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Rush Limbaugh’s Venom Legacy: As Trump Rose, ‘Everything Seemed Familiar’

Rush Limbaugh was a unique and ruthless media voice whose influence frightened and impressed presidents for three decades – often at times of trauma to the nation and political upheaval they could trace back to something spoken over the microphone from the radio host.

In 1992, as President George HW Bush faced a right-wing revolt led by Patrick J. Buchanan, a rival Mr. Limbaugh had promoted, Mr. Bush extended an olive branch by inviting the host to spend the night in the Lincoln room. Mr. Limbaugh returned the favor by revealing that the President had been so courteous, he carried his guest’s bag upstairs.

In 1995, after Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a fertilizer bomb in Oklahoma City, President Bill Clinton called out the “promoters of paranoia” on the air in a reprimand widely seen as directed against Mr. Limbaugh.

And minutes after Mr. Limbaugh’s death was announced on Wednesday, former President Donald J. Trump called Fox News to offer his condolences on live television. He praised his friend, a golf buddy in Palm Beach, Florida, for supporting his false claims that he was cheated of victory in last year’s presidential election.

Mr. Limbaugh was not the first conservative media star to endorse Mr. Trump for the presidency. But he was among the first to popularize – and normalize, for many Republican politicians and voters – the style of politics that would become synonymous with Trump’s name.

There was no person or subject that was off limits to Mr. Limbaugh’s anger. Blacks, gays and lesbians, feminists, people with AIDS, the 12-year-old daughter of a president, an advocate for victims of domestic violence: all have found themselves the object of disparagement of Mr Limbaugh’s slurs over the years .

He invented conspiracy theories about the alleged involvement of Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary, in the death of former Deputy White House attorney Vince Foster, and spread lies about the birthplace of former President Barack Obama. He insisted in 2009, for example, that Mr. Obama “had yet to prove that he was a citizen” and almost always referred to him on air using the former’s middle name. president, Hussein, a trope that right-wing commentators used to evoke the false impression that he was not an American and perhaps was a Muslim.

Few media stars have played such a crucial role in making disinformation, false rumors and fringe ideas the new reality of the right. And towards the end of the Trump presidency, Mr. Limbaugh’s willingness to indulge in paranoia among Mr. Trump’s staunchest supporters was especially powerful in misleading people into believing that bad news about their president – like his loss in November or his mismanagement of the coronavirus response – was simply invented by his enemies or the result of a nefarious plot. (In the case of the virus, Mr. Limbaugh referred to it simply as a “cold”.)

In turn, Mr Limbaugh rarely apologized for his comments and often attacked those who called him, arguing that they took him too seriously or distorted his words out of context. Often Mr. Limbaugh has denied saying what his critics claim.

Mr. Trump’s widespread appeal to voters initially confused many in politics. But anyone who regularly listened to Mr. Limbaugh’s three-hour weekday radio show, which reached about 15 million listeners each week, would have been less surprised.

“To conservatives, this all sounded familiar,” said Nicole Hemmer, media scholar at Columbia University and author of a book on Mr. Limbaugh and other conservative media figures, “Messengers of the Right “.

“The insults, the nicknames, the really outrageous statements – they had enjoyed this as a form of political entertainment for a quarter of a century before Donald Trump,” added Dr Hemmer.

Mr. Limbaugh attacked black athletes like quarterback Donovan McNabb, whose success he attributed to a news outlet that was “very keen on a black quarterback to succeed.” He described a preteen Chelsea Clinton as the “White House dog.” He denigrated Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay man to be a serious presidential candidate, as “a 37-year-old gay kissing his husband on stage.”

Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Trump made fun of people with disabilities. Mr Limbaugh once shook his body on a show to emulate actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease. Mr. Trump, in a surprisingly similar display, once flapped his arms in a cruel impersonation of a New York Times reporter who has limited use of his upper body.

But it was more than their behavior. The manner in which their fans were also eager to defend the more indefensible conduct of the two men was a sign that the political divide in the country was hardening into something more personal and tribal. Mr. Limbaugh’s most loyal listeners developed an ability to excuse almost anything he did and deflect, saying the Liberals were just hysterical or hateful. And many loved him even more for it.

Conservative writer and podcast host Allie Beth Stuckey responded to news of her death on Wednesday via saying, “Rush was hated by all good people.”

Mr. Limbaugh’s recklessness with the truth and the obvious lack of concern for the danger posed by feeding paranoia on the Right served him well once Mr. Trump became the Republican nominee in 2016 and later. President. Mr. Limbaugh, who worked with his producers to carefully comb through his fan’s calls and emails, listened to his audience but rarely stepped out on a branch where he couldn’t be sure it would follow. And he wasn’t initially all-in on Mr. Trump.

