Let me get this out of the way now: I think Rush Limbaugh is a sausage casing stuffed with norco-infused Twinkie filling. I think he rots brains and poisons hearts and has a truly harmful effect on the people who listen to him.
But I don’t think he thinks hurricanes are fake.
You’ve probably noticed we’re in the middle of a hurricane pandemic, with Harvey having laid waste to Houston, Irma bearing down on Florida, and Jose and Katia forming up. If this were a SyFy Channel movie, we’d be at the point where all the hurricanes merge into a hypercane, and the war-happy president orders the hypercane be broken up with nukes, but all the nukes do is make the hypercane a nuclear hypercane, and the only person who can stop it is Michael Dudikoff, or his millennial equivalent.
(side note, I will absolutely write this movie for money)
Currently, Irma is about to unleash hell on Florida, which is the home of Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh is a conspiracy theorist, and earlier this week, spun a whopper of a plot: that hurricanes like Irma aren’t to be feared, because their severity is exaggerated by a cabal of climate change pushers and big box stores.
Here’s what Rushbo said on Tuesday:
“So there is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it. You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic. You don’t need a hurricane to hit anywhere.” … “All you need is to create the fear and panic accompanied by talk that climate change is causing hurricanes to become more frequent and bigger and more dangerous, and you create the panic, and it’s mission accomplished, agenda advanced.”
As if that wasn’t crazy, stupid, and dangerous enough, he added:
There is symbiotic relationship between retailers and local media, and it’s related to money. It revolves around money. You have major, major industries and businesses which prosper during times of crisis and panic, such as a hurricane, which could destroy or greatly damage people’s homes, and it could interrupt the flow of water and electricity. So what happens?
Well, the TV stations begin reporting this and the panic begins to increase. And then people end up going to various stores to stock up on water and whatever they might need for home repairs and batteries and all this that they’re advised to get, and a vicious circle is created. You have these various retail outlets who spend a lot of advertising dollars with the local media.
The local media, in turn, reports in such a way as to create the panic way far out, which sends people into these stores to fill up with water and to fill up with batteries, and it becomes a never-ending repeated cycle. And the two coexist. So the media benefits with the panic with increased eyeballs, and the retailers benefit from the panic with increased sales, and the TV companies benefit because they’re getting advertising dollars from the businesses that are seeing all this attention from customers.
Big Water + Big Local News + Big Climate Change = $$$$. And only Rush figured it out.
A couple of days later, Irma’s path is more solidified, and as it turns out, it’s literally headed right for Palm Beach, and for Rush. So you’d think that, because the hurricane is pretty much fake news, Rush would broadcast from the front lawn of his Saddam-esque palace, smoking a stogie and sunning himself while the sheeple tear each other apart for overpriced palates of Dasani, right?
No, Rush is evacuating. But only for legal reasons.
“May as well… announce this. I’m not going to get into details because of the security nature of things, but it turns out that we will not be able to do the program here tomorrow. We’ll be on the air next week, folks, from parts unknown.”
Major media outlets tripped over each other to call Limbaugh a hypocrite for running away from a hurricane he said wasn’t a big deal.
But I don’t think Limbaugh is a hypocrite. Of course he was going to evacuate, and of course he’s going to say hurricanes are liberal science plots to sell water and electric cars.
He can say that because his followers have been beaten down by thirty years of conservative media to hold two simultaneous opinions that contradict each other, and to purchase products that will protect them from these opinions. He says it because it’s his job and what his fans expect him to say.
Limbaugh doesn’t think Irma is fake. But his followers can be coaxed into thinking so.
We shouldn’t expect anything less from Limbaugh, because this combination of fear and cognitive dissonance is the bread and butter of the conservative infotainment complex.
We saw it time and time again during the Barack Obama years. Obama was consistently presented by right wing media as both absurdly weak (“They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates” – Sarah Palin) and a brutal tyrant (“”Let me be very clear. I believe the President of the United States, Barack Obama, is a dictator,” – Maine Governor Paul LePage).
To the right (and, to be fair, some on the left), Obama was both a Muslim and the acolyte of a radical Christian preacher. He was a racist who hated white people, while also being ashamed of his mixed-race heritage, and also being the sole reason racism against black people still existed. He founded ISIS, but also golfed while plotting to kill Osama Bin Laden, which he also faked. He was a limp-wristed peacenik and a vicious killer, a constitutional lawyer who didn’t know anything about law or the constitution, etc.
He was puppet-master and puppet all at once. And it made perfect sense to those inclined to believe it.
Limbaugh and his hurricane nonsense is a good example of how cognitive dissonance has eviscerated conservatives’ ability to think critically, but an even better example is Alex Jones.
The Infowars publisher has spun a media empire from contradiction, moving the goalposts, and selling products to protect you from a vague, shit-hits-the-fan scenario whose parameters are constantly changing, and which might just be an illusion.
- Own a gun because you could be killed in a mass shooting at any time, and mass shootings are false flag drills that are faked to lull us into a false sense of security.
- The government creates hurricanes through weather weapons, so buy survival gear and food storage to survive them, even though Trump is now the president, and Alex Jones has great power over Trump, so theoretically, they should have stopped.
- The world is ruled by Satanists, but also by Jews, who don’t actually believe in Satan.
- The U.S. faked the moon landing, but also has child slave colonies on Mars.
- The powers that be are planning to destroy you with fluoride, radiation, and gay bombs. Only the supplements InfoWars sells can stop them. The powers that be, for some reason, have done nothing whatsoever to stop me from selling these supplements. Please don’t think about this contradiction.
Rush Limbaugh doesn’t spew conspiracy theories about hurricanes and water companies because he believes them. He spews them because he’s trained his listeners to believe them. He knows it doesn’t matter if he runs away from a storm that’s no big deal, because the people who pay his bills won’t call him on it. They’ll create a reason why he “really” ran away, and the whole thing will be forgotten.
And if a few of his listeners think he was right, and don’t evacuate, and die as a result, well, hey, Rush was just asking questions.