Wingnut Week In Review: Rush Limbaugh Is A Big, Dumb Ape
Rush Limbaugh knows less about evolution than the average seventh grader, and it looks like Limbaugh’s own failure to evolve may yet land him on the endangered list.
Rush Limbaugh is confused about evolution (among other things). On his radio show, Limbaugh claimed that if evolution was real then Harambe, the gorilla that was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo when a young boy fell into its enclosure, would have become “one of us.”
“Don’t doubt me on this. A lot of people think that all of us used to be gorillas, and they’re looking for the missing link out there. The evolution crowd. They think we were originally apes… If we were the original apes, then how come Harambe is still an ape, and how come he didn’t become one of us?”
Where to begin?
Actually, this stuff is so easy that even a seventh grader can understand it. It just happens that our oldest son is in the seventh grade, and has spent that past year learning about cells, genes, inheritance, etc., and now his science class is learning about evolution. And I don’t mean just human evolution either. I mean from single-celled organisms to, well, us.
Last night, I sat with our son as he finished some science homework that involved visiting “The Evolution Lab,” a rather incredible site created for the PBS program “Nova,” to help students understand why there are so many different forms of life on earth, and how they’re all related.
His assignment was to use the site’s “Deep Tree” to explore the relationships between over 70,000 different species on the planet. Still shaking my head at Limbaugh’s aggressive ignorance, I decided to see just how easy it is to answer his question, by comparing humans and gorillas.
The answer is so simple, the average seventh grader can understand it. Gorilla’s and humans share a common ancestor who lived 8 million years ago. At that point, the “family tree” branched off, and gorillas and humans evolved independently. So, there’s more than a concrete barrier, a 12-foot drop, and a moat separating you from the gorilla at the zoo. There’s 8 million years of independent evolution.
So, Harambe missed his chance to turn into “one of us” when the family split up about 8 million years ago, and we went in very different directions.
Rush On The Endangered List
Limbaugh hasn’t evolved much beyond the knuckle-dragger stage himself, and it’s landed him and his show on the endangered list. His days of $400 million radio deals are in the past. Ratings hurdles, aging demographics, and radio advertisers who now find him toxic have left Rush and his empire in peril.
A Politico article last month confirmed that Limbaugh’s show is on shaky ground, thanks to an advertiser boycott. In the last few years, he’s been dropped by several long-time affiliates, including some in major markets like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. In other cases, he’s been moved onto smaller stations with weaker signals that cover much smaller areas. All because four years after he sparked a major boycott movement when he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” on the air, advertisers still avoid him like the plague.
Radio is, after all, a business. And that business is selling a product, whether it’s Limbaugh’s show or the stuff advertisers pay top dollar to hawk to Limbaugh’s audience. Damage your brand badly enough and, like Rush, you may never recover.
Perhaps he was drunk with his own power, at the top of the right-wing media pile. Maybe he overestimated his invincibility, due to his army of loyal listeners. But Limbaugh “broke a cardinal rule of radio — not to mention police society,” spelled out by radio industry veteran and former Clear Channel news-talk format chief Darryl Parks in the Politico piece: “Don’t beat up on a woman, and don’t beat up on a [young person].” The reaction was swift and harsh. According to Parks, “Thirty-eight percent of revenue disappeared overnight.”
Groups like Media Matters for America called on advertisers to refuse to buy time on Limbaugh’s show, and for local affiliates to drop it. A “Flush Rush” campaign swept social media, and within months Netflix, JCPenny, Sears, and other companies joined the boycott. Even though Limbaugh later apologized, some 45 advertisers jumped ship. Most haven’t returned.
Limbaugh is likely to feel it come his next contract negotiation. Eight years ago, Limbaugh signed a contract paying him $400 million with Premiere Radio Networks — one that guaranteed Limbaugh millions even if every advertiser dumped him. That contract is ending, and the show is still bleeding advertising dollars. It gets worse. Premiere is owned by iHeartRadio, which was formerly known as Clear Channel. iHeartRadio’s parent company, iHeartMedia, has one foot in bankruptcy court and one foot on a banana peel. The company is struggling under $20 billion in debt, thanks to an ill-advised leveraged takeover masterminded by none other than Bain Capital (yes, that Bain Capital in 2008, the same year Limbaugh signed his contract.
That means, as conservative writer Ethan Epstein put it, wherever Limbaugh goes next, he’ll be taking a significant pay cut for calling Fluke a “slut.”
The success and strength of the advertiser boycott is probably due to a number of factors. The change in demographic trends not only shrunk the GOP’s white working-class “go-to” constituency, but shrunk Limbaugh’s audience. The America that contributed to Limbaugh’s rise is fading, and not even the “Trump bump” in ratings, from ascension of Donald Trump to presumptive GOP nominee can bring it back.
Limbaugh’s not going away, though. He still has a remnant of an audience, and whether or not he stays with Premiere Radio Networks, he’ll talking somewhere. But he’ll be doing so for a smaller audience, and a lot less money
Here’s the best of the rest of the worst in wingnuttery this week:
- Creationist Ken Ham went a little bonkers on Twitter, castigating the media for focusing on Harambe when there are legal abortions happening. Besides, Harambe was a “sin-cursed animal” not even “made in God’s image.”
- Gun Owners of America president Larry Pratt said on his radio program that if states do not implement voter ID laws to prevent widespread “voter fraud” in November, right-wing gun advocates will have to “resort to the bullet box.”
- A Donald Trump delegate from Tennessee said in an interview with Mother Jones magazine that he believed certain US leaders should be forced to adhere to his interpretation of the constitution, or killed. “The polite word is ‘eliminated,‘“ said Trump delegate David Riden. ”The harsh word is ‘killed.’”
- Religious right activist Peter LaBarbera said on his “Pray in Jesus Name” program that President Obama has been the greatest promoter of “moral evil” in history, for advising public schools to protect the rights of transgender students.
- Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins said on D. James Kennedy’s program that Christians are being forced into “spiritual ghettos” by “the left,” because they want the legal right to discriminate agains LGBT people.
- Speaking at a Watchmen on the Wall conference in Washington, DC, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) declared that he would face “crucifixion” before abandoning his state’s radical new anti-LGBT law.
- In a bizarre rant to WorldNetDaily, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson lamented the passage of the “good old days,” when a man could just shoot a transgender person, to protect his family of course.
- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) stepped up his crusade against transgender students. Patrick told reporters that he asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for an opinion on whether the Forth Wort Independent School District broke the law when it adapted guidelines allowing students to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identities. Patrick also said he would send a letter to all Texas School districts, advising them to ignore a similar directive from the federal government. Parents of transgender students held a separate press conference condemning Patrick’s moves as “a literal pissing contest.”
- Fox News host Stacey Dash lashed out in support of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT discriminatory law. During an interview to support her new book, Dash told Entertainment Tonight, “It’s tyranny by the minority. Why do I have to suffer because you can’t decide what you wanna be that day?” Dash said. “OK, then go in the bushes.”
- William Gheen, head of the anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) told WorldNetDaily that the remake of the famous 1977 miniseries “Roots” is part of a globalist plot to “agitate black voters into voting for Democrats” and spark anti-white violence.
- Religious right activist Dave “Coach” Daubenmire said on his “Pass the Salt” program that Christians are not obligated to help Muslims, or any other non-Christians for that matter.
- Rob Pincus, a “home defense concepts” instructor at the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., advised parents to store firearms in their children’s bedrooms. Never mind that 265 people were accidentally shot by kids last year.