Rush, the Distraction

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 6 2012 9:09 AM

Rush, the Distraction

DULUTH, Ga. -- On the drive up to see Newt Gingrich address the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, I turned my dial to the Rob Johnson show on 640 am. A caller named Reggie (who sounded African-American, for what that's worth), was ranting about how unfair the world was being to Rush Limbaugh.

"I had a SleepNumber bed on my bucket list," said Reggie. "When they stopped supporting Rush I took that off my list. Why can't they say, oh, we disagree with you, but we support you? What happened to freedom of speech?"

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Rob agreed; he and a co-host bemoaned how the media was so tough on Limbaugh, but never said boo about the liberals who occasionally said horrid things about women. Bill Maher, for example!

I parked and found a marble countertop to perch my computer while Gingrich spoke. Toward the close of his prepared remarks, he reminded the quiet crowd of what the media had been obsessing with this week. "I did three media interviews recently, and in all of them the first question was about Rush Limbaugh," he said. It was the "final attempt" by the "elites" to "smother" the Republican primary and distract people with the trivia. This is basically how Flukeaquiddick has been interpreted by Rush's listeners and fellow travelers. Who can say they're totally wrong?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.