Professor of media psychology Stuart Fischoff published an attack on Rush Limbaugh as a racist without evidence, then crows about doing so and bringing Limbaugh to his knees.  He is proud of himself - why?

This post is a response to Rush Limbaugh, the Rams and My Reader Outrage by Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, October 16, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

Witch Hunting is Alive and Well - in PT Blogs

First, the political disclaimers. I'm a Democrat! I voted for Barack Obama. I dislike Rush Limbaugh (I have written about his hypocrisy in regards to drugs - illicit drug users are bad, he's fine because he's addicted to prescription meds). I don't care if he owns a football team (I'd love to see football players boycott his team to show they care about something besides making millions of dollars).

Second, the personal disclaimers. I don't know Stuart Fischoff. He is obviously an important person - a professor of media psychology and an editor of its leading journal. And, unlike nearly all the critical commenters of his posts on Rush Limbaugh, I have no desire to support Limbaugh and his positions.

But media psychology editor and professor Fischoff's posts are witch-hunts. Defending his attribution of unsubstantiated racist comments to Limbaugh, Fischoff wrote another 1300 words in which he never cites back to any actual Limbaugh quotes.

Instead, while continuing to attack Limbaugh, Fischoff discussed Glenn Beck: "clips of Glenn Beck on his FoxNews show clearly calling Obama a racist [sic]. But then, a scarce few minutes later in the same clip, Beck denies that he said it. Ordinarily, documenting such Beckian lounge lizarding in lying, or swimming the river Denial is not easy. Thank you, Glenn.

Actually, though, truth has never been one of Beck's strong suits. He feels encumbered by it. We understand, Glenn. That's why your tears are so important. Here, Beck's own patriotism has brought him to tears."

So Glenn Beck is a liar and a crybaby, in Denial, guilty of lounge lizarding (one of several words Fischoff, a media professor, makes up), and by reflection this is true of Fox News (Limbaugh is not a Fox News commentator).

When, at last, it seems Fischoff is referring readers to actual Limbaugh speeches,

"Today, almost every televised or radio utterance is archived by people who are supernaturally skillful in ferreting out accessing and sculpting into embarrassing video pieces all records of your words, deeds, - like, say, the folks at The Daily Show or over at producer-director Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films . In other words, you can spin, Rush, but you can't hide."

But there is no video at the link!

Fischoff makes clear he is accusing Limbaugh of racism for his past sins:

"Limbaugh says things on the air which often have little to do with reality or are simply prejudicial utterances, bigoted bon mots. While such mocking, derisive comments will undoubtedly please his audience of true believers, others in his peripheral field of rhetoric may be less responsive and will await a chance to later impale him on such words. The St. Louis Rams gambit is apparently such a time."

"In this blog I seek offer you (sic) the corroborating evidence of the sort you decried as being absent in my earlier blog. But evidence is slippery. It is often only accepted as evidence if we are fearlessly interested in evidence, even if that evidence contradicts what we want to believe, as, e.g., that President Obama was not born in the U.S. and is not therefore entitled to be president."

In this poorly written paragraph, Fischoff is now discussing the psychotic claims that the President is not an American citizen. THIS, to explain why he presents no evidence for the accusations he has actually made. Fischoff then ascribes his behavior - assertions without proof - to the right-wing pundits, like Limbaugh, whom he is attacking: "Proof? " I don't need any more proof than I have. If Rush or Glenn or Sean say it, that's evidence enough. They can be trusted. I believe them!" (In the original, there is no quotation mark before "Proof," which I believe is in error.)

Fischoff then rests his case because football team owners threw Limbaugh (whom he points out, obviously disapprovingly, is wealthy) overboard:

"Limbaugh's provocative radio opinions, while pleasing some, and making him a multi-millionaire with an 8-year, $400, 000,000 contract with Clear Channel, found, perhaps, the limits of his reach when he ran up against those NFL owners who saw him as a threat to their pocketbooks and/or to their sense of ethics or morality. These are men, by the way, who are not your flaming, liberal band of brothers. They were good old American businessmen."

And, so, Fischoff rests his case - Limbaugh, if not someone who has made citable racist comments, if he can't be shown to be a racist, is racist-like:

"As we saw these past few days, in this multi-media, mediated, media-saturated world, sometimes racially insensitive or simply racist rhetoric comes back to bite with real consequences. And, pardon my subdued gloat, what better consequence in the U.S. than one affecting power and money, in this instance, Rush Limbaugh's."


And, Fischoff is finally satisfied; Limbaugh - like all those other commentators with whom he is associated by Fischoff (Query: Dr. Fischoff - are they racists too?) - has gone down:

"But at least now I know that there is a movement out there in the new media that will vigorously, creatively and effectively stand up to him, and to the Becks and O'Reillys the Hannitys and Savages creatures of what is often decried by their supporters as "the liberal media." (Does this sentence say Beck et al. are "the liberal media"?)  I know that true (sic) because I heard it on FoxyNews."

(Note the guilt by association, derogatory reference to Fox News, claims that Fischoff is part of a group - "liberal media" - that is being attacked and thus he is only striking back, et al.)

Dr. Fischoff: I find these events - crystallized by your post - a little less reassuring than you. Because I associate your slight-of-hand equivocating with the right-wing witch hunters of the McCarthy, House Un-American Activities Committee era. I provide a quiz in which you would score as a lynchmobber because you would say "no" to this question:  

______ I don't express harsh disapproval for the latest pariah - e.g., Bernie Madoff, Octuplets Mom, Chris Brown for beating Rihanna then Rihanna for getting back with Brown, Rush Limbaugh.

If this is how an editor of a media psychology journal and professor of media behaves, then I do not share your rejoicing, gloating mood.