The leaders of our elite newsrooms had a whole year to figure out how they were going to frame Rush Limbaugh’s life.
He announced he was dying of lung cancer last February, right before Donald Trump gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. It was a striking moment, symbolic of how thoroughly Limbaugh’s moral rot had infected the body politic, all the way to the presidency and its most hallowed traditions.
In the ensuing months, even the most stubbornly aloof mainstream news organizations began to publicly acknowledge Trump as a liar, a failure, a loser, and an inciter of division and violence.
But calling out the hatred and bigotry that are now firmly established as the central tenets of the modern Republican Party remains a step too far. Our newsroom leaders still cannot bring themselves to declare that the hysteria and conspiracy theories that once inhabited only the lunatic fringes of our political discourse – until Rush Limbaugh, and then Donald Trump, came along – don’t merit respect, but banishment, rejection, and denial.