Rush Limbaugh and The Platforming of Hate

Jacqueline Dooley
GEN
7 min readMar 24, 2022

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I didn’t know much about Rush Limbaugh before February 17, 2021. That day, I popped onto Twitter to see what was trending and discovered his name at the top of the list, alongside the hashtags #rotinhell and #goodriddance. A bit of scrolling revealed that Limbaugh had died earlier that day from stage 4 lung cancer.

It didn’t surprise me to see the visceral outpouring of loathing for Limbaugh. I’m liberal. My collective pod of family and friends despised the guy, as did I. My exposure to Limbaugh over the years had been blessedly limited, typically in the context of late-night mockery by the likes of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.

Before that day, I’d never listened to a single minute of Limbaugh’s radio show. My impression of him, based on the little I’d heard or known about his career, was that he was a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-LGBTQ blowhard who was mesmerized by the sound of his own voice.

Still, it was unnerving to witness what amounted to the digital version of dancing in the streets for the death of a conservative radio personality. Why waste time celebrating his death? It was talk radio, for crying out loud. What was I missing?

A lot, apparently.

In the February 18, 2021 edition of her extraordinary newsletter, Letters from an American, Heather Cox…

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Jacqueline Dooley
GEN

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss