Sunday, June 28, 2009

Can anyone help us find this interview in which Rush Limbaugh admitted the extravaganza is all about giving his advertisers value for their $$$?



My friend Ralph, a Philadelphian, had explained that he heard Comedian Rush Limbaugh make the following startling admission in a radio interview. It's pretty well established that this is the attitude of the lord of the dittoheads -- that in fact he doesn't believe any of the stuff he blithers, that it's all show biz, and ratings, and ultimately advertising dollars. I just don't recall him being so indiscreet as to put this on the public record.

Ralph followed up with the following record of his recollections. Can anyone out there help him track this interview down?
-- Ken

Hi Ken . . . and whoever else might be listening!

So let me tell you in print the events.

I go to the gym at 5 AM. All, or most all, of my news comes from NPR. Just prior to 5 AM, and I'm thinking it was just before the election, I heard a British interview with Rush boy.

The interview centered around Limbaugh's cochlear inplants -- he's dead . . . oh, I'm sorry, I meant deaf. Freudian, I suppose.

Anyway, the interviewer wanted the listening audience, who may not be familiar with Limbaugh, to hear a clip from one of his shows, after which Limbaugh says, "I will say anything to obtain confiscatory compensation from my advertisers. You don't get it, it's just show business."

At the time I thought it would be easy to track down this interview on some archive.
Well, eight weeks and I'm ready to open a vein.

I contacted the following: BBC, The Strand, National Public Radio, WHYY (Philadelphia local), Bill Maur. Except for Bill Maur, who hasn't replied yet, all others say they have exhausted all resources.

Can that be? I know I didn't dream this interview! We need to effect a global search pattern!



"We're in radio, we're broadcasters. We have the opportunity to move more people in a substantive way for the good of the country because of that intimacy that radio affords that television doesn't."
-- Rush Limbaugh, accepting an award from Talkers magazine

Commenter Anonymous directs our attention to a post on the website that indeed contains language similar to what Ralph heard in the British interview. It's billed there as an "admission":
Recently, in a speech given in acceptance of a talk radio industry award, Rush Limbaugh openly admitted that his number one priority as a broadcaster is not to influence policy or sway peoples’ opinions. Rather, his foremost priority every day is to attract as large an audience as possible, hold that audience as long as possible, and then deliver that audience to advertisers in exchange for large sums of money.

In fact, though, if you actually watch the 11-minute clip, you discover that this is a clearly willful, even shocking misrepresentation of what Rush said. I have to say, it's a truly brilliant speech, arguing the unique power of talk radio "to move more people in a substantive way for the good of the country."

What the website trumpets as an "admission" is no such thing. That strikes me as a radical misrepresentation of what Rush is actually saying, and we're not talking subtlety or nuance. He indeed says "We're broadcasters first," that "our job is to attract an audience, and to hold that audience for as long as we can, for the purpose of charging confiscatory advertising rates." He makes clear that, yes, radio is a business, and a business he loves.

But he also makes absolutely clear throughout the clip that an absolute prerequisite for what he does is that he does believe in what he says, that he is totally passionate about the beliefs he espouses. It's just that he loves his job as a broadcaster. "I don't want to move to Washington and I don't want to get involved in policy." I think he leaves little doubt about his concern for his on-air credibility in this remarkably well argued section:
[0:33] There are people who want to silence those that say things they don't agree with. That is an ever-present danger, and it's something that we all have to be vigilant against, and the best way to engage in free speech is to engage in free speech, and to not be afraid of what somebody is going to think of what you say.

[0:56] I got a piece of advice when I moved to Sacramento in 1984 -- that was actually my first full-fledged talk show -- and the guy that took me out there, who has since passed away, Norman Woodruff, one of the most important people in my career, said, "Look, we want controversy." Rush explains that unbeknownst to him he was being brought in to replace the fired Morton Downey Jr., who had told a "Chinaman" joke for which he refused to apologize.]

[1:35] "We want controversy, but don't make it up. If you actually think something, if you actually believe it, and you can tell people why, we'll back you up. But if you're going to say stuff just to make people mad, if all you want to do is rabble-rouse, if all you want to do is to stand and get noticed, that's not what we're interested in and we won't back you up."

And I've never forgotten it.

Rush goes on to talk about the intimacy of the talk radio medium, and its unmatched power as an advertising medium. The host who establishes credibility with his audience has that audience "captive," he says.
[7: 13] The host has credibility, captive audience, audience loves the host, thinks the host tells the truth, host advises the product is worthwhile, the product moves off the shelves, bingo -- success! I don't know about you, but that's what keeps me on the air, not what I think about issues, not what I think about who the president is or what he's doing.

That matters. It's a close second, don't misunderstand. But we're in radio, we're broadcasters. We have the opportunity to move more people in a substantive way for the good of the country because of that intimacy that radio affords that television doesn't.

Don't get me wrong either. I hate Rush as much as anybody drawing breath. But he is emphatically not saying that he says stuff to get ratings. What he's saying is the exact opposite: that getting big ratings is what makes it possible for him to say the things he believes on radio.



At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here it is:

At 4:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This had to be the February 27, 2007 episode of "No Triumph, No Tragedy," from BBC 4.

From the description: Peter talks to controversial commentator, Rush Limbaugh, about the prospect of losing his hearing. At the time he risked losing a contract worth over 20 million listeners. Has it changed his attitude to work? Or his political outlook on the disability lobby?

Can't find an audio file but perhaps someone can get a transcript?

At 5:18 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks, Anon and Scott. From Anon's clip, I've done an update.


At 11:18 AM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

No way! No how! Rush Liebaugh is in it for the fame and fortune. His freudian personality erupts each time he opens his mouth.
His brain is affected by oxycotin and various altering drugs.
Any rational thinking person would not endorse Sarah Palin as VP.
Liebaugh is a mess. He's dug himself so far into the extreme right wing that he has infected even the most moderate conservatives. He has nowhere to turn to except extremism and hatred. Liebaugh is the most corrupt individual in America, giving Bin Laden and our enemies more than they could ever hope to grab on thier own, a piece of the American electorate. Fuck Rush Limbaugh! He has the right to say what he wants and we have the right to codemn his thoughts and actions to hell and back. I will never agree that Liebaugh believes any of his dribble. Liebaugh is a parasite, dividing Americans and doing the work that Bin Laden started.

At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop trolling Timmy.

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At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard the BBC interview as well and it's just as described. He said it's all about entertainment and drawing a crowd. I heard the interview while on my car radio, must have been 2005 or so.


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