Rush Limbaugh

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rush Limbaugh, tobacco industry promoter, AGW denier, conservative talk radio host
{{#badges: Tobaccowiki}}

Rush Limbaugh is a right-wing radio talk show host syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, a property of Clear Channel Communications. Limbaugh's hours-long commentaries are syndicated on hundreds of radio stations nationwide. He promotes tobacco interests and climate denialism, calling for all those promoting the “global warming hoax” to be “named and fired, drawn and quartered”.[1]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Drug Addiction and Former Condemnation of Drug Users

In October 2003, under criticism and closer scrutiny for his McNabb comments, Limbaugh admitted he was addicted to OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride), a long-acting slow-release opioid known colloquially as "hillbilly heroin", and other opioid drugs. Limbaugh checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic in Arizona. Upon returning to his program, Limbaugh lashed out at investigators who served warrants on Dec. 4 at offices of several physicians who he had visited. Search warrants indicated investigators suspect Limbaugh shopped for doctors willing to prescribe opioids, tranquillizers and anxiolytics. Limbaugh earlier reported trouble with his hearing, nearly leaving his job because of an almost total loss of hearing. Deafness is associated with Acetaminophen overuse, and Acetaminophen is often combined with opioids (e.g. Vicodin).[2] He was able to return to broadcasting after receiving an implant that allows him to hear monotone sounds. From time to time he has to take time away from work to return to California due to difficulties and checkups of the implant. Limbaugh was criticized for having condemned drug users and mocking claims of rehabilitation before his own drug problems were revealed.[3]

Support for Tobacco Industry

Rush Limbaugh has been a consistent supporter of the tobacco industry's positions on issues. Tobacco industry documents contain numerous examples of proposals and plans to enlist the help of conservative talk show hosts to advance tobacco company positions and opinions on issues. Rush Limbaugh is listed repeatedly as a host to contact. A November 1993 Philip Morris strategy plan to deal with the proliferation of smoking bans nationally lists a strategy to,

Use media and third party organizations to advance the position that it is becoming politically incorrect to be politically correct by exposing the hypocrisy and absurdity of the established movement toward political "correctness."(Relate public smoking issue to other absurd politically correct issues...Publicize absurdity of bigotry and intolerance [towards smokers].

A bullet after this states, "Place commentary ideas with personalities who can then expound on the issue, e.g. Rush Limbaugh." [4] In 1994, after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration took steps to implement workplace smoking restrictions, a proposal to fight the OSHA effort writtten by the Washington-based public affairs firm Powell-Tate (and found in the files of the Lorillard Tobacco Company) stated, "Today radio talk shows represent the playing field for many issues in the public arena. Witness the...enormous audience of talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh. Powell Tate has experience in working with radio talk show producers and hosts across the country. The agency will work to ... entice the host to discuss the issue on the show using attention-grabbing examples of "life after the passage of the OSHA regulations."[5]

On his April 29, 1994 radio program Limbaugh stated, "There is no conclusive proof that nicotine's addictive...and the same thing with cigarettes causing emphysema, lung cancer, heart disease." [7] He stated this despite the fact that the U.S. Surgeon General's Report of 1988 declared the nicotine in cigarettes to be an addictive substance, the 1984 Surgeon General's report definitively linked smoking with emphysema, and the 1964 report linked it with lung cancer. [6] A 2000 R.J. Reynolds report titled "'Reframing the Debate' Communications Plan" lists a goal of "Shift[ing] the debate and framework under which cigarette-related issues are evaluated in the future." RJR's plan lists Rush Limbaugh as a selected media outlet to approach for assistance in carrying out this plan.[7]


Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox appeared in a new political ad on stem cell research which "debuted prominently Saturday night [October 21, 2006,] during Game 1 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers, and became the "subject of widespread discussion" "after conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed Fox was 'either off his medication or acting'," the Associated Press/CBS News and other media outlets reported. "A victim of Parkinson's disease, Fox speaks out in the ad for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, who supports embryonic stem cell research." Limbaugh said on his syndicated show that "I think this is exploitative in a way that's unbecoming of either Claire McCaskill or Michael J. Fox" and, appearing to "back away from his accusation", Limbaugh added "All I'm saying is I've never seen him the way he appears in this commercial for Claire McCaskill ... So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances."

Fox responded to Limbaugh in an interview with CBS, saying: "He used the word victim and on another occasion used the word pitiable. Understand that nobody in this position wants pity. We don't want pity. I'm not a victim."

Donovan McNabb

On September 28, 2003, shortly after Limbaugh became a commentator on ESPN's Countdown, he made the following comment:

I think the sum total of what you're all saying is, Donovan McNabb is regressing, he's going backwards. And my, I'm sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well, for instance, black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn't deserve.... The defense carried this team, I think, and he got credit for it.[8]

On October 2, after heavy criticism, he stepped down as an ESPN commentator, saying:

What happened was that some of my cast members began to be made to feel uncomfortable by the press and others who couldn't believe that they had not responded to what I said so the path of least resistance became for me to resign.[8]

Abu Ghraib

In 2004, Limbaugh provoked controversy by making light of evidence of torture at the Abu Ghraib detention center in Baghdad:

