Big, Bad, Scary Rush
I've received a couple of emails asking what I thought of this profile The New York Times Magazine ran last week on Rush Limbaugh. I find Limbaugh loathsome. He is a bigoted, hypocritical drug addict. Politically he is a buffoon, a right-wing windbag who is out of touch with even Republican voters (witness his love of Mitt Romney). The fact that The Times wasted column inches on him is an insult to readers.
Over at Alternet* you can find this assessment of the profile and the right wing "reporter" the folks at The Times picked to write it. Here is one of the good bits:
The problem with what passes for journalism in the U.S. is that there is no concept of what might count as honest, critical writing. There certainly seems to be few venues for such work. Either something is a "hit piece" or it is fawning (the latter posture of supplication struck in order to secure 'access'). Well, how about having someone write a vaguely honest piece on Limbaugh and then offer to sit down with him and discuss the thing. If he refuses, too bad; run it with that caveat stated. It is not as though Rush would not have ample chance to whine and complain about how oppressed he is.
"I understand that Beltway media players routinely play nice with Limbaugh and his fringe brand of conservatism. Spooked by his liberal-bias charges, the mainstream press corps has for years treated Limbaugh with undeserved respect, worked overtime to soften his radical edges, and presented him as simply a partisan pundit. ...
The lengthy Times profile took that trend to a whole new level, because unlike most previous half-hearted attempts to outline, in very general ways, what Limbaugh says and explain why he's controversial, the Times clearly never had any intention of shedding even the dimmest light on the content of Limbaugh's program. Instead, it hired a conservative writer to wistfully dismiss Limbaugh's critics in two or three sentences. And in exchange for playing dumb, the Times was granted unusual access to the talk-show host.That kind of obvious quid pro quo is the type of thing that's practiced on a daily basis at celebrity magazines, where editors angle for access in exchange for puff pieces. It's not journalism, and it ought to be beneath The Times."
* If you think Alternet is too lefty to offer a reasonable assessment, try this one at The Columbia Journalism Review.