer with us, hopefully those who make mention of him will present both sides of what Rush Limbaugh represented. Or at the very least, remember that if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s probably best to say nothing at all.