Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (born January 12, 1951) is an American conservative radio and television talk show host whose shows are discussions primarily of politics from a conservative point of view. Limbaugh's commentary is intended to expose what he perceives as liberal fallacies and bias, report news that is underreported elsewhere, and support conservative principles in an entertaining manner. Critics argue his commentary is also intended to intimidate political opponents and incite his audience to hatred. He does not claim to give an unbiased view of the facts; rather, his shows are presented as conservative political commentary on the news, though much news is presented along with the commentary.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Biography
3 Books
4 Jargon
5 External links


Limbaugh began his syndicated program in the early 1980s. As the program grew in popularity, it became carried on stations with larger and larger audiences. The Rush Limbaugh Show, was responsible for the shift in AM broadcasting to a news-talk format after a decline in listenership in the 1970s. The program has for years been the most popular talk radio show in the United States, however Limbaugh refers to "the media" as not including himself.

Many liberal critics decry the lack of a balance between liberal and conservative viewpoints on talk radio. Limbaugh's response to this accusation is to assert that most news reporting is liberally biased (in particular, television and newspaper news); as he says, "I am equal time." He also does not claim to be a neutral reporter, and contrasts his stance with the major news media's claims of objectivity (in the United States). On the other hand, he has excused himself on occasion as being an entertainer, not a reporter.

Limbaugh's satire is very sharp, and has been criticized for its unkindness. For example, news about the homeless is always preceded with the Clarence "Frogman" Henry rock song Ain't Got No Home. His references to Ted Kennedy invariably allude to alcohol use. His humor also includes self-inflation, in the style of Davy Crockett and American bluesmen.

Rush Limbaugh is as much a political symbol as he is a broadcaster, comedian, and political satirist. Shortly after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, President Bill Clinton blamed Limbaugh for fostering a "climate of hate", which conservative commentators gleefully derided. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush made an appearance on Limbaugh's show as part of his re-election campaign.

Critics often try to expose Limbaugh's own fallacies, misstatements, and biases. Comedian and political satirist Al Franken released a book and CD titled Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (ISBN 0440508649) which, among other political humor from a liberal perspective, included harsh criticism of Limbaugh and his allegedly meager fact-finding efforts.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) released a report on October 17, 1994 listing forty-three errors Limbaugh allegedly made during various shows. Limbaugh responded to about half of the original claims; FAIR then rebutted his rebuttal. For the full text of the original, the rebuttal and the rebuttal of the rebuttal, see [1].


Early radio career

Rush Limbaugh started out in radio as a teenager in the late 1960s in his home town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, using the name Rusty Limbaugh. His father, a conservative judge whose wealth and power gave him considerable influence in Southeastern Missouri, had once owned the radio station where Limbaugh started his career.

Limbaugh achieved his first taste of radio success in Pittsburgh, as host of a Top 40 music radio show on station KQV, using the name "Jeff Christie". It was in Pittsburgh that many of Limbaugh's trademarks developed, including a character named "Snerdley" and his claim to use a "golden microphone".

Talk radio career

After several years in music radio, Limbaugh accepted a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. In 1988, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host in Sacramento, California. After achieving some local success, he moved to New York City in the early 1990s and eventually became syndicated via a company called Premiere Broadcasting. Limbaugh refers on-air to the "Excellence In Broadcasting Network", or "E-I-B", however there is no such actual organization.

He has a dynamic voice and dramatic presentation. His harshest critics can see that he is an excellent broadcaster. He attracted widespread support in 1998 when he complained that some radio stations were shortening his programs by cutting out the dramatic pauses to make room for more commercials.

Limbaugh was the 1992, 1995, and 2000 recipient of the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year, given by the National Association of Broadcasters. He was inducted into Broadcasting's Hall of Fame in 1993.

By September 2001, Limbaugh's listeners had noted changes in his voice and diction, changes that Limbaugh initially denied. However, on October 8, 2001, Limbaugh admitted that the changes in his voice were due to complete deafness in his left ear and substantial hearing loss in his right ear. He also revealed that his radio staff was aiding him in concealing his rapidly progressing hearing loss by setting up a system where he could appear to hear his callers. The system worked remarkably well, but did not deceive all listeners, some of whom noted a long delay between a caller ending his point and Limbaugh responding, and occasionally speaking over a caller.

In December 2001, Limbaugh underwent cochlear implant surgery, which restored a measure of hearing in one ear, and his voice and diction improved. Following the news story of his addiction to painkillers, it was suggested that his deafness was probably due to a known side effect of the class of painkillers he abused.

