You’ve probably never heard of Robert Pittman. He’s a 67-year-old American businessman who was one of the founders of MTV, the first cable music television network in the United States. MTV was launched on August 1, 1981, and initially featured music videos and related programming that was presented by television celebrities who were known as VJs (video jockeys).
From the beginning, some of the content that was shown on MTV was controversial and sexually suggestive, which caused some parents to prohibit their children from watching the new TV station. While Robert Pittman was instrumental in building the MTV network, he later had executive-level positions with several other major media companies, including Warner Communications, Time Warner, America Online, and AOL Time Warner.
In 2010, Pittman invested in and became the Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms for Channel Media Holdings, Inc, which owned Clear Channel Radio, the company that syndicated The Rush Limbaugh Show. When Pittman took over the management of Clear Channel, there were people of influence in the conservative movement who were concerned that Pittman, who had liberal leanings, would sabotage Limbaugh’s show.
In 2012, under pressure from Hollywood celebrities, the mainstream media, and various left-leaning companies, several advertisers abandoned Rush’s show because of comments he had made about a young woman who was an advocate for free government-funded birth control for all women. In an interview with the Associated Press, Pittman called Rush the “king” of radio and said that Rush’s comments were “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio.” He expressed his confidence in Rush by saying that Clear Channel was “delighted to have him.”
Despite his liberal leanings, Pittman made it clear that he was not going to interfere with Rush’s ability to express his beliefs and opinions on his show. Pittman proved that he was willing to adhere to the principle of free speech and that he had faith that the people who listened to Rush were smart enough to decide on their own whether they were willing to continue to listen to Rush. Unlike many of his fellow liberals, Pittman had no desire to exercise control over Rush or the members of his audience.
The first time I heard Rush’s radio show was in the summer of 1993. It occurred while I was driving on University Street in Peoria, Illinois. I turned on my car radio and heard Rush playing the newly released song “Whoomp! (There It Is)” while he was making fun of hoodlums who had been arrested in New York for harassing young women in a public swimming pool. My first thought was Who is this guy, and why is he on the radio? After listening to Rush for a while, I was hooked.
Over the years, Rush made it clear that his first priority was to entertain his audience. He knew that the number one sin for a radio talk show host was to be boring. But he didn’t just entertain his audience. He educated them on the principles and beliefs that were the foundation upon which our great country was built. He talked about the importance of individualism, self-reliance, hard work, freedom, patriotism, and independence.
One of the great qualities that Rush possessed was his ability to educate his audience without them realizing that they were participating in a college-level course. One example of this was when he talked about Alexis de Tocqueville, a Catholic Frenchman who died in 1859 at the age of 53. Tocqueville was active in French politics and traveled extensively. He came to the United States in May 1831 and spent nine months traveling throughout the country.
While he was in America, Tocqueville took extensive notes concerning religious, political, and economic activity. After he returned to France, he published Democracy in America, a book in which he praised the freedom and economic opportunities in America. It was Tocqueville’s belief that America was good because it was established and built on a foundation of Judeo-Christian values.
As Rush grew in popularity, the enemies of our country’s founding principles and our country’s adherence to Judeo-Christian values began to ruthlessly attack him. If the personal attacks bothered Rush, he never let it show. Instead, he made fun of them and acted as though he was superior to them. He frequently and bombastically announced that he had “talent on loan from God” and that he did his radio show with “half my brain tied behind my back, just to make it fair.” His enemies reacted by calling him “the most dangerous man in America.” He responded by saying that he was “just a harmless little fuzzball.”
Why did they think he was so dangerous? Because he had developed an unbreakable bond with the people in “flyover country” — Rush’s term for the area of the country between the West Coast (California) and the East Coast (New York and Washington, DC). For most of the 32 years that he had his national radio show, the show was broadcast on more than 600 radio stations. During the past 20 years, there were over 20 million people who listened to Rush’s show each week.
Why did so many people consistently tune in to his show every week? Because he understood what they were going through, and he listened to what they had to say and treated them with kindness and respect. He was just like them — flawed, but sincere. He admitted to having the same problems and struggles they had. Despite his best efforts, he had experienced some failed marriages. At one point, he became addicted to pain-killing drugs and had to take six weeks off from his show so he could spend time in a rehabilitation facility. He discussed his faults with his audience and proved to them that like him, they had the ability to benefit from and overcome any obstacle or adversity that came their way.
Rush’s comments on his radio show about his talent on loan from God and the fact that he worked while half his brain was tied behind his back infuriated his enemies. To them, Rush was an uncouth hick from Missouri who didn’t deserve to have influence over anyone. His enemies couldn’t stand the fact that millions of Americans actually believed that Rush was superior to his critics.
Rush’s enemies believed that they were the ones who were superior to him and the people who listened to his show. For the most part, Rush’s enemies did not deal with him by offering worthwhile, reasoned, rational arguments to counter what he said. Instead, they responded to his comments by attempting to put him on the defensive by calling him names, such as racist, homophobe, bigot, and hater.
Many of the people who tried to take Rush down graduated from elite colleges and universities. They believed they were superior to Rush because he dropped out of college and then bounced from job to job before he got his big break in radio. While these elite individuals were well-compensated and held highly respected positions in government, corporations, Hollywood, and institutions of higher learning, during the first 33 years of his life, Rush never earned an annual income of more than $18,000. While his enemies wined and dined with other elite members of society, Rush played football with his friends and hung out with average, salt-of-the-earth Americans. The only danger that Rush posed to his enemies was that he was a threat to their egos and their plans to manipulate and control the beliefs and actions of normal, everyday Americans.
