Miggs Burroughs’ “Rush” To Judgment

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.

"Miggs B on TV," back in the day.

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.”

His reply:

Rush Limbaugh, once upon a time.

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 Burroughs today.

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.”

Rush Limbaugh today.

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:

73 responses to “Miggs Burroughs’ “Rush” To Judgment

  1. Eric Buchroeder

    Mixed emotions on this one, Dan. On the one hand, I think your opinions of both Lush and Miggs are right on the money. But Lush has come out in the open for what he is and perhaps always was and the sooner he moves on to a more positive chapter in his life, the better off we all will be. The boycott appears to be working from the grass roots up and if it has any value beyond that, it is offering a broad swath of the American public something to agree on which is that this guy belongs to history and its time he went there under his own steam.

  2. Out of all of your posts-articles, on the national-media level, I think this is the most dynamic. I had no idea Limbaugh had made the ‘magic negro’ & ‘exaggerated Parkinson’s statements, nor that at one time he expected himself to be more intelligent, sensitive to

  3. Watched the whole 28 minutes. Rush was insightful, especially about identifying Miggs’ style of interviewing. But WOW, his sensitive thoughtful approach seems to have declined as his fame inclined. Angry seems to have crept in. Didn’t realize he started “music on a talk show” due to his disk jockey background. Don Imus also does that well. Did he copy Rush?
    He was a great guest and Miggs led him along perfectly. Interesting look at Rush from 1988… how times and people change.
    Great blog, Dan. You & Miggs should do a show together.
    MIGGS B & D WOOG
    ALL YA NEED IS A THEME SONG! Any ideas out there?

  4. Richard Lawrence Stein

    I was lucky enough to do camera work on some of Miggs shows…he had some of the coolest interviews and topics…. My favorite was with former Westporter and fantastic basis Harvey Brooks. The movie The Doors was coming out and Harvey had played with them and many other historical and amazing musicians that are all R&R Hall of Famers. Great stuff!!!

  5. I’d hate to ask….. is Miggs sick?

  6. Master Dude Abides

    A very good friend and golfing buddy went to high school with Rush, south of St. Louis. He is, of course, a ditto head but very candid on Rush’s outlandish opinions. “He is a showman. He has been since 11th grade,” my friend told me. “I pay little attention for he is full of it and he knows it.” He adds that Rush had trouble in school and dropped out of college. I find that most of the Fox conservative crowd barely made it through high school and few finished college. That is not snobbery but an observation on their black/white view of everything.

    • Could you give me some names ? It would be interesting to compare their level of education vs. conservatism vs. my opinions. Is there a link?

      • Master Dude Abides

        I just googled Hannity, Beck and Rush. None finished college and I believe it was Beck who didn’t finish high school. O’Reilly is the exception with a Ph’D in History. A lawyer buddy at the YMCA made the distinction: “In college they teach you to look at opposing views and make your own decision. You learn quickly that nothing is one way completely.” I thought it was a keen observation and missing in many bobbleheads, including those from the left and right.

        • College is overwhelmingly liberal. Maybe that’s why they are able to present the other side.

          • That was a joke right? College’s for the most part are leftist not liberal. They most certainly do not “present the other side.” As for MDA’s observations, I would point out that Coulter, Levin, and Ingraham graduated from law school, for whatever that is worth. I think a person’s evaluation of a commentator’s intelligence is a direct function of how similar the commentator’s views are to those of the person doing the evaluating.

            • Plain Old Joe

              I think MSNBC, CNN and The New York Times are more one sided than FOX News.

              • No. No they are not.

                • Master Dude Abides

                  Watch the documentary “Outfoxed by Fox.” Quite indepth study of how they manipulate the news. But Emma is right. You usually watch what you agree with and thus, I only watch Charlie Rose now.

        • Velly velly interesting. My three least favorite. Ever Google santorum?

          • Master Dude Abides

            Yeah I googled all the GOP candidates to see if they had served in the military when they can’t wait to go to war with Iran. Only Paul served for two years in the AF and is against any wars!!! 6 deferments for Romney. Santorum when to law school at Dickinson and says he “hung around” with the veterans at the war college in Carlisle. Yeah fat chance, future flag officers share a beer with law students!!

            • I NEVER hung with civilians unless I was home on leave with my neighborhood friends.
              RS is whacked. He scares me.

              • Master Dude Abides

                He wants to ban sex (except for having kids) and college is only for snobs. He wants us fucking stupid.

                • I know some very smart people who never went to college.

                  • Master Dude Abides

                    Certainly. I am not saying they are not smart Lambie but they may think differently as to any analysis or their perception of things. I may be wrong but non-college attendees tend to see things black/white without any gray.
                    That doesn’t necessarily make them dumb.

                  • Lambie you are right; I also know of some very intelligent, and, more importantly, accomplished people who never went to college. As for those that are not more conventionally, formally educated being vulnerable to ