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If that self-serving story was ever plausible—I long argued that misleading the base about the truth would have terrible costs—it should not have survived the Bush administration, when the GOP limped from crisis to crisis, utterly failing to govern effectively.But even as the Tea Party rebelled, its members all but forget that talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh were as complicit in Bush administration failures as anyone.Having done so little to protect respect for facts or norms against bad behavior, anti-Trump conservatives couldn’t stop Trump from exploiting their absence. For most of the 15 years that I occasionally dipped into his syndicated radio show and his Fox News programs, I seldom wrote about his oeuvre, even as I published right-leaning criticism of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Ann Coulter.He seemed less hateful than they were; and while he frequently misinformed his audience, he was somehow less indecent—he mostly didn’t seem to be speaking in bad faith, if only because he didn’t know any better than the simplistic boilerplate he regurgitated.He kept carrying water for a Republican Congress through the worst of its corruption.And his dishonesty helped delay the moment when his listeners would see reality. Most movement conservatives not only ignored talk-radio’s failures, but kept abiding the most vile populist commentary as the Obama administration began.
Insofar as they did so with dishonest rhetoric, it would only benefit more sober politicians and intellectuals.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the right even embraced Glenn Beck’s rise on Fox News, where a typical show included manic, semi-coherent monologues and vast, sinister conspiracy theories presented for credulous viewers on giant chalkboards.
Roger Ailes proved himself a deeply unethical man by broadcasting that show.
Back in 2000, Limbaugh helped make the case for a legacy-admissions president.
Then he indulged in the magical thinking that got so many Americans killed in Iraq.