CNN Rushes Rush[*]
Franken, Al, The Nation
I probably should listen to Rush Limbaugh, but I don't. The way I figure it, I did my time while researching my book Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.
But every so often, Rush is back in the news. Last year, you may remember, Rush was considered for the color-commentator spot on Monday Night Football, so I wrote a short piece for this publication ["Block That Rush!" June 19, 2000]. Even though I hadn't listened to Rush in years, I went out on a limb and said I thought it would be a mistake for ABC to hire him.
Well, recently it was announced that CNN has started discussions with Rush, and The Nation has asked me to comment. So, to be fair to Rush, while driving down to North Carolina on vacation with my family, I turned on the radio and gave Rush a listen.
Rush was scoffing at concerns that the schools of sharks gathering off the coast of Florida might be an indication of some harmful ecological change. He insisted that the sharks were gathering close to shore because the federal government had been discouraging the killing of sharks, and so they were no longer "intimidated" and were simply going to "the food," meaning us human beings. "It's just common sense!" Rush bellowed. This is plain dumb on so many levels that I'm not going to go into it. But it's a little like saying that the reason people from New Guinea are making more trips to New York is to be near the Rockefellers, because they ate Michael Rockefeller in the late 1960s.
The point of Rush's spew was to pooh-pooh global warming, which Rush has insisted for years does not exist. And even if it did, it wouldn't be a big deal. In 1992, he told his audience, "Even if the polar icecaps melted, there would be no rise in ocean levels.... After all, if you take a glass of water with ice cubes in it, as the ice melts, it simply turns to liquid and the water level in the glass remains the same." It's just common sense! Except that Antarctica is not an ice cube. It's a continent.
In some quarters it is thought that CNN went to Limbaugh as a response to the (ridiculous) charge that the network is liberally biased. Rush himself has called CNN the "Clinton Network News"--I guess because during the whole Monica thing, CNN only went with it twenty-three hours a day.
The fact is that CNN has been losing viewers to the Fox News Channel, which purports to be "fair and balanced. …