And that's why ABC is including the right-wing hate talker in a primetime special of the year's most fascinating people.
Because naturally, in a year when the country turned blue ABC should definitely celebrate the success of right-wing radio radio, right?
Of course this is how the how media elites have treated Limbaugh for years; he's not a hate merchant, he's an engaging entertainer. He's not hack, he's influential. Y'know, the way he was able to rally conservatives last winter to reject John McCain as their party's nominee and the way Limbaugh's non-stop attacks on Barack Obama were able to turn the tide of the general election.
Okay, those were complete failures and only highlighted Limbaugh's growing political irrelevance. But for celebrity journalists like Walters, the Limbaugh script was written long ago--he's fascinating. Anxious for his right-wing seal of approval (and spooked by his liberal bias charges), the mainstream press corps has for years treated Limbaugh with undeserved respect, worked to soften his radical edges, and presented him as simply a partisan pundit.
That's why Time's Mark Halperin has labeled Limbaugh an "American iconic" figure, while NBC News anchor Brian Williams fretted that Limbaugh doesn't "get the credit he is due" as a broadcaster.
Do you think there was any other reason the New York Times showered Limbaugh with attention this summer, with a laudatory Sunday magazine cover story (penned by a professional dittohead) that painted him as the brains of the GOP; "a polemicist and public intellectual."
To the 'liberal' New York Times, Limbaugh's a "funny," "public intellectual" who produces "fluent, often clever political talk" and who also "instructs" and "teaches."
And now Babs agrees.
Here's a friendly wager. I'll donate $5 (hey, we're in an economic crisis) to Walters' charity of choice for each of the following questions shes asks Limbaugh in primetime:
*Do you still think that' "what's good for Al Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party in this country today"?
*Can you explain how Obama "loathes America"?
*Do Democrats really "hate this country"?
*What makes you think "Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me' " to African-Americans and gays"?
*What makes you think philanthropist George Soros is a "self-hating Jew"?
*Why did you call Sen. Tom Daschle "an Al Qaeda sympathizer"?
*Are you gong to continue to refer to president Obama as a "Halfrican American"? Or the "little black man child"?
*Do you still think Obama is "not black" and that "he's Arab"?
*Were you able to find any proof that "Islamofascists are actually campaigning for the election of Democrats"?
If Walters ever got up the nerve to confront Limbaugh about his hate speech, now that would be fascinating.
Crossposted at County Fair, a Media Matters for America blog.