Can I tell you who the most dangerous men in America are? They are the ones who actually believe, without a doubt, that they are superior to the rest of us. They genuinely believe that they are solely responsible for creating and developing their own talents and abilities, and that the God they do not believe in didn’t have anything to do with the gifts they were born with or the privileged environment they grew up in.
The types of people I am referring to who believe they are superior to you and me are people like Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook; Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon.com; Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of Microsoft; Jack Dorsey, one of the billionaire founders of Twitter; Sergey Brin, one of the billionaire founders of Google; the so-called intellectuals who teach in our universities and colleges; the politicians; the Hollywood celebrities; the men who run the global corporations, such as Disney (which owns ABC), AT&T (which owns CNN), Comcast (which owns NBC), and ViacomCBS; and the men who are in charge of the other mammoth corporations that control our media and our industries. I call these men “the superiors.”
The superiors genuinely believe that they are vastly superior to you and me. To them, we are mindless sheep who need to be corralled and told exactly what to do. They believe that they have the right and obligation to tell us whom we should listen to and what schools our children should attend. They believe that they have the right and obligation to take our money — the fruit of our labor — so they can give it to people they believe deserve it more than we do. They insist that we do not have a right to our own beliefs, such as the belief that men and women are different and that we should be allowed to call a boy a boy and a girl a girl without getting punished.
How do the superiors punish us for our refusal to obey them? They shut off our ability to use modern technology to communicate with others. They ostracize us from society and cancel our ability to work for their companies and the companies that fear them. If we get too out of line, they work behind the scenes to get us fired from our jobs; then they do everything they can to restrict our ability to find employment with other companies.
The superiors have now become so evil and bold that they are building a network of individuals and companies that will be able to severely limit our ability to function normally in society. If we fail to behave the way they want us to, their goal is to be able to limit our access to goods and services that are necessary for living a comfortable lifestyle.
So you tell me, who is more dangerous, the superiors or Rush Limbaugh? When Rush was on the radio, he was the polar opposite of the superiors. He encouraged his listeners to think for themselves and to stand up for the principles and values that were enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He didn’t try to get his critics fired from their jobs. He proved that he was a decent and honorable man by the way he treated his employees, most of whom worked for him for more than 20 years, some for more than 30 years.
How did Rush treat people who were less fortunate than him? Over a period of 26 years, he raised $47 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by conducting an annual telethon on his show in which he matched the donations of his listeners. He was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top celebrity donors because of the millions of dollars he gave to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity that helps support the children of Marines and federal law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.
In February 2020, Rush revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Despite the severity of his condition, he was hopeful that his doctors would be able to successfully treat it. In October 2020, he told his listeners that the experimental treatment he had received was not working and that he was under a death sentence. He said that every morning when he woke up, he thanked God for giving him another day of life. He finally ran out of days of life on the morning of February 17, 2021, when he died at the age of 70.
While Rush did not wear his faith in God on his sleeve, his family members and close friends say that he was a man of deep faith who really did believe that his talents came from God. It makes sense that he would come up with the catchphrase “talent on loan from God” because he actually did believe that there was a God — an infinitely perfect Supreme Being — who had created him and blessed him with the voice, intellect, and talent that were needed to make him the king of radio for 30 years.
What additional proof do we have that Rush believed in God? He was adamantly pro-life and openly promoted and supported pro-life causes and pro-life political candidates. He advocated prayer in schools, school choice, and virtue-based education. And unlike the men who genuinely believe they are superior to all of us, Rush believed and talked about how each and every person is special in their own way, and how his listeners who were blessed to live in America had the ability to choose their own destiny by working hard, making the right decisions, and treating people like they would want to be treated.
If you think about it, none of the superiors would ever think about saying that they had talent on loan from God, because none of them believe that there is a Supreme Being who created them from nothing. Instead, they believe that they are, in a sense, all-knowing gods who know what is best for the lesser mortal beings who inhabit the earth, and they believe they have the right and obligation to impose their will on those lesser mortal beings.
On Wednesday, February 17, I tuned in to The Rush Limbaugh Show, hopeful that Rush would be hosting the show. It had been two weeks since he had hosted the show, and I was concerned that his health had declined to such an extent that he was no longer physically capable of doing his three-hour radio show. Instead of hearing Rush’s voice, those of us who had tuned in to the show heard the voice of his wife, Kathryn, who courageously and graciously announced the death of her husband.
I’m writing this article on Saturday, February 20. It’s been three days since Rush died. This morning, I told my wife, Georgette, that I felt as though I had lost a close friend, which seemed odd to me because I never formally met Rush. But that really doesn’t matter because on most days during the week, I spent time with him — listening to him, laughing with him, and most importantly, learning from him.
As with the loss of any close friend, it’s going to take a long time for me to adjust to him no longer being a part of my life. I expect that five years from now, I’ll still think of him each day at 11:07 am, which is the time that his show always started. And each time I think of him, I will say a prayer for his soul and for his family. That’s what I always do for the people who were an important part of my life and who left too soon.
I am going to miss his voice, his sense of humor, and his brilliant and insightful lessons about life and the greatness of America.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…