ESPN controversy

In September of 2003, Limbaugh ignited a controversy [1] when, speaking as a football commentator on ESPN, he criticized media support for Donovan McNabb, the African-American quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. The controversy centered on his comment:

"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well ... There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

McNabb was the highest paid NFL player in history at the time [1], but had the worst start of his career in the 2003 season and was the NFL's lowest-rated starting quarterback. To his credit, McNabb was a runner-up for the year 2000 league Most Valuable Player, a member of three Pro Bowl teams and led his team to two-straight NFC championship games. McNabb had suffered a broken leg during the 2002 season, and had been slow to recover.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, a Democratic Party candidate for President, demanded Limbaugh's firing from ESPN, and threatened a boycott of all Disney companies, including the American Broadcasting Company and Disneyland and Disney World. Limbaugh responded by saying that he must have been right; otherwise, the comments would not have sparked such outrage. Presidential candidates Howard Dean and Wesley Clark joined in the criticism, as did the NAACP.

On October 1, 2003, Limbaugh resigned from ESPN with the statement:

"My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret. I love 'NFL Sunday Countdown' and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it. Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen."

Limbaugh insisted that his comments were aimed at the media, and not at McNabb or African Americans.

Drug use and investigation

Rush's World of Pain Newsweek cover on October 20, 2003

In early October 2003 and in the same week as the McNabb controversy, the National Enquirer reported that Limbaugh was being investigated for illegally buying prescription drugs. Limbaugh's former housekeeper, under investigation for drug dealing, alleged that Limbaugh was addicted to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, Lorcet (a combinination of Tylenol and hydrocodone), and hydrocodone, and that he went through detox twice. The existence of an investigation was quickly confirmed by other news outlets. The highly addictive painkillers function similarly to morphine or a stronger form of codeine.

Following Limbaugh's admission of drug addiction, his detractors reviewed prior statements by him about drug addicts. Several statements from the 1990s were found, in particular, on October 5, 1995:

"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."

He went on to note that black drug addicts go to prison more often than white drug addicts:

"What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."

and in 1998:

"What is missing in the drug fight is legalization. If we want to go after drugs with the same fervor and intensity with which we go after cigarettes, let's legalize drugs. Legalize the manufacture of drugs. License the Cali cartel. Make them taxpayers and then sue them. Sue them left and right and then get control of the price and generate tax revenue from it. Raise the price sky high and fund all sorts of other wonderful social programs."

On October 10, 2003, Limbaugh admitted to listeners on his radio show that he was addicted to prescription painkillers and stated that he would enter inpatient treatment for 30 days, immediately following the broadcast. He did not specifically mention to which type of pain medication he was addicted. Speaking about his behavior, Limbaugh went on to say:

"I am not making any excuses. You know, over the years athletes and celebrities have emerged from treatment centers to great fanfare and praise for conquering great demons. They are said to be great role models and examples for others. Well, I am no role model. I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes.

"They are the role models. I am no victim and do not portray myself as such. I take full responsibility for my problem. At the present time the authorities are conducting an investigation, and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete."

An article in the magazine Human Events (January 12, 2004 issue), documents what the authors refer to as a 'Network War' against Limbaugh. The network anchors are charged with utilizing wildly exaggerated and inflammatory rhetoric and misleading characterizations of Limbaugh, groundlessly alleging crimes and implying Limbaugh was involved in "drug sales," "drug gangs," etc. All three major television networks contributed to this presumption of guilt, rather than innocence. Limbaugh's attorney Roy Black alleges that the chief county prosecutor investigating Limbaugh, an elected Democrat, is also politically motivated. The liberal ACLU, outraged over the blatant unfairness, has now lent its support to Limbaugh. The article includes a detailed network news coverage Timeline.


  • The Way Things Ought to Be, 1992 (ISBN 067175145X)
  • See, I Told You So, 1993 (ISBN 067187120X)


Rush Limbaugh uses his own jargon, which is explained here:

  • Dittoheads
  • EIB
  • Emotional punditry - describes advocating/arguing for a particular objective using purely emotional pleas with little regard for logical arguments for/against the objective. Some opponents claim that Limbaugh's use of ad hominem terms constitutes such punditry.
  • Environmentalist Wacko
  • Feminazi
  • "Updates" on everything from the Kennedys to homelessness.
  • Stack of stuff

External links