Wednesday, July 24, 2013

See, I Had to Look Up Something Limbaugh Said, And...

I have a new column up at the Prospect about the long-term political effects of health care reform, and more generally the theory of a liberal plot to craft a permanent majority for Democrats by making the majority of voters dependent on the government -- the theory, really, behind the GOP "47%" obsession. Basically, I call nonsense on it. I think it's a good one, so please check it out.

Meanwhile, I had to track down a good Rush Limbaugh quote for it, and found this:
But they also want people to use Obamacare as a gateway to more government dependence.  So the more people that sign up for Obamacare, the more they're signing up to be lifelong Democrats.
But that's not what this item is about. This item is about the Limbaugh screed where I found that quote. It's from a couple weeks ago -- July 11 -- during the publicity about Obama Administration plans for advertising the exchanges. Which Rush turned in to: "People Aren't Signing Up For Obamacare."

That's right: past tense. Well, okay: present tense. In Rush world...well, I'll give you the flavor for it:
But nevertheless this guy at Forbes has done the research and found out that people are just not signing up -- young people particularly, and that's who the regime really wants.  They need them to pay the freight! They need young people who are not gonna be pulling much out of the system in terms of health care treatment, paying the freight for the elderly who need all the care.

That's not happening...
So there's this long screed about how Obamacare is a flop because no one is signing up, but nowhere in it does Rush happen to mention that the exchanges open for business on October 1. All this "not signing up" isn't actually happening (among other things, Rush conflates findings about past-tense Medicaid-eligibles who don't use it with future-tense exchange-eligibles who might or might not use it).

I mean...look, I've listened to a fair amount of Rush Limbaugh over the years. And of course I've seen plenty of selected quotes from him, especially the ones pulled out (usually fairly, sometimes not) to make points about how awful he can be.

But I think what this points to is just the low-grade constant drum of misinformation being injected into the world by Rush, and by similar talk show hosts. I'm not even talking about the core irrationality of the piece -- um, if choosing to advertise means that the product is in trouble, it's amazing that McDonald's, Budweiser, and Coke have survived. The thing is that a smart listening could figure that part out. A skeptical listener might discount Rush's reports of trouble with the program...say, by applying some "partisan bias" discount to whatever the talk show host claims. But there are simply no internal cues available to help even a relatively well-informed listener understand that Rush has botched the basic facts here so badly that there's really no reliable takeaway at all.

Okay, that's enough. Just worth noting -- when we talk about a conservative information feeback loop, it's stuff like this that we're talking about, just as much as it is more obviously partisan fabrications (such as the myth of the thousands of IRS agents hired to enforce the ACA) or the more complex theories, such as the one I wrote about today.


  1. What drives me nuts about Limbaugh is not the positions he takes or the principles he claims to hold, but that he is utterly indifferent to whether what he is saying is the truth or not. He's not even really a liar, because that implies that he knows he's saying something that is untrue. He simply doesn't care whether it's true or not.

    Take this business about young people signing up for Obamacare: It would take him (or someone on his staff) five minutes to find out whether it was true. But why would they do that? It does his program no favors at all to determine the truth of what he's saying. You can't fill four hours a day by saying, "We checked this out, and it's not true, so let's talk about something else."

    You'd think at some point, people would get tired of being told fairy stories about those EEEvil Democrats. But we haven't reached that point yet.

    1. Limbaugh makes the right nativist/xenophobic/bigoted/sexist noises, and that's why he has the undying trust of the nativist, the xenophobic, the bigots, and the sexists. Him being wrong on the facts can never change that. He's one of US, not one of THEM.

      His most offensive remarks are actually the ones that keep the audience coming back for more, because they are signals that Limbaugh is part of their identity group.

  2. My dad, the racist conservative, would always respond to complaints like Jonathan's with a quote from Man of La Mancha:

    Facts?? Facts are the enemy of Truth!!

    And he really, really believed that.

  3. This is one reason that most people don't take the conservative media seriously as a source for news. They mix utter falsehood in with whatever truth there might be, so you don't know what to belief and you end up doubting everything.

    I can't believe anything I read in conservative media because their standards are so low that this fake stuff gets reported and spread. Until some legacy organization with actual fact-checking reports it, who knows if it's true? (Like Friends of Hamas recently.) If the MSM media was as bad, then there would be no one with a reputation for being even mostly honest, and news would be a crapshoot.

    The weirdest thing is how self-congratulatory the Limbaugh audience is for being intelligent and thinking about the issues.

    Occasionally, one of his listeners will have an inkling about a discrepancy in one of his arguments. Here's a case concerning Planned Parenthood. It's funny but also worrying how readily Limbaugh handles the chinks in his argument.

  4. Something else too--does this qualify as lazy mendacity? It seems to have some aspects in common, like being untrue, and fitting the narrative you want to convey.

  5. Well, Limbaugh is sorta like you lefties. He isn't moving, and neither are you. So it's ironic that you complain about each other.

    1. please stop ruining the good name of anonymous with this lefties, statists, and obamabots nonsense.

  6. Just to supplement the point, notice that Limbaugh also says Obamacare "needs young people paying the freight for the elderly who need all the care." I may have missed something, but is there a single American 65 or over, even one, who is going to be insured through Obamacare? Isn't there some other program already out there for those folks?


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