On February 17, 2021, conservative radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh passed away at the age of 70.


From his humble origins as a rock music DJ in Cape Girardeau, MO, Rush rose to become one of the most recognizable names and voices in radio history, media history and of the modern American political scene.


Enabled by the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, The Rush Limbaugh Show went national in 1988, bringing Rush and his “Excellence in Broadcasting” network to radios from coast to coast. At its peak, the program was heard on over 600 radio stations and attracted more than 20 million listeners a week.A cheerleader for conservative causes, Rush was no stranger to controversy. Indeed, in many ways he courted it by, in his own words, illustrating absurdity by being absurd. In doing so, he inspired derision from his opponents as well as the loyalty of his listening audience.


What is the significance of Rush Limbaugh to American conservatism and what influence did he have our modern political culture?


In this episode, we talk with Matthew Continetti, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, about Rush’s legacy and his place in conservative history and conservative politics.


Matthew Continetti – American Enterprise Institute


Rush Limbaugh, RIP: 6 quotations on socialism, the Founding Fathers, and life – Rev. Ben Johnson


Rush Limbaugh on clergy who accept socialism – Rev. Ben Johnson


Rise of the national conservatives with Matthew Continetti – Acton Line


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  1. DJ EJ Member
    DJ EJ

    Good interview, but at the end Continetti is making an apples to oranges comparison between Rush Limbaugh and the figures he mentions – W.F. Buckley, Milton Freedman, and a few others. Limbaugh would not have considered himself an originator of conservative ideas or philosophy, but rather a conveyor and popularizer of them. Continetti’s book sounds like it focuses on those conservative philosophical originators (who wrestled with and worked out what it means to be a conservative), and in that area he’s well-suited and qualified. He doesn’t seem to fully grasp, however, how successful Limbaugh was at harnessing mass media to share and inculcate those conservative principles and ideas to over 20 million people a week for over 30 years. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up reading National Review, but its peak circulation is 150,000 subscribers, and how many people watched Firing Line on PBS? There’s no Limbaugh without Buckley, but Limbaugh’s exponential expansion of conservatism’s reach through the medium of radio should not be underestimated. Perhaps Continetti should let someone with a better understanding of popular media write the chapter on Rush Limbaugh.

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