The babes are meting out the torture.... It looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage.... This is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie. [9]
This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off? [10]
I think the reaction to the stupid torture is an example of the feminization of this country. [11]
Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation ... Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver. Nobody got hurt. Nobody got physically injured. But boy there was a lot of humiliation of people who are trying to kill us -- in ways they hold dear. Sounds pretty effective to me if you look at us in the right context.
if you have the passwords to these various porn sites, you can see things like this ... [Maybe the soldiers] are simply acting out what they've on these websites or something, just for the fun of it. Or maybe other reasons. [12]
... there's a lot of false phony concern for these Iraqi detainees. This is not about people genuinely outraged about this. ... The Democrats and the media don't give a rat's rear end about what happened to those prisoners. ... It's all political. They don't give a hoot about those prisoners. [13]
I mean, don't be surprised if [liberal financier] George Soros puts up a few hundred million dollars for a torture institute at the new torture university to teach people how it's really done, to show how Bush and Rumsfeld are inept. [14]

Sandra Fluke Comments Lead to Limbaugh Apology and Sponsor Exits

On February 29, 2012 Limbaugh unleashed an on-air slew of misogynistic and derogatory comments towards Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. Fluke was attacked by Limbaugh after she testified before an unofficial hearing convened by Democrats. She criticized the health insurance policies of Georgetown, a Jesuit university, saying the school's lack of contraception coverage has a harmful impact on female students. "I'm an American woman who uses contraceptives," she declared. [9]

On his show, Limbaugh slammed Fluke and claimed that she asked the government to subsidize her sex life. "What does that make her?" he asks. "It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex." [10] The next day next Limbaugh added, "if we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch." He also said [Fluke] was having "$3000 worth of birth control pills worth of sex." [11]

As advertisers began to pull out from Limbaugh's show, and criticism came from both political parties, Limbaugh issued a rare apology:

“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke. I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level. My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.” [12]

On March 5, 2012 Fluke made an appearance on ABC's 'The View' where she dismissed the apology and said that it changed nothing. [13]

As of March 8, 2012, a little over a week after Limbaugh's comments, 50 advertisers had pulled their sponsorship from Limbaugh's show. [14] Although Limbaugh is taking heat from sponsors, radio behemoth Clear Channel is standing by their man. Limbaugh's contract with Clear Channel runs until 2016. Clear Channel told the Associated Press: "We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions." [15]

Against Indecency Restrictions

Following controversial comments broadcast by Bubba the Love Sponge Clem and Howard Stern, Clear Channel executives were required to appear before a February 2004 House Energy and Commerce telecommunications subcommittee. This followed the Federal Communications Commission proposed to fine Clear $755,000 for Clem's broadcasts . The FCC, is headed by Republican appointee Michael Powell, and regulates indecency standards on radio. Clear Channel was fined. After the hearing St Peterburg Times journalist Eric Deggans noted that even though the FCC was headed by a Republican appointee and indecency on radio had been regulated on radio since 1936, Limbaugh railed against the possibility that Democrats could constrain what could be said on radio. "Smut on TV gets praised. . . . On radio, there seems to be a little bit of a different standard ... If we sit by and let a federal government start to define what is okay for someone to say on radio . . . what happens if a whole bunch of John Kerry . . . Terry McAuliffe types end up running this country?" Limbaugh complained. [15] (McAuliffe is Democratic National Committee chairman).

Related topics

Limbaugh's brother, David Limbaugh, an attorney, is also a regular contributor to conservative media outlets WorldNetDaily,, and The Washington Times. Limbaugh is carried on American Forces Radio and Television Service.

Contact Information


Related SourceWatch Articles

External Resources

  • See how you compare to Rush Limbaugh
  • Interview with John K. Wilson, author of The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, Media Matters with Bob McChesney, 29 August 2011.

External Articles







  1. McDonald, Frank (2011 [last update]). The real climate hoax: denying reality and demonising scientists - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 09, 2011. Retrieved on November 29, 2011.
  2. Szalavitz, Maia (2012 [last update]). Maia Szalavitz: Rush, Deafness, Hillbilly Heroin and Opioids. Retrieved on February 2, 2012. “Acetaminophen”
  3. Limbaugh on Drugs. (2012 [last update]). Retrieved on February 2, 2012.
  4. [1]
  5. [2]
  6. [3][4][5]
  7. Page 5
  8. [6]
  9. Rush Limbaugh vs. Sandra Fluke: A timeline, The Week, March 7, 2012
  10. Jack Mirkinson, Rush Limbaugh: Sandra Fluke Comments Were 'Uncalled For,' A 'Shame' Advertisers Left, Huffington Post, March 5, 2012
  11. Katherine Fung, Rush Limbaugh On Sandra Fluke, Obama Call: Having 'So Much Sex'; Parents Should Be 'Embarrassed, Huffington Post, March 2, 2012
  12. Kirsten West Savali, Limbaugh Issues Apology For “Slut” Comment, News One, March 3, 2012
  13. Amanda Cuda, St. Vs pulls ads from Limbaugh show, CT Post, March 7, 2012
  14. Adam Peck, Rush Limbaugh’s Advertisers Facing Social Media Firestorm, Think Progress, March 2, 2012
  15. Emily Osborne, Clear Channel Stands Behind Limbaugh, PRWatch, March 6, 2012

<tdo>resource_id=38685 resource_code=limbaugh_rush search_term=Rush Limbaugh</tdo>