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Limbaugh Continued
In Dissent, Number One Hundred and Thirty-Six
by Brian S. Wise
6 October 2003

The sooner Rush Limbaugh gets in front of the prescription drug controversy, the better.

Let's say you're a very important man and an internet news site breaks a story about your possibly being serviced orally by an intern at your place of employment. There may or may not be workplace rules about dipping your pen in the company ink, but generally this isn't how one behaves in polite society, so something needs to be done or else your credibility will hit the ground like a spent wad of Redman.

Whatever your proclivity, you absolutely shouldn’t 1) ignore the issue, 2) take to a podium in front of a bunch of cameras, wave your finger at Dianne Feinstein and say nothing happened (i.e., not if something actually happened), or 3) lie about it a few dozen times in two different sets of sworn federal testimony. What you do is present yourself to those same television cameras and say: “The rumors are true. I hope my wife and daughter will forgive me, I hope my cabinet and supporters will forgive me, I need help, I’m sorry.” Even if your opposition is forever irritated and makes claims to your being coated in Teflon, you stood in front of a gathering storm and prospered. The point is, there are right and wrong ways to deal with controversy, something we rarely stop to consider.

Genuine curiosity lead me to listen to the Rush Limbaugh program last Friday (a true rarity) to see how he handled the drug accusations (by that point, the Donovan McNabb question had been answered – in this column and in many others). “The story in Florida is … an emerging situation.” No kidding. “I really don’t know the full scope of what I am dealing with. And when I get the facts, when I get all the details of this, rest assured that I will discuss this with you and tell you how it is, tell you everything there is, maybe more than you want to know about this.” Interesting that there was no denial of the charge, just that someday we’ll know more than we may want to know.

Bill O’Reilly came on the air late last week and reminded his audience that once someone attains a certain prominence, whatever comes from those in opposition appears to be fair game. “America is now a country where character assassination is to be expected if you’re a politician or media big shot. Some of those opposing you are going to try to destroy you …. Right now, there’s a person running around the USA offering people I know $25,000 if they’ll pin some kind of scandal on me,” the point being that it happens, in varying degrees, to all high tier celebrities, of which Limbaugh is one.

To that end, Newsweek reported in its October thirteenth issue: “Limbaugh’s alleged drug use has prompted a stunning bit of speculation – that his hearing loss two years ago may have been caused by high doses of painkillers similar to Vicodin.” Well who was it, besides Newsweek, prompting said speculation? There is no guidance on the question except that “In 2001, researchers at the House Ear Institute discerned a link between Vicodin abuse and sudden hearing loss. That year, the institute began treating Limbaugh.”

Limbaugh has thus far been accused of purchasing OxyContin, Lorcet and hydrocodone … whether any of these end up being “similar to Vicodin” isn’t something I know, and if you’re as ignorant on the question as I am, Newsweek has no interest in helping you, again offering no guidance. “Doctors attributed his deafness not to painkillers, but to a condition called autoimmune inner-ear disease, though they noted that he didn’t display most of the symptoms associated with AIED.” The institute went on to reaffirm Limbaugh lost his hearing over a period of months, so why would Newsweek make the accusation to begin with?

You’ll recall that when Paula Jones surfaced, her accusations were a matter of someone dragging a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park. You’ll also recall that when Gennifer Flowers sold her story to the tabloid Star, there were frantic debates over whether it had any weight, given the details were purchased as opposed to unearthed through some sort of investigative journalism. Wilma Cline was paid somewhere between $200,000 and $600,000 for her story by the National Enquirer, but she also went to the authorities, which ends up being more severe than holding a press conference and playing an audio tape. Obviously, the sooner Limbaugh gets in front of this controversy, the better.

Brian Wise is the lead columnist for IntellectualConservative.com.

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