But that changed after Mr. Trump won the nomination. Mr. Limbaugh’s loyalty to the president, whose Mar-a-Lago club in Florida is not far from his own seaside estate, has only grown stronger as Mr. Trump’s conduct during the 2016 and ruling campaign has been the subject of multiple investigations, one lawyer investigation and two indictments.

Last year, Mr Trump awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union address and asked Melania Trump, the first lady, to hang it around the sick host’s neck .

And Mr. Limbaugh stood behind the former president until the end, stoking the political flames. He compared the rioters who stormed the Capitol last month, furious because they believed the lies about the election of Mr. Trump and media figures like him, to the patriots of the Revolutionary War. And on President Biden’s inauguration day, Mr Limbaugh still claimed it was all a fraud. “I think they know this is something that has been arranged rather than legitimately researched and earned,” he said, referring to Democrats.

Mr. Limbaugh’s rise to prominence as a guardian of conservatism and kingmaker in the Republican Party has helped accelerate the trend of GOP politics away from serious and substantial thought leaders and politicians, and towards prominent figures. provocative, entertaining and anti-intellectual. Mr. Limbaugh – like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and other right-wing hosts who later broke – did not graduate from college. He started his radio career as a disc jockey, not as a political commentator.

“Without Rush Limbaugh, there is no way to go from George HW Bush’s party to Donald Trump,” said Brian Rosenwald, a Harvard scholar who follows disinformation on talk radio. “For 32 years, he conditioned his audience to what they wanted to hear and what they wanted. And it delighted them to hear from someone who said what they might have thought, but felt uncomfortable saying it. And Trump applied that to politics.

Prior to the establishment of Fox News in 1996 – the brainchild of Roger Ailes, who was Mr. Limbaugh’s friend and former executive producer and who negotiated the peace attempt with Mr. Bush in 1992 – Mr. Limbaugh was the undisputed king of the conservative media. He forged a personal bond with his audience that was unlike what vanguards of right-wing opinion like National Review had.

“I remember it was the first time that there was this universal feeling that everyone was listening to, and people were asking, ‘Did you hear what Rush said today? Said Russ Schriefer, a veteran Republican media consultant.

“The conservative media market has become so fragmented now,” he added. “But it was in a pre-Fox world. And at the time, he was the singular voice of conservative politics in America.

Mr. Limbaugh was barely modest or did not know how he could elicit a response from the President of the United States. In 2013, after Mr. Obama criticized Republicans for being “concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them,” Mr. Limbaugh said with more pride than annoyance: “He just can’t tell me. to forget. I live without rent in his head.

Isabella Grullón Paz and Elaina plott contribution to reports.

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Alice Rose George, a ‘photographer’s dream writer’, dies at 76

Alice Rose George, Mississippi-born poet, curator, and photo editor, an ardent promoter of famous and unsung photographers for over 50 years, and whose unfailing eye for visual detail has made her a staple in the New York magazine world , died on Dec. 12, 22 in Los Angeles. She was 76 years old.

His partner, Jim Belson, said the cause was a concussion.

Spiritual and urban with a love for whiskey and a touch of the South, Mrs. George, known to friends as Pi, has cultivated relationships with numerous photographers and collectors, gallery owners and magazine editors, helping to weaving a community just as the very nature of photography was undergoing rapid changes, including new directions in photojournalism and the efflorescence of fine art photography.

From her first job as an assistant photo editor at Time magazine in the late 1960s, Ms. George used the demise of the old order of photo magazines like Life and Look to promote a more style of photojournalism. personal and committed. , an analogue of the emerging vogue around the very personal and deeply immersive new journalism of the day.

At the time, galleries and collectors specializing in photography did not yet exist, and artistic-minded photographers struggled to get by. Ms George, who went on to work in magazines like GEO, Fortune, Details and Granta, will use her vast photo budgets to commission promising young artists like Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Joel Sternfeld, giving them work that not only provided them with a check. payroll, but opportunities to build portfolios.

“She was a photographer’s dream editor,” said Susan Meiselas, a photographer who worked under Ms. George in the early 1990s when Ms. George ran the New York offices of Magnum photo agency. “She saw what they saw and gave them support, not only financial but emotional.”

Ms. George had no training in photography or art. She graduated in English at university and considered herself primarily a poet; she publishes regularly in magazines such as The Paris Review and The Atlantic. She came to photo editing instinctively, with a deep love for images and the people who made them, especially young photographers who had yet to leave their mark.

