The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

12 January 2007

Rush Limbaugh, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Time Magazine


Media Still Obsessed With Limbaugh's Kiss

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After nearly two months, it's truly amazing to see mainstream media types still fixated on the idea that Rush Limbaugh would kiss a Hollywood actress in public. Yet, here it is again, this time via a new piece in Time Magazine:

Last June in Washington, the conservative Heritage Foundation held a forum on terrorism with a panel of august authorities. There was Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. There was a pair of think-tank terrorism experts. And naturally, there were Chloe, Tony and the evil President from 24.

The panel -- "24 and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction or Does It Matter?" -- was not exactly Foreign Affairs journal material. Moderator Rush Limbaugh planted a full-on mouth kiss on actress Mary Lynn Rajskub (a.k.a. tech geek Chloe), and actors and producers took softball questions as audience members cheered what Limbaugh called the show's "pro-America" stance. (Among the crowd were pundit Laura Ingraham and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.)

The weird spectacle put a point on a raging question in pop culture: Is 24 just a TV show or right-wing propaganda? Or, to turn Jack Bauer's frequent refrain on him: Who are you working for?

Certainly 24, which debuted just weeks after 9/11 and returns Jan. 14, comes as close as anything has to being the Official Cultural Product of the War on Terrorism. Co-creator Joel Surnow is a rare Hollywood Republican, and John McCain has done a cameo.

Dick Cheney is a big fan too, and you can understand the Administration's wanting to associate itself with Bauer's badass competence. (He nabs nuclear masterminds; we get Jose Padilla.) Most damningly to critics on the left, Bauer's means of gathering intel (grab terrorist's finger, snap, repeat) make 24 a weekly rationalization of the "ticking time bomb" defense of torture.

So is 24 a conservative show? Yes, in the sense that the thriller is a conservative genre. Ticking time bombs and pure- evil bad guys make for exciting TV. Working patiently to improve America's image in the Muslim world -- not so much. (Maybe Aaron Sorkin could spice it up with an office romance and lots of walk-and-talks.)

Muddy a terrorism thriller with liberal concern over root causes and you get Syriana, whose plot audiences couldn't follow with a GPS device. "The politics of the show," says executive producer Howard Gordon (a registered Democrat), "are narrative politics."

Sure enough, the story's
main focus is a debate over whether 24 is a right- wing show. But why mention Limbaugh's now- infamous kiss yet again?

When it comes to Time, it's safe to assume the worst, so it seems most likely an attempt to prove the popular FOX drama is indeed part of the Vast Right- Wing Conspiracy, even if that stance is hedged later in the piece.

For added smear potential, Dick Cheney is even thrown into the mix, simply because he watches the program! Rounding out those sitting in Dr Evil's secret boardroom are talk host Laura Ingraham (a favorite target of the left these days) and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Overall, Time has further underscored your Radio Equalizer's previous point:

Even more than his political philosophy, Rush Limbaugh's personal life sometimes seems to drive enemies particularly batty. That's especially true when it comes to dating women.

Apparently, it's not enough for Rush to merely be wrong on the issues, he must also be so grotesque that no self- respecting gal would dare to be seen anywhere near the talk titan. As a result, anyone linked romantically with him must surely be nuts, right?

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Some images:, bottom Rush photo: AP


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