Thursday, October 15, 2009
Radio: How Rush Beck-oned the media
What must it be like to be Rush Limbaugh’s babysitter?
When that Baby Huey kicks his high chair in Palm Beach, the aftershocks rock Clear Channel’s death star headquarters in San Antonio and their puppeteers Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee in Boston.
The last few months have found Rush in the awkward position of playing second fiddle to rival conservative hatemonger Glenn Beck, who happens to be another high priced piece of Clear Channel property.
While Rush was basking his ego as being more popular than Michael Steele in the Republican party, Beck was perfecting the old crying evangelist trick - dabbing Vicks VapoRub just below his eyes, and bawling for America.
Beck, who also hosts a show on Fox News one-upped Rush on July 28 when he called President Barack Obama “racist” on the Fox and Friends show and accused him of having a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
That led to a number of advertisers, including Proctor & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, and Lawyers.com, pulling their spots from Beck’s 5 PM show.
Some radio advertisers also pulled off Beck’s Clear Channel’s Premiere Network syndicated show.
So what if some sponsors temporarily exited Beck’s Fox and Clear Channel shows?
They’ll be back. Liberals will tire from the torture of monitoring his show.
But the real crisis for Rush was Beck’s newfound publicity. Every media outlet was hammering Beck while Rush was just being Rush.
See, Rush always viewed himself as the Beatles and Glenn Beck as the Dave Clark Five. Now he feared that Beck could pull off the staying power of the Rolling Stones.
And have you seen what all the Beck publicity has done to the poor portly Rush?
He got his oink back.
Some news just sucks all the air out of everything else in the media. This was one of those cases. It was all Beck all of the time. It was if the king of all mean-spirited, racist, nativist, xenophobic radio hosts had been robbed from Rush and fenced to Beck.
The stress of being yesterday’s news had that porker packing on the poundage.
Rush has his addictions. Among them is to always be lead dog. He didn’t take well to Beck’s hindquarters blocking his view.
It’s not just about the money. Clear Channel pays him enough to buy controlling interest in Purdue Pharma.
It’s Rush’s insatiable ego that joneses him to get more media mentions than any other conservative shock talker.
So, he “leaked” news that he had joined a group of investors who were already negotiating to buy the 0-5 St. Louis Rams.
The group is headed by SCP Worldwide Chairman Dave Checketts, who owns the 2-2 St. Louis Blues NHL team.
The deal came with a somewhat convincing hook. Rush was spawned and raised in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, which is roughly 100 miles and change from St. Louis.
Rush played Checketts, the NFL, and African-American NFL players and spokespeople like a Stradivarius.
Knowing he’d be a lightning rod for objections, owing to his past negative and racial comments on the NFL, he went for it.
Remember this charmer from a January 2007 broadcast?
"The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons.”
In 2003, Limbaugh talked himself out of a Sunday commentator role on ESPN when he called Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb "overrated,” adding “What we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well—black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well."
The Rams revelation permitted Rush to position his adversaries right where he wanted them.
NFL Commish Roger Goodell said, "I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about. I would not want to see those kind of comments from people who are in a responsible position within the NFL."
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay claimed he’d vote against Limbaugh as an owner because of comments that were "inappropriate, incendiary and insensitive."
Professional race card players Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson fed the media their predictable, recycled, blah, blah woof, woof, over-the-top protests.
Several African-American NFL players insisted they would not play for or against a team owned by Limbaugh.
Not wanting to be in the middle of a racial war of the words while trying to close the Rams deal, Checketts dumped Rush and e-mailed a statement that read, “It has become clear that his (Limbaugh’s) involvement in our group has become a complication and distraction to our intentions. We have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion."
And now Rush is playing his own card - the conservative card.
Here’s his pontification from Wednesday: "This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.
"Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we're going to have."
If you’ve forgotten why Rush kicked off this grandstand play in the first place - here’s two words: Glenn - who?
Had Rush not made that McNabb comment he still wouldn’t have had a chance to own a piece of an NFL team. There’s that little problem he had a few years ago when he got caught buying OxyContin on the black market. The league has a no tolerance policy with ex-druggies.
And even though the golden age of radio is long gone, the golden age for rampant buffoonery on the radio shows no sign of decline.