The Mabley Archive: What Jack thought of Rush Limbaugh and infotainment

  • Legendary newspaper columnist Jack Mabley moved to Glenview at age 27 in 1943 and stayed there until his death at 90 in 2006. He even served as village president at one point.

    Legendary newspaper columnist Jack Mabley moved to Glenview at age 27 in 1943 and stayed there until his death at 90 in 2006. He even served as village president at one point. Daily Herald file photo

By Jack Mabley
Sept. 25, 1995
Glenview’s own
Updated 1/20/2022 8:27 AM
In 1988, when longtime Glenview resident Jack Mabley brought his column to the Daily Herald, he made a couple of requests: 1. Let him keep his ugly, old green chair. 2. Launch an edition for his hometown. He kept the chair. And now, more than a decade after his passing in 2006, his second request has been granted. This column is from Feb. 17, 1997.

When I'm in the car I sometimes listen to Rush Limbaugh. A few days ago he began his broadcast talking about the Unabomber.

Limbaugh said that only the Washington Post printed the bomber's transcript. He scoffed at the New York Times claim they didn't have proper presses for publishing the eight-page insert.


Then Limbaugh said the bomber had demanded that both papers print his essay or he would resume his terrorism.

Limbaugh said because only one paper printed it, that if he (Limbaugh) were the bomber (which he isn't) he would consider sending more bombs.

I wondered at the time if the Unabomber was listening to Limbaugh. And if he was, whether he might begin to build another bomb.

Was this responsible journalism?

Limbaugh's main shtick is blasting "the media." But Limbaugh is media. Can a commentator who has 20 hours of radio and TV programs a week and writes books not be considered part of the media?

Limbaugh makes extravagant use of hyperbole, exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. This dilutes his credibility.

He is part of the media, but he is right and the rest of the media is wrong, or "my show is the only information superhighway you'll ever need" and "the mainstream press is the dirt road of disinformation." He's good with metaphors, too.

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Limbaugh is an entertainer. He has never had the street experience of a reporter, which every journalist should have. On the street you learn the hard way, by making mistakes.

His distortions and factual mistakes are well documented. He dismisses criticism as the blatherings of the liberal media.

I criticize Limbaugh now and then in this column. This always generates invective about my liberalism, my abilities, my age, my ancestry and my intelligence or lack thereof.

Limbaugh and his dittoheads can dish it out. But they can't take it. I don't think I've ever used an abusive adjective describing Limbaugh, unless you consider "entertainer" as invective.

Several writers and callers blast me for "boycotting" Channel 2 because they carry Limbaugh. I dislike boycotts, and never advocate boycotts.


I said I was using the luxury of choice. Boycotts ask others to take action. I said only what I am doing, or not doing.

These dittoheads criticize the Daily Herald for carrying my column. Paul D. Christenson of Mount Prospect, who sent me a reasonable fax, concluded his message with "Liberals such as you want to suppress opinions different than theirs."

Do he and other Limbaugh defenders and media bashers ever read the paper?

We regularly carry the views of at least nine conservative columnists: William Buckley, Paul Greenberg, Joseph Sobran, Cal Thomas, George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Mona Charen, Suzanne Fields and William Rusher.

Does that sound like we're suppressing opinions?

Our liberal leaning columnists are Molly Ivins (totally liberal), Ellen Goodman, Richard Cohen, Les Payne, Roger Simon and Neal Peirce. Andy Rooney and Art Buchwald are hard to classify. They're primarily humorists.

I read all nine conservative columnists because I respect them. They're not entertainers, they're journalists, writing with journalistic discipline. I disagree with them much of the time, but wouldn't it be incredibly stupid of me to read only writers with whom I agree?

Do the dittoheads ever read liberal or middle-of-the road columnists, or ever look at newspapers "on the dirt road of disinformation?" Have any of them gotten this far in this column?

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