Rush Limbaugh is all over the news these days.
He’s a bully, a blowhard, and completely clueless about how birth control works.
But he wasn’t always like that.
In 1988, in fact, he went on TV to state his mission as a radio talk show host: “be informative without being dull, and entertaining without being abusive.” He vowed to stick to those values.
That was not just any TV show. It was “Miggs B on TV” — a long-running public access show on Cablevision of Connecticut, produced and hosted by Westport’s own Miggs Burroughs.
Miggs wears many hats. He’s a graphic designer, artist and photographer who donates his time and considerable talents to every organization that asks. (They all do.)
His TV show is just a sideline. But he books interviews with intriguing guests like Martha Stewart and Patty Hearst. Back in the Reagan Administration, he invited Rush Limbaugh onto the set. (And sent a driver for him.)
Limbaugh was then a highly rated host on WABC Talk Radio in New York. He also had a national show. He had not yet called women “sluts” and “feminazis,” and advertisers still paid to be associated with him.
In what may be Limbaugh’s 1st-ever TV interview, Media Matters reports, a caller asked if there were any subjects he found taboo “as far as making fun of them.”
I will not make fun of, nor will I tolerate anybody else to make jokes about the Lord. Or, I will not allow any jokes about anybody’s religion. I will not allow jokes about people’s ethnic background or racial background or anything.
I will make jokes about people’s attitudes. I’ll take shots at people’s beliefs and that kind of thing. But not, I won’t mess around at all with the private beliefs — faith, religion, race — you know, things that people can’t help. Hands off.
That was then. This is now.
Limbaugh regularly jokes about President Obama’s heritage, religious beliefs and race, Media Matters notes. He has mocked Hu Jintao, and the way the Chinese president speaks.
Limbaugh also told Miggs that the formula for making listeners mad “hasn’t changed since Walter Winchell” — yet “people keep falling for it.”
Miggs was a polite host. He bantered with Limbaugh, though he made it clear his politics veered sharply from his guest’s.
Limbaugh thanked Miggs for inviting him, saying if he ever left New York, he’d “come to Connecticut.”
Between 1988 and earlier this year, Limbaugh got bigger in nearly every way. His influence, bank account and waistline all expanded enormously. The bigger he got, the more outspoken — and outlandish — he became. He called Barack Obama “the magic Negro,” accused Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s, and equated a college student’s desire for access to birth control with a wish to be “paid to have sex.”
He is certainly not dull.
Whether he is informative is up for debate.
But it is clear that — despite his vow to Miggs Burroughs nearly a quarter-century ago — Rush Limbaugh no longer feels he can entertain listeners without being abusive.
Watch the full 1988 “Miggs B on TV” interview with Rush Limbaugh below: