Rush Limbaugh passed away today. His importance to the conservative movement cannot be underestimated.
When Limbaugh started his show in Sacramento back in 1984, the modern conservative movement did not exist. There was no conservative media. Thanks to the Fairness Doctrine, political talk was neither prevalent, popular, nor profitable.
By 1988, he was nationally syndicated. By 1990 he was the most listened-to program radio program in the country. By 1994, he had helped Republicans take over Congress in the Republican Revolution.
Without Rush Limbaugh and his radio show, there would be no conservative talk radio. No Fox News. No Sean Hannity. No Salem Communications. No Red State. No Breitbart. None of it would exist without Limbaugh.
Limbaugh was both a positive and a negative to the conservative movement. He exposed conservative ideas to more and more people, some of which may never have been exposed to conservatism before. He helped more Republicans, intentionally and otherwise, get elected than perhaps any non-politician before him.
But he also turned many people into his so-called “dittoheads” who accepted what he said on its face without critical thinking, the forerunner to those who believe that everything you read on Facebook is true. He hyperfocused too many people on the importance of national politics at the expense of local politics. He launched an armada of imitators, none of which were as entertaining or educational as he was. Those imitators helped to kill local talk radio in many, many markets. He became a shill for Donald Trump’s bastardized version of conservatism. He helped create the divisive national politics that continue to plague our country, manifested best by the wretched things being said today about Rush’s passing by some on the left.
I was never really a Rush listener; my focus has always been more local. But nobody can deny the importance of Rush Limbaugh. He had his demons, as we all do. He said some insanely hateful things. But his influence on conservatism, national politics, and the radio industry is virtually unmatched.
The conservatism you know is thanks to Rush. Warts and all.
Requiescat in pace.
Hugh Hewitt @hughhewittRIP Rush. One of the great gentlemen of the business. When I began on AM 640 on the weekends LA in 1990, Rush was already huge —a phenomenon. He cut promos for me as he did for many broadcasters at the start of the industry. Never stopped being a professional’s professional.