“She didn’t just put you in touch,” said Lisa Kereszi, who was a young photographer when she met Ms. George in 1997 and now teaches at Yale, by phone, “she cultivated you by finding out who you were. . a photographer.”

Alice Rose George was born on October 23, 1944 in Silver Creek, Mississippi, about an hour south of Jackson. His mother, Louise (Fairman) George, was a housewife. His father, James George, was a farmer. He nicknamed Alice “Apple Pie”, which he later abbreviated as Pie; she dropped the “e”.

Ms. George moved to New Orleans in 1962 to study English Literature at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, the all-female branch of Tulane University. Graduating in 1966, she immediately left for New York, where she dreamed of living since she was a child.

She made her home at 1 Fifth Avenue, a massive apartment building overlooking Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, in a tiny apartment that became her home for the rest of her life. Guests were often forced to eat at her kitchen counter because her dining table was filled with heavy photo books, as were her chairs, shelves and everything in between – except her piano (she had a classical background ).

After working in magazines for almost 30 years, including a brief stint in London as editor of Granta, Ms George became independent. She was busier than ever. She has organized exhibitions, authored or co-authored five books, and started a lucrative business consulting high net worth individuals as well as businesses on their art collections. For more than a decade starting in the 1990s, she helped Howard Stein, President and CEO of the Dreyfus Corporation, build what many consider to be the largest private collection of photographs in the country.

She has also written two books of poetry, “Ceiling of the World” (1995) and “Two Eyes” (2015); taught at the University of Hartford, Connecticut, in its Master of Fine Arts program; and even had a watercress potato salad recipe published in The New York Times.

Ms George met her partner Mr Belson in the 1970s, but they wouldn’t start dating for about 30 years. At the time, he had a home in Los Angeles, and in recent years they have alternated between the two coasts until the pandemic persuaded them to live most of last year in California. She died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Besides Mr. Belson, she is survived by her sister, Jane Tyrone. Her brother, James, died in 2002.

Ms George was in Portugal when terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 and it took her a week to return to New York. When she did, she partnered up with artist Michael Shulan and photographers Gilles Peress and Charles Traub, who were developing a fleeting photo gallery idea to reflect on the attacks. Professional and amateur photographers would submit images, which they would print and hang in a SoHo storefront, then sell them to raise money for charity.

Building on her connections, Ms. George quickly raised enough money to get the project started, and less than two weeks later, “Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs” had opened. It was a huge success: over the next year, some 1.5 million people passed through the gallery and purchased 40,000 prints. Some of the images were featured in a photo book edited by Mrs. George and Mr. Peress.

It was, Mr Peress said in an interview, a crowning experience for her, allowing her to deploy her skills both as a writer and as a photo editor, and to show how words and images can complement each other to communicate something deeper than one or the other. could on their own.

“Alice was very alive, very present in the world,” he says. “For her, there was a direct link between poetry and images.

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No Rose Parade: Southern California mourns the loss of a tradition.

For just about every New Year’s Day since 1958, Carla Hall has stood on an asphalt patch outside a car dealership in downtown Pasadena, California. For a 10-year-old girl, it was the perfect place to watch majesty unfold – the “artistry” she calls it, floats and bands, beauty queens and horses.

“All that love that comes in,” Ms Hall, 72, said this week, searing memories. “I’ll start to cry, sorry.”

In a small gesture of defiance in the face of tough times, she will be there too this year, wearing her mask and marking her place, as usual, with chalk and tape.

Of course, there will be no Rose Parade, a Southern California institution that started in 1890. It was canceled months ago, like everything else. But now, his absence is finally here, to officially enter the register of things lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even the superlatives that got attached to the parade (“America’s New Year Celebration”) and the accompanying football game (“Everyone’s Grandpa”) don’t seem to fully capture what the day is. meant to Ms Hall: family, community, tradition, something to rely on.

For Ms Hall, a substitute teacher who has not worked since March, who has lost friends to the coronavirus and who has seen two of her grandchildren catch the virus and recover, the loss of the parade feels like a metaphor of grief itself.

“See you at the Rose Parade” is what everyone has said to everyone, every year.

The only other time the parade was canceled was during World War II, amid fears the west coast could be attacked by Japan. Even on New Years Day in 1919, with an influenza pandemic out of control but overshadowed by World War I, the parade continued, recklessly as it may be.

As a placeholder in the parade’s long history, there will be a TV special this year – filmed in recent weeks in strict accordance with anti-virus protocols – for which Ms Hall was interviewed. The Rose Bowl football game has been moved to Arlington, Texas.

