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REALITY CHECK + Readers Responses

James Campion

Limbaugh is a melon-headed lap dog for the Republican Party who fronts a shill-laden attack fest middays for WABC Radio in New York.

As usual, the frenzied response to a hot-button story misses the key point. This time its the fabricated outrage surrounding politico dog-and-pony act, Rush Limbaugh's alleged controversial statements made on ESPN's pro football pre-game scream-o-rama last Sunday, which, by way of mention, took four days to surface. To arrive at less reactionary conclusions, we must pose three core questions: What Limbaugh was doing on a pre-game show beyond acting as gaffer or towel boy, his reasons for the gutless quitting of the gig afterwards, and who stood the most to suffer its backlash had he been man enough to face the music? For the record, this incident should not be viewed as a race issue, or a form of political correctness abuse or certainly any first amendment pogrom. And it is not, nor has it ever been about whether or not anything the man uttered displayed the slightest glimmer of validity. It was merely a con to get you to pay attention to something and someone not worthy of your attention. Let's review.

For those not mired in all things jock or schlock, ESPN and Limbaugh were a match made in a marketing heaven imagined by goofball pandering ratings-hungry execs, who view the landscape of envelope-pushing pop culture as a lazy blueprint to force-feed the great unwashed.

Limbaugh is a melon-headed lap dog for the Republican Party who fronts a shill-laden attack fest middays for WABC Radio in New York. A national minority of dunderheads who wish the atavistic, two-dimensional social order of the 1950s’ still existed laud his daily harangue. Aside from puppeteer at theme parks, rodeo clown and the guys who hand out pamphlets for strip clubs in Times Square, radio talk show host is the lowest ebb of the entertainment medium. I too have weakly trolled its murky waters, and save for its king, the always highbrow, Howard Stern, Rush is its cream.

ESPN is a 24-hour cable station/youth culture advertising magnet turned media empire with radio affiliates, magazines, movie production companies, and restaurants which mainly cater to fourteen year-old boys, or those who continue to embrace similar prepubescent activities as religion. It is the home office of furious sound bites and dick jokes used to sell beer between video of hockey fights.
WABC is owned by the Disney Corporation, which also happens to own ESPN.

Limbaugh was brought in to add to the already over-the-top guffaw locker room ambiance of a two-hour mess called Sunday Countdown, a show that once provided some semblance of useful sports information but now fits the rest of the station's sub-moronic line-up of bargain-basement comedic geniuses dressed up in the guise of the "American Sports Fan".

Okay, so last Sunday, Limbaugh loudly substantiated his laughably woeful lack of pro football acumen by jabbering a litany of unsubstantiated comments about one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, the Philadelphia Eagles, Donavan McNabb. Limbaugh opined that McNabb, the best player on his team and a perennial star since entering the NFL, was nothing more than a propagandized figment of the Philadelphia media and its desire to see black quarterbacks succeed.

Limbaugh is wrong on all accounts. McNabb is good, very good. The Philadelphia sporting press, well known for vitriolic meandering, has done anything but champion its pro athletes. Consequently, for those actually covering the game, instead of self-promoting, McNabb has taken more shit than he deserves for bad coaching and a vacillating front office.

So Limbaugh clearly demonstrated he knew nothing about the subject he is paid to comment on, lazily substituting real reporting and fair commentary for self-aggrandizing rhetoric, a talent he routinely displays in the realm of socio-political issues daily on his radio show. Only here, he was out of his element, and away from braying sycophants who have raised him to the level of shaman. Knowing Limbaugh's tired shtick about attacking the mainstream "liberal" media and his disdain for "reverse racism", he probably meant to say that the league has gone about over-promoting black coaches and quarterbacks to deflect liberal media criticism. Thus his blather, while curiously racial in theme, was hardly racist.

Predictably, the backlash has been harsh and vocal from black leaders and players, and of course, McNabb and the "liberal media". This prompted this asinine defense of Limbaugh's right to free speech. Wrong again. Firstly, freedom of speech applies to the liberty to espouse whatever theorem enters one's head without government or legal retribution. Limbaugh was not arrested, and no one stopped him from saying what he said, or even edited his comments from the show. He wasn't even fired, which was warranted, as in the case of former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, who went off the rails a few years ago with blatantly racist gibberish. A business does not have to compromise its earning power by harboring an unpopular employee. The Braves could not have a KKK poster boy on the payroll, and ESPN, or specifically Sunday Countdown could not survive a boycott of black NFL players of its telecasts.
Here's your truth.

Limbaugh's commentary signals mission accomplished for Disney. Buzz is created with free press and booming ratings. However, Limbaugh, often heard ranting about the Dixie Chicks and Hollywood types throwing their anti-American opinions around when not warranted, hides behind the "it was merely one man's opinion" and then bails. Let’s face it; Limbaugh is racist like the Dixie Chicks are anti-American, but not unlike every celebrity caught in a bind that might dim the limelight, Limbaugh quit.
The fact is six minutes into the Limbaugh experiment everyone knew it was a mistake, including Limbaugh. It reeked of the kind of desperation that lead Disney into putting comedian, Dennis Miller out of his element to trump up sagging Monday Night Football ratings and start the parade of super models giving agonizingly banal sideline reports. So, with pressure from the top to justify the Limbaugh hiring, the people on the talent side of ESPN riled Limbaugh, a consummate showman who knows well how to put on the peacock feathers when he needs it, to stir the pot. He did. Backlash ensued. ESPN panics. He quits.

