Recap: Week One of “Six Weeks of Rush” turned out to be the dullest high school media literacy course ever

When I started my Six Weeks of Rush challenge on the first of the month, I didn’t know what to expect from the show, and I didn’t know how I’d comment on it. I started off by checking facts and critiquing assumptions, but I quickly realized that this was pointless. The lies, manipulation and flawed logic that Limbaugh deals in are far more obvious and “textbook” than I’d expected, and the feedback I got when I pointed out examples made me feel like I was preaching to the choir.

In fact, despite my best efforts, I only heard from two Rush listeners during the first week. One was a fellow from Mississippi named Robin, with whom I’m negotiating a trade of some of Canada’s conservatives for some of America’s liberals. The other was a lovely woman named Nola Gurl, who you may remember from the comment thread following my original post about the project, and she only tweeted because she thought it was unfair of me to allude to Rush’s admitted abuse of prescription drugs.

For the record, I think this offhand remark was totally fair. As near as I can tell, there’s only one difference between my ad hominem jab at Rush and most of the personal attacks he lobs at liberals for three hours a day on the national airwaves: my jab was actually true. In that respect, it also goes to the heart of Rush’s (ahem) credibility, since he’s called for stricter drug laws and said that “too many whites are getting away with drug use.”

Why, then, is it unfair to criticize or question a man who makes his living condemning “feminazis” and liberal boogeymen? Wouldn’t I have to get my own nationally syndicated radio show just to make it fair?

I do hope this isn’t just a case of being able to dish it out, but not being able to take it. I mean, it obviously is for Rush, who carefully screens his calls and doesn’t tend to do very well in front of audiences he hasn’t hand-picked. But I won’t just assume that the same is true of his fans. At the very least, I’d have to acknowledge that it’s also true of far too many liberals.

Again, I quite like Nola Gurl, and I’m happy to assume she just wishes everyone, conservative or liberal, was more civilized and polite. I do too. How you’d reconcile that with being a Limbaugh fan is beyond me, but again, I’m new to this.

Anyway, instead of just fact checking and arguing, I’m going to start treating this as a media criticism teaching exercise, and a very basic one at that. I’ll keep reaching out to new liberal and conservative followers, but also to people interested in things like journalism, politics, civility and honesty. That’s a more worthwhile discussion, and I invite you to follow @SixWeeksofRush¬†on Twitter to get involved. Thanks!

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