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Opinion: Rush Limbaugh opened the airwaves to extremist commentary and built an empire

February 19, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.3%. 1 min read.

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh broadcasts his program at KSEV radio station in Houston. Limbaugh is known for his controversial conservative politics. (Photo by ?? Shepard Sherbell/CORBIS SABA/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rush Limbaugh was, without question, the most important figure on American talk radio, probably since Father Charles Coughlin, his most conspicuous predecessor.

Rush Limbaugh was, without question, the most important figure on American talk radio, probably since Father Charles Coughlin, his most conspicuous predecessor.

Limbaugh was able to build a talk-radio empire because, while the audience for a similar kind of bigoted, mean-spirited messaging may have been the same (or even larger) than it was in the 1930's, tolerance for it in the media business was much greater.

In cities all over America, local radio stations found voices that echoed Limbaugh's far-right rants.

Limbaugh did not hide his desire to get massively rich from pontificating so bombastically on the radio.

Some sponsors were also remarkably tolerant of Limbaugh, most likely because of the ratings he was pulling in.

Millions of people wanted to know that views that were being disparaged elsewhere as hate-filled or hidebound — like thinking that "the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons"— were absolutely valid.

Dittoheads, as Limbaugh's audience merrily called themselves, and followers of conservative radio voices all over the country, could easily be seen as forerunners of the Tea Party, MAGA and QAnon.

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