Science was never Rush Limbaugh’s strong point. The far-right talk radio host, who was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer earlier this year, spent decades downplaying the dangers of cigarette smoking and defending the tobacco industry.
And since February, Limbaugh has been downplaying a different type of health hazard: coronavirus. And in a scathing article for The Bulwark, Never Trump conservative Jonathan V. Last slams the 69-year-old talk show host for trying to convince his listeners that coronavirus isn’t as dangerous as the “drive-by media” (Limbaugh’s terms for the mainstream media) and Democrats would have us believe.
Last, drawing on figures reported by John Hopkins University in Baltimore, opens his article by illustrating how rapidly coronavirus has been spreading in the United States — and notes that on March 31, “1,049 Americans died from COVID-19” and that “the number of deaths per day doubles roughly every three of four days.”
“Doubling — that’s the key to understanding how virality functions,” Last explains. “We will soon be at 2000 deaths per day. Just try to get your head around that.”
The conservative journalist goes on to write that Limbaugh has been putting his listeners in danger by trying to convince them that COVID-19 isn’t so bad.
“When this is all over,” Last writes, “there should be a reckoning — a very real, very thorough reckoning — for all of the people who made this pandemic worse by pushing disinformation and lies in the service of making it harder for the country to quickly respond to the crisis. But why wait? Let’s talk about Rush Limbaugh, because what this man has said over the last month ought to mark him for the rest of his life.”
Last offers quote after quote from Limbaugh, from February 24 through March 27 — and he does a fine job of showing how reckless the radio host has been.
On February 24, Limbaugh told listeners, “The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” And the following day, he claimed that media coverage of coronavirus was merely an attempt to undermine Trump’s presidency.
“Donald Trump has survived every coup attempt, every assault on him, that has been made up — and now, the coronavirus,” Limbaugh claimed. “They’re trying to lay it at his feet and make him responsible for it, and they’re doing irresponsible news reports claiming that the coronavirus is gonna destroy the U.S. economy by when? November! Isn’t it magical? The coronavirus is the new Russians.”
On March 11, Last notes, Limbaugh told listeners, “This coronavirus, they’re just — all of this panic is just not warranted. This, I’m telling you, when I tell you — when I’ve told you that this virus is the common cold.” And two days later, on March 13, Limbaugh asserted, “We’re shutting down our country because of the — the cold virus, which is what coronaviruses are. This is COVID-19, the 19th version of the coronavirus. We’re shutting it — can you imagine our enemies watching this? You think the Chinese are not laughing themselves silly over how easy this has been?”
Then, on March 27, Limbaugh claimed that medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were plotting against Trump.
“We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don’t know,” Limbaugh told his audience. “And how do we know they’re even health experts?”
Last also notes that on March 11, Limbaugh made a ridiculous COVID-19/cancer comparison and asked, “Have we contained the spread of cancer? Have we contained the spread?” That comment, Last stresses, was so idiotic that it merits an AYFKM: are you freaking kidding me?
“The spread of cancer? AYFKM?,” Last writes. “I can’t believe I have to say this to a guy who has cancer, but cancer is not an infectious disease…. I suspect that Limbaugh does understand the difference between an infectious disease and cancer. I suspect that he’s just lying about it to his audience for profit. But either way, this man has blood on his hands.”