When I lived and worked in network television news in NYC in the 1990s, sadly I believed all the lies people in the news industry told about Rush Limbaugh.
Those lies kept me from actually listening to the man himself.
That should have clued me into what the so-called news outlets would do with President Trump years later.
One day as I walked from the subway to my job at CBS News on West 57th Street, I passed a limo parked in the alley. The passenger window was cracked and cigar smoke drifted out of the car. Not a fan of cigar smoke, I wondered who would be smoking that stuff at 9:30 in the morning. When I got to the 9th floor, I asked my officemate Libby who that was. When she told me it was Rush Limbaugh, she offered disparaging comments. Later, in the lunchroom, others chimed in. Rush broadcasted out of the same building.
Thankfully, when we moved to Chicago, a dear friend challenged me to listen to Rush’s show—not just an hour or a day. She challenged me to listen to it for a solid week.
I was stunned. He was nothing that my colleagues in the news had told me. Instead of the sexist, racist, and every other negative “-ist” they offered, Rush Limbaugh was jovial, funny, incisive, generous, and most beautifully, he had a profound love of the United States of America.
His longtime employee, his much-beloved call-screener James Godlen, affectionately known as “Mr. Snerdley,” happened to be black and was one of his most staunch defenders.
Rush was a beautiful storyteller. A few years ago, one of his longtime employees died of cancer. He spent almost an hour speaking extemporaneously about this employee. It was so moving, it brought me to tears.
Born and raised in Missouri, Rush would often tell these beautiful, heartwarming Norman Rockwell stories about his Mom, Dad, and brother, author David Limbaugh. Before Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh was a champion for the Midwestern “forgotten man and woman.” They were his biggest fans.
Rush’s generosity was amazing: If you called his show and were lucky enough to get a free iPhone, courtesy of Rush of course, he would ask what color and model you wanted. If you had no idea, he would offer his formidable advice about Apple products. He loved reading tech blogs.
And if he wasn’t giving away Apple products, he was giving away his wonderful products from the “Rush Revere” store—books and stuffed animals, celebrating and telling the truth about our country’s founding that he developed with his wife, Kathryn. I was surprised by the number of kids who called into his show—kids who are homeschooled and who were voracious readers of the Rush Revere books.
My daughters, Olivia and Isabelle, were preteens at the time and tried calling into Rush’s program to hopefully snag one of those iPhones. It was nearly impossible to get through! I actually got through twice — after being on hold for a good 45 minutes or more! The second time I got through, Snerdly couldn’t take my call because there were only five minutes left in the show. But he was gracious and told me to try again.
Rush made these delicious flavors of tea he called “Two If By Tea,” a riff on Paul Revere’s famous call to patriots. The proceeds of a lot of his products went to the military, wounded warriors, and law-enforcement widows and their families. He even raised more than $47 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society over the course of his radio show in annual telethons. Country music’s John Rich revealed Rush donated $100,000 to St. Jude’s Hospital while Rich was on Celebrity Apprentice—on the condition he remains anonymous.
He had a great sense of humor—even about himself. His show had a hilarious segment of parodies that news outlets would attack as racist, oppressive, conceited—or something. It was mindboggling how they just could not “get” his nuance and humor. Rush would tease that he could fight the Left with half his brain tied behind his back. And he did it from his “Excellence In Broadcasting Network”—aka “EIB Network.”
You could hear him smile through that “golden EIB microphone”—especially when he would say he was “a human being having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have.” He was “The Big Voice.”
Rush was “America’s Truth Detector.” He helped me, a former liberal Democrat, open my eyes to the hypocrisy and inanity of the public policies on the Left. And he did it in a fun, funny way. Even his bumper music—“My City Was Gone” by Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders—had me dancing, whether I was in the kitchen or driving my minivan.
Rush’s wife, Kathryn, opened his program on the day he died to tell the world he was gone due to complications of stage 4 lung cancer. Thankfully, President Trump recognized his extraordinary influence on our country and honored him with a Presidential Medal of Freedom last February 2020. At the time, even liberal Chrissy Hynde praised the award, noting in an “open letter” to President Trump on Twitter that her father was a fan of Rush.
Rush would often tease in a booming tenor that he was “talent on loan from God.”
Now, God has called him home.
Thank you, God, for the gift of life given to Rush Limbaugh, who has blessed so many.
Jasmine Velasco Hauser