Did Rush Limbaugh really tell his caller, “Tony from Tampa,” to not watch FOX? No, he told his caller not to watch a particular panel of “liberals” on FOX Business Channel. As Mr. Limbaugh was very quick to point out: “I did not tell anybody to stop watching Fox. I said stop listening to these people that make you so mad. What else am I going to say? … I will be on Fox again, I will be urging people to watch Fox, Fox is the most watched news network in the country … Fox and I are on the same team.”
Remarkable, isn’t it?
There is a hint of dissonance in the echo chamber and even one of its big, unassailable, uncriticizable actors is quick to sound the note returning the entire orchestra back into harmony. The machine proves itself self-correcting, as to even its principal players.
Note also that Limbaugh’s advice to “Tony from Tampa” is to turn off messages that he finds displeasing: “They’re designed to make you question your sanity. You’re gonna watch these people, you’re gonna say, ‘How in the world can we have such idiotic people?’ and you’re gonna think maybe they’re not and you’re crazy.” If a fact or an opinion generates displeasure, the appropriate response is to silence yourself from it. Not to engage it, not to learn more about it and determine if it is right or wrong. Not to challenge it. Just turn it off. Better to hear nothing than to hear something that makes you angry or worse, that might make you question your existing opinions.
But perhaps the most interesting thing is how Limbaugh explains why no, no, FOX is a good thing and those mean ol’ liberals at POLITICO have twisted his words: he endorses FOX (so it must therefore be good), lots of people watch it (so it must therefore be good), and that last bit — Limbaugh and FOX are “on the same team.” What team is that, exactly? Last I checked, Limbaugh has his own company, which is independent of FOX. Is this a “team” of companies operating for mutual profit? For a political agenda? Yes, those two can dovetail, but they are different goals. And while Limbaugh’s media enterprise and FOX’s might each benefit from the other’s existence, they are different enterprises.
Personally I find these remarks indicative of a truth our man Tod Kelly has articulated here — the contemporary conservative political movement appears to be driven by and for the benefit of the conservative media, not the other way around. It lacks foci for political leadership and thus accepts right-wing media leadership in its place. And that “leadership” appears to be locked on autopilot and no one appears to have the ability to alter its course.