Leave it to Limbaugh to not mince words. The radio host today sounded off about the overpowering media hype that preceded Hurricane Irene:

“It was a rainstorm and there was a lot of flooding and there were deaths associated with it,” Limbaugh said. “But they hype — folks, I’ll tell you what this was, was a lesson.

“If you pay any attention to this, they hype — the desire for chaos, I mean, literally — the media desire for chaos was a great learning tool. This is a great illustration of how all of the rest of the media in news, in sports, has templates and narratives and exaggerates beyond reality creating fear, so as to create interest. …

“Folks, it’s a national embarrassment, the hype over this hurricane,” he said. “What we have with the media — I’m going to tell you something else — Obama comes off of vacation to lead his nation to the response of Hurricane Irene, to draw contrast with Bush and Katrina. [It’s] part of the re-election effort.”

As I’ve written before, the media’s astonishingly focused attention on Irene raised questions in my mind, as well. If a newspaper uses “end of the world” font on an insignificant story, what will it use when the world actually does end?

But this will be my last post belaboring that point. What matters now is not whether the media overhyped Hurricane Irene in advance but how to recover from whatever damage was done so we can move on to the more persistent problems facing the nation. FEMA reports that more than 5 million people are still without power, the storm has claimed 29 lives to date and one flooded New Jersey house actually exploded. Time for neighbor to help neighbor — and for PEPCO to put a little pep in its power.