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Commentary – Rumors about Rush – Don’t believe all the FWs

Rush Limbaugh can be an oaf, and often a hurtful and hypocritical one. While he has given conservative views more of an airing in the public forum than they might otherwise have received, it is doubtful he has much advanced civic discourse. (At least he admits his main role is that of “entertainer.”)
Meanwhile, he has benefited personally from syndication to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, which further funds the monopolization of national radio shows by a few companies. And anyway, it is cheaper for local radio stations to pick up nationally syndicated dreck than to hire their own people.
Still, he has a right to express his opinions, just as people have the right to denounce them.
But his foes would be helpful to their own credibility if they didn’t make up what he said. This is the Golden Age of the Fabricated Quotation, of which Mr. Limbaugh has been a recent victim as he has tried to battle a couple of lies circulated by foes. The fake quotes fed a media fury that helped lead to his being dumped from a group of multi-millionaires trying to buy the St. Louis Rams football team. Many NFL players are African-Americans.
He never said: “I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was bad thing. Quite the opposite: Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.” He never said that. Nor did he say: “You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray. We miss you, James. Godspeed.”
The thoughtless and frantic 24/7 media culture spawned by the Internet and cable television makes the circulation of such concoctions all too easy. We see it too, as some readers, angry and/or with political agendas, send quotes fabricated out of nowhere, assert that fabricated words and phrases come from pieces of someone else’s writing and so on.
More than ever, everything must be triple-checked. A Niagara of baloney. Maybe some of it is because the electronic media create an exaggerated sense of urgency that leads people to send things without checking themselves. Let’s all slow down!
The damage to civil culture from all this is obvious, however faster it is these days to correct such lies than it was before the Internet.
ó The Providence Journal

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