For the past few days, hate radio host Rush Limbaugh has been urging his listeners to call Congress and oppose health care. Yesterday, he gleefully aired clips of journalists touting his project, urging his followers to keep up the pressure:
LIMBAUGH: So here are the numbers, the toll-free number for the Capitol Switchboard: 877–762–8762. The toll call number, the direct toll number is 202–224–3121. Now, we have these numbers at RushLimbaugh.com if you don’t have a way to write them down, if you’re driving around or something. If you have a smart phone, you can log on at a red light and get the numbers. Here they are again: 877–762–8762, I guess this is the third time now that I’m — or maybe I could just say this is a continuation of yesterday, still only the second time in history that I have advocated this. And there’s no better time than now. It is really crucial. I think all these phone calls that you made yesterday, there’s no question at all they had an impact. I mean everybody noted it at the Capitol Hill switchboard.
Limbaugh seems eager to be in the spotlight after his “spawn,” Glenn Beck, has been getting all the attention lately. To do so, Limbaugh is adopting a Beck-style tactic that he previously derided. In an interview with Politico last year, Limbaugh said that telling people to “call Washington” was “cheap and disingenuous”:
“I don’t rally people and haven’t since the first year of my radio show,” he wrote to POLITICO. “At that time, all local talk hosts were attempting to prove their worth by getting people to cut up gasoline credit cards, call Washington, etc. I thought it was cheap and disingenuous. The few times I did, early on, suggest people call Washington, the reaction to it from the media was that the response was not genuine (I shut down the House switchboard) because people only did what they did because ‘Limbaugh told them to.’”
On his show yesterday, Limbaugh admitted that he has “shied away” from urging people to call Congress in the past because his efforts could “delegitimize the whole thing.” He said that this time was different, however, because the media weren’t saying that “Limbaugh urged them to do it.” “They’re reporting it as a genuine outrage at the bill, and it is!” he said. “There’s no question.” Well, not really. In fact, even in the stories that Limbaugh highlights, the press reports that the calls are coming in because of Limbaugh — not because of a spontaneous outrage over health care. As The Hill wrote yesterday, the “unusual call volume” to Capitol Hill “began Tuesday afternoon after Limbaugh made a plea on his website for fans to call lawmakers.”