Conservatives lost their strongest voice this past week with the passing of talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The 70-year-old radio icon died of cancer his wife, Kathryn, announced live on his radio show last Wednesday.
With the outbreak of the news at 11 a.m., conservatives were deeply saddened and many on the left were delighted and celebrated his passing with glee.
Regardless if you were someone who was a valiant 30-plus-year listener or you abhorred every word he said, one thing was certain - Rush was insightful about politics. Throughout his entire radio career, he seemed to always have a knack at predicting what politicians on both sides of the aisle were thinking and their plots and plans for the future. He was gifted at analyzing the heart and soul of Washington and was continually a step ahead, explaining what was going to happen before the maneuvers were even made.
His prophetic-like predictions made him right, in his own words, "98.8 percent of the time." He would often explain a complicated issue in great detail and would then predict what was going to happen. If he ever followed through with the phrase "don't doubt me on this," his listeners knew it was a certainty as sure as Noah knew a flood was coming.
As a journalist, I can't help but be amazed at what he accomplished. While I did not always agree with his views on different issues, the fact is he totally changed the radio news talk format and, according to many, saved the AM radio band.
To understand how Rush was able to accomplish this feat, it is important to first understand some history of the media. In the time of what conservatives call B.R (Before Rush), there wasn't a strong conservative voice in broadcast media. Then, in 1987, the FCC did away with the Fairness Doctrine, which was a rule that required anyone with a broadcast license to present the news in a seemingly fair and "balanced" way. However, conservatives of the day merely viewed it as a way for liberal media moguls to continue to dominate the airwaves with leftist views while having a sporadic bit of conservative commentary thrown into the mix.
The doing away with the Fairness Doctrine opened the door for conservatives to finally have a share of the broadcast airtime. Enter Rush Limbaugh.
The host came in on the static of the all-but-dead AM dial, which of itself was an act of resistance to the dominant liberal media networks. He was irreverent yet funny, and contrary to the thoughts of his opponents, he was insightful. He reached an audience that was getting forgotten with the coming in of the '90s, and conservatives had found a champion. His fighting attitude was motivational to those on the right.
Even though he was hated by the left and the vast majority of the media anchors and hosts (referred to by Rush as the "drive-bys"), they had to admit that he was indeed the leader of talk radio and of the conservative movement. Very rarely would a day go by without the insights of Rush Limbaugh being reported on by those very "drive-bys" that loathed every word he said.
The fact is, they, too, listened to get insights on the conservative thoughts and viewpoints and gauged the political winds of conservatism through his words. For that reason, liberals are going to miss the words of Rush almost as much as his conservative listeners. Rest in peace, Rush. You can now return the talent on loan back to God.
Randy Gibson is the CEO of RDG Communications Group, LLC, and the former director of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Texas State Rifle Association.