Ailes, in fact, was one of Limbaugh's mentors and served as the executive producer of his TV show in the 1990s, which is when I first got to know both of them. Little did I know back then that they would be planting the seeds of political and civic division that would lead to the coldest civil war in American history. Back then, Limbaugh didn't seem that much worse than the litany of conservative shock jocks that preceded him.
A couple of decades later, Limbaugh has done as much as anyone to contribute to the alternative false realities that have undermined American unity. While he wasn't as extreme in his conspiracy-mongering as his more sensationalized wannabe Alex Jones, Limbaugh has likely done more damage because of his reach and staying power among the conservative radio audience.
“Rush Limbaugh made his career lying to his audience, stoking misogyny, and fueling racism. He entertained listeners by mercilessly mocking and maligning anyone who didn’t resemble his typical listener — straight, white, conservative, and male — and that cruelty eventually became a central tenet of modern conservatism," Angelo Carusone, president & CEO of conservative media watchdog Media Matters, said in a statement following Limbaugh's death. “In his final act, Limbaugh explicitly endorsed violence in the wake of the January 6 Capitol attacks."
But Limbaugh's greatest legacy was that he was an incubator, pioneering a platform that gave voice to racists and misogynists to follow -- all the way to the White House and, even the steps of the Capitol.
"Limbaugh has tapped into the resentments of 'the angry white male,' which are "quite legitimate," author and former Senator Al Franken wrote in his 1996 book, "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot," concluding, "I mean, if you think about it, what chance for advancement have white men really had in this country?"