On Wednesday, after a yearlong battle with lung cancer, Rush Limbaugh died.
To virtually all conservatives born after 1960, Rush Limbaugh was a seminal figure. To understand his role in the conservative movement, and in America’s politics more broadly, it’s necessary to understand the state of the media B.R. — Before Rush. Before Rush Limbaugh, there was virtually no broadcast conservative media. There were print magazines like National Review; there were conservative books. But conservatives appeared in broadcast media at the sufferance of liberal overlords: Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” appeared on PBS; so did “Firing Line” with William F. Buckley Jr.
Then, in 1987, the Federal Communications Commission finally rejected the ill-advised and ridiculous fairness doctrine, which required those with a broadcast license to present controversial issues in a “balanced” way — a standard that, in practice, allowed for the domination of broadcast media by liberals, with sporadic commentary by conservatives.