Rush Limbaugh’s legacy

Ashley Herzog
3 min readMar 1

Here’s what I wrote about his life and death two years ago.

Photo by Fringer Cat on Unsplash

Rush Limbaugh’s funeral was today. My take on him and it: yes, he was a pioneer of talk radio who offered a valuable counter to the biased media back when there was no cable, and three networks and a handful of major newspapers had total control over information dissemination in America. On the other hand, he was hands-down the person most responsible for the decline in civility Republicans complain so much about now: he made it normal to see Democrats not just as (mostly) good Americans with different ideas, but as bad people to be mocked and demonized. He famously called 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton the “White House dog.” He issued a half-hearted denial and apology, but the floodgates were open: the era of respectful debate was over, and it was time to let the inner asshole shine! Calling someone ugly, fat, and stupid was okay as long as you could dismiss complaints as “political correctness” and claim you were joking. Rush himself became the target of this, as liberals mocked everything from his weight to his Oxycontin addiction. As horrible as that was, there was definitely a “he started it” component to it — and we’ve been engaged in an endless cycle of what-aboutism ever since. He also made it popular and acceptable to belch out idiotic statements — like saying Sandra Fluke “had so much sex she can’t afford the birth control” even though that’s not how the birth control pill works — instead of ruining the fun with boring facts, like that the birth control pill works (and costs) the same each month whether you have 1 partner or 100. And talk about cancel culture! Limbaugh made it normal to agree with everything he said, and in turn whatever the status quo was at the time. There was even a name for people who agreed with Rush 100% of the time: “Dittoheads.” Being a Dittohead was supposed to be a good thing. Having a different idea meant being a traitor.

In case you think this is a new position of mine, I assure you it isn’t. My mom used to listen to Rush Limbaugh every day when I was little, mostly because there were few other talk shows on the radio at the time. My reaction every time AM 1100 came on between the hours of 12 PM and 3 PM was: Not this shit again. I don’t even remember this, but my mom says I would get upset that Rush bashed Bill Clinton day in and day out for virtually everything he did. When she explained that they had political disagreements, I said, “I don’t care, Bill Clinton is the president, and he shouldn’t be talking about the president like that.”

Of course, in America we can talk about the President any way we want to. It’s just too bad Rush made it so popular to be an obnoxious blowhard about it. I feel sorry for his family’s loss and his suffering due to cancer, but I do not necessarily respect the legacy he left behind.

Ashley Herzog

New account. I’m still a professional journalist, novelist, and radio host. And Catherine’s mom.