I almost ran off the road when I heard Rush Limbaugh say it. His statement was outrageous and slanderous, but I knew he was probably going to get away with it again. Here are his words on Sept. 8: "She [Hillary Clinton] would receive classified information … It's, therefore, worth a lot to a whole lot of people, who are willing to pay for it. So how does she sell it? … she accepts a donation … or whatever to her foundation, or to her presidential campaign. … In my example, she goes to a briefing, she's been told we're gonna invade Aleppo [the Syrian city] tomorrow. … OK, that's private, super-secret worthwhile information both to people in Aleppo and at ISIS and wherever, in the Middle East."
So in one slimy moment, the radio personality blatantly accused a former U.S. Secretary of State of being a traitor who regularly sold state secrets to our enemies in the Middle East, endangering the lives of U.S. servicemen and the nation's security. Of course, all of this was without one single shred of evidence, as is usual for him. He regularly makes things up out of whole cloth, states them in his know-it-all, authoritarian voice, and thus thereby makes it "true." Never mind the fact that if the Clinton story was even remotely factual, FBI Director James Comey and his crew would have had her behind bars in a wink.
The problem with Limbaugh and his compatriots Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, etc. is that many (most?) of their listeners believe them at face value and with the assumption that if they're on the radio, what they say must be true. In the same broadcast, Limbaugh claimed that "If you donate a dollar to the Clinton Foundation, nowhere near 99 cents gets donated [to charity]. It's something like 30 cents does, if that." In fact, the independent watchdog CharityWatch concluded that about 89 percent of the foundation's funding goes to charity.
Limbaugh's lies pile up like cow patties in a dairy pasture, and it doesn't matter who is hurt. When conservative media attacked former Miss Universe Alicia Machado after she accused Trump of past shaming, Limbaugh began his Sept. 28 show by describing Machado as the "porn star Miss Piggy." His claims and those of Hannity and others that Machado had appeared in adult films were proven completely false, but the filthy slander is still out there, ricocheting throughout the ether.
When it comes to telling the truth or admitting to lies, Limbaugh regularly goes down the rabbit hole to distort the facts. They simply have no meaning for him, if they ever did. On a Sept. 28 broadcast he claimed, "fact-checkers are no different than the biased left-leaning reporters and columnists … the idea that it is a fact-check story is designed to say to you that it is objective and analytically fair, and all it is is a vehicle for them to do opinion journalism under the guise of fairness." So when Limbaugh is caught in a blatant lie, that's just the accuser's liberal opinion.
Limbaugh's fevered attacks are not the only thing that rings false in his show. Not many listeners know this, but many of his callers are really actors reading from scripts. Limbaugh's show is syndicated through Premiere Radio Networks, and it runs Premiere On Call, a service that hires people to call in. These talented voice actors are skilled at asking questions in different accents, so they can be heard more than once in a show. I have become pretty adept at identifying them. Their scripts are usually too well-thought-out and flawlessly delivered, and the dead giveaway is when Rush has anticipated the call by having a well-prepared response. In 2011, Tablet Magazine blew the whistle on this dishonest ruse.
Limbaugh also spends a good deal of time, especially on Fridays, flogging his Rush Revere illustrated history book series for children. I love it when a supposed kid calls in during the school day and raves about Rush's take on history, and Rush gets to mention the release date for the next book in the series. Talk about blatant pandering.
I do admire Limbaugh for his preternatural ability to effortlessly riff on a wide variety of unrelated topics, from the NFL to iPhones to President Obama. I only wish he wasn't fooling some of the people all of the time.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.