Despite window dressing to the contrary, ESPN is not a frat house of rebels and despots. It is a multi-million dollar corporation in the business to sell beer with tits and violence. Limbaugh took its money to whore his free speech card and stammered a badly articulated theory framed clumsily with political propaganda. He used skin color as an unfortunate analogy. Neither he nor ESPN, so hot for attention, could handle standing up to the inevitable public retort. It's okay for Limbaugh and ESPN to hurl this crap at you, but once you bristle at it, its time to run and hide.

ESPN needs sponsors and athletes to exploit for profit. Limbaugh needs to be a puppet of political ideology. Both lose if they vehemently defend his alleged philosophical bravery, so both predictably tanked it, collecting their checks and singing their tired songs of spin. The sick underbelly of this story is simply that too many people in the public arena, paid to act and talk tough, run scared too often. Christian crackpot, Jerry Falwell, smarmy coward, Bill Mahr, stuffy windbag, Trent Lott, Bostionian sad sack, Bob Ryan and a host of others too many to mention, have all apologized or backtracked or resigned under the normal resistance that comes from offering "brave" ideas into an idiom that prefers beer and tits
© James Campion October 3rd 2003


What is your problem? No, really, what are your problems?

In "All Hail Ann Coulter: Champion of the Dumb" (7/2/03) your simplistic cardboard version of McCarthyism is 100% wrong. You wrote of Senator Joseph McCarthy: "A monument to hate bating and paranoia run amok, McCarthy’s legacy is nothing if not noteworthy. He was a tremendous brute of his times, clinically insane and furiously malevolent, a true celebrity monster."
This relies on a discredited version of history that paints McCarthy as one who hunted for Communists and spies that didn’t exist. That view has been dramatically disproven by the release of KGB files and the opening of spy documents (such as the Venona transcripts) that shows that American Communists actively assisted Soviet intelligence efforts in the United States and elsewhere.
Senator Joe McCarthy confronted government officials engaging in a concealment of communist involvement, and uncovered an excessively lax security posture with regards to Communists in sensitive U.S. Government posts. We now know that Alger Hiss, a high level State Department official in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, was indeed a Communist and a Soviet spy, and that the Venona files reveal several hundred Soviet agents in the US Govt, so the fears of anti-Communists like McCarthy were well-founded.
Arthur Herman, in his is new book, "Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator,", goes some way in restoring balance to our views on McCarthy from the familiar broad-brush phony treatment of him as a bogeyman. He says that the accuracy of McCarthy's charges "was no longer a matter of debate," that they are "now accepted as fact." And The New York Post’s Eric Fettmann has noted: "growing historical evidence underscores that, whatever his rhetorical and investigative excesses — and they were substantial — McCarthy was a lot closer to the truth about Communism than were his foes."

Reality Check,
You are a fool. Like most liberals you can't see that Ann Coulter backs up what she writes with facts not innuendos, which is what people like you, Al Franken, and Michael Moore do. You hate Bush. You love Communism. You hate rational thinking Americans. You love Socialism. I'm just curious do people like you eat with utensils or do they have to feed you intravenously? The Democrats pander to the stupid, lazy, gimmie what I want It's not fair that you have more than I do crowd and people like yourself are the crowning jewel in their welfare crown.
Please don't have children.
Chris Pendarvis

Mr. Campion,
Thank you for your viciously brave satirical take on Ann Coulter’s celebrity jones. I have read of some 70 factual errors in her book. She’s better off up Bill Mahr’s ass, where she is most comfortable promoting herself.

On vacation in the outerbanx, NC, read your first book, "Deep Tank Jersey", and enjoyed it for most part. But I felt you "held back" on some real trash and I don’t believe a word about you refusing any young lady's special talent advances. (or you are queer?) Also I thought there was too much about your rock n’ crap fantasy. I really didn’t care much about your insights into yourself.
The end of book could have been a real in depth interview with Monte's future plans and alcoholism. But I must say overall you did a sweet job, just don’t be such a wimp if you’re going in that far anyway. We want more! Gary B.
West Orange

I just wanted you to know I’ve been reading your Reality Check column for a few years now, and I think you are by far the most talented, clever and honest commentator there is around, and I read all sides of the socio-political fence. Sometimes I can’t even believe how right on you are about most subjects. My bet is you attract some pretty crazy wackos from all ends. Anyway, I thought you should know I am a big fan and wanted to say, keep up the good fight!
Debra Cohen

Part One of Georgetown in CA: Arnie in California and other stories
Part Two

ISRAEL - Blinded by the light?

Elton Brand

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