Monday, July 7, 2008

If you don't listen to Rush, you can't hate him

Since Rush Limbaugh just landed a new contract extension, he has been the basis of a few discussions I have had recently.

I have twice in the past week had people I respect tell me they do not like Rush Limbaugh for one reason or another. And both times I asked a question that pretty much put an end to the discussion: "Do you ever listen to Rush?"

The answer both times was a resounding no. Now, it is important that I mention here that both of these friends consider themselves conservative republicans, and both are very good friends of mine. But I also don't think it is fair to be criticizing a man you never listen to.

That would be like me writing on this blog that the New York Times is a bias media outlet if I never read that newspaper, of which I do on a regular basis. Sure, I don't pay the money to have the actual paper delivered to my house, but I click on their website and read what they make available for free.

That would be like a person criticising the President of The United States of America when that person never voted. If you didn't take the time to vote, what gives you the right to criticize. If you do not listen to the president, how can you criticize him.

I truly believe, that in this time crunched society we live in, that most people do not read the news every day, and many people who do read the news take to heart what they read. And the 40% of Americans who consider themselves associated with one party or another read only those writers of whom they agree.

To me, that is a grave mistake. If you only listen to those of whom you agree, if you get all your news from one source, if you believe everything you read, then you are in effect making yourself more ignorant. Am I far off here? Correct me in my comments if you disagree with me.

I do not sit here on the Internet only reading Fox News because I'm conservative, or only CNN because I consider myself a liberal. I like to read both Fox News and CNN because I want to get all the news I can absorb in my tiny brain. I want to read not only the opinions of conservative columnists, I want to know what liberals are thinking too.

How the heck would I be able to form a fair and unbiased and well educated opinion if I only considered one POV. And I think, to use Rush as an example, that the majority of people who listen to his program are conservative. Most people who listen to his show are intelligent people. In fact, according to one poll, Rush was listed as having one of the most educated audiences.

But, to state a point here, Rush pretty much preaches to the choir. Most of the people, but not all, who listen to his daily three hour program agree with him on a majority of what he talks about. Actually, not all conservatives and not all republicans see eye to eye on all issues, but for the most part, when all is said and done, most of them will vote republican. In fact, they tend to be the sure voters (if the republican candidate can sure up the base, of whom these guys are.)

Still, I believe that one must consider both sides of the political spectrum, both liberal and conservative point-of-views lest you are not an expert, and not a credible debater in the arena of ideas. Thus, how can you tell my that my idea that tax cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy is a crappy idea, if you have never studied up on how I think; if you have never educated yourself on supply-side economics or Reaganomics.

That is why I do not read everything Rush writes. I do read some of his transcripts, but I blend this in with plenty of other readings from Fox, CNN, MSNBC, BBC,, Grand Rapids Press, LAtimes, and this list goes on and on. Likewise, the columnists are out there from all POVS. And there are several other sources of all POVs to look at once in a while too.

And we must not forget all the brilliant analysis in the blogosphere. We must not simply read writings that we agree with, but mingle this in with a dab of bloggers with opposition viewpoints.

I don't care what Rush Limbaugh's opinion is. That might come as a shock to most of you guys, but it's true. He could be trying to convince people global warming existed, and I would still pay attention to him. He would still have an audience, so long as he was completely honest in his opinions and did not sway with every change in the wind (as politicians tend to do.)

His opinion doesn't matter to me. What I like about Rush is the way he teaches people to think and analyze above and beyond what we read in the news or learn in school. That kind of thinking is similar to what I was taught by my grandparents and parents. And I think that is what impresses me most about the guy.

He has taught us this:

We, as a nation, should be able to read a journalistic article and look beyond the editorial content. We should be able to see the facts it contains or -- better yet-- what is missing. We should not simply believe everything we read, but to make our own decisions, form out our own opinions. And we should do this not just based on what's right before us in black and white, but also from what we read between the lines.

We should make our decisions based on BOTH what is laid out before us in black and white and what is NOT. Making an informed decision is not easy. I certainly Hope people reading or listening to men like Rush don't believe what he says just because. People should believe what he says because of the facts presented, or because what he says makes more sense than what other commentators say.

Either that, or people should disagree with Rush based on informed information they have obtained that proves, in their opinion, that Rush is wrong. Or that they have formed an intelligent decision based on the facts that Rush does not make sense. Still, if you do not listen to Rush, you have no right to hate him.

Rush likes to say that he does the job of analyzing the news that the media used to do. I think people like you and me read the news, and see things in there that are pure poppycock; which is what editorials used to analyze the hell out of.

His analyzing skills, coupled with the fact he is an entertainer first, are the main reasons he has 24 million viewers on a weekly basis, and why his is absolutely worth the money he will be getting paid via his new contract extension.

I'm pretty confident that Rush knows that not every one who listens to him agrees with everything he says. What is important to him, I think, is that we learn to think for ourselves; to see past the rhetoric, the bloviating, in the media and from politicians.

We, as responsible citizens, must learn how to analyze the news on our own, considering the media may not always do so in a fair minded way. Better yet, the media now-a-days tends to cater to an audience, because it is that audience that pays the bills. If the audience is liberal, so too will be the news and opinions of the paper.

One thing I enjoy doing is reading the news and saying to myself, "Hey, that's not true. You're only reporting half the story here." And then I do a little research to find out if I am right or wrong in my opinion. That is analysis.

We need more of it. And since not all of us have the time to analyze on our own, we rely on the media. When we feel we are not getting a fair analysis by the media, we have men like Rush to help us make informed decisions -- something some of us do not do.

That's why Rush is good for America. And, if you do not like him, it should be because you have read his transcripts or listened to his show with an open mind and truly analyzed what he said.

And that, my friends, is the thought of the day.


Nikki said...

Hey Freedom. I agree with most of your opinion here. I used to listen to Rush when he first started and also watched his short lived TV show. I remember feeling exhilerated at my views being publicly represented. I admit that I did get turned off by all of the scandals with drugs etc. and don't listen much anymore. I am amazed at how many liberals listen to Rush. Its hilarious that they call conservatives brain dead Rush listeners and he has just as many libs listening as conservatives it seems to me. Interesting post. I like the Drudge report for a vast view of what is happening. CNN online is more user friendly and of course the blogs! :)N

Ben said...

Personally, I don't trust anybody in the mass media because everybody has an agenda. As you say, the best way to really "get" what's going on is to read a number of sources, consider multiple points of view, and then peg the truth as being somewhere in the middle.

As for analysis, I like to read "Reason," the libertarian publication. I find their perspective refreshing, but as I mentioned before, I take it with a grain of salt.