Robert B. Miller, who volunteered for the Tournament of Roses Association for nearly 40 years and was named president in 2020, said the association would donate the money it used to welcome the parade to food banks and organizations working to close the gap. in broadband access between rich and poor schools.

“My priorities have always been my family, my job and the Tournament of Roses,” said Miller, who will be sidelined in Texas for the Rose Bowl, wearing his traditional red sports jacket.

He said he hoped the show would be “a way to help people understand what’s going on, be grateful for what they have and where they’re going and know the world will come back to something.” much closer to what we have all experienced before. “

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Jon Huber, who rose to fame with World Wrestling Entertainment, dies at 41

Jon Huber, a professional wrestler known in the ring as Luke Harper and Brodie Lee, died on Saturday. He was 41 years old.

His death follows a battle with an unrelated Covid-19 ‘lung problem’, his wife, Amanda Huber, said on Instagram.

Apart from his wife, he is survived by his two children.

Mr. Huber rose to fame with World Wrestling Entertainment, where he was known for his soft-spoken intensity in the ring.

During his time in WWE, he found success in the independent circuit before joining the NXT brand.

He has fought other wrestling stars, including The Shield, Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and the Usos, using a combination of “aggressive attacking and insane mind play,” WWE said.

Mr. Huber “moved with rare speed for a 6-foot-5 monster,” his WWE biography said. “His jaw-shaking clotheslines and frantic outward dives knocked over anyone who dared step into the ring in front of him.

In 2014, he won the Intercontinental Championship and later the SmackDown Tag Team and NXT Tag Team Championships.

Whether it’s bombarding rivals on the scales or standing face to face with John Cena, Harper left an undeniable mark – and on some superstars, a literal mark in the form of a scar – on WWE and NXT, ”said WWE.

Mr. Huber joined All Elite Wrestling, a WWE contestant, this year as “The Exalted One”.

Over the summer he won the All Elite Wrestling TNT Championship.

“In an industry filled with good people, Jon Huber was exceptionally respected and loved in every way – a fierce and captivating talent, a caring mentor and quite simply a very kind soul that totally contradicts his personality as Mr. Brodie Lee. ”AEW said in a declaration.

His last televised battle was a bloody fight against Cody Rhodes, an AEW superstar, in October.

Mr. Rhodes wrote in a social media tribute that it was an honor to share his last game with Mr Huber, who he said was “a first class family man and human being”.

Referring to Mr. Huber as the “Big Rig”, Mr. Rhodes said that Mr. Huber was a “gifted athlete and storyteller and his gift beyond that was to challenge you, and he set the bar very high.

Mr Huber’s death resonated among other wrestling stars.

Totally devastated about the loss of Jon, ”Hulk Hogan wrote on Twitter. “Such a great talent and a great human being! RIP my brother. “

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Swearing by Barrett, Trump defiantly mimics ‘Superspreader’ rose garden ceremony

Judge Barrett, 48, who has seven children, will be the youngest member of the current court, his third wife, his sixth Catholic and his only lawyer outside the Ivy League. A graduate of Notre Dame Law School, where she later taught, she has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since Mr. Trump appointed her in 2017 and became one of the preferred by curators. His Supreme Court appointment was Mr. Trump’s third, the largest any president has had in a single term since Richard M. Nixon, and significant credibility for Republican voters who care about justice.

In her own remarks Monday, Judge Barrett, whose black short-sleeved gown contrasted with the president’s heavy black overcoat on a crisp 55-degree evening, called the Senate’s swift approval a “rigorous confirmation process.” , a Democrats characterization. bitterly fought.

But she seemed determined to send the message that she wouldn’t just bid Mr. Trump, using the words “independent” or “independence” three times, even though he said explicitly that he wanted that. she is seated before the elections so that she can vote in the event of a legal dispute over the ballot.

“A judge declares her independence not only from Congress and the President, but also from private beliefs that might otherwise displace her,” Justice Barrett said after taking the oath. “The oath that I have solemnly taken this evening,” she added, “means to her heart that I will do my job without any fear or favor and that I will do it independently of the two political branches and of my own. preferences.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans seemed to believe this, instead praising or condemning its confirmation as a victory for the Conservatives and a defeat for the Liberals. His replacement from Justice Ginsburg means the Conservative wing now controls the Supreme Court 6-3, heralding a new era of case law not just on the upcoming election, but on topical issues like abortion, gay rights and Healthcare.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Mr. Trump’s outspoken allies, taunted Hillary Clinton, who lost to Mr. Trump in 2016, after the evening vote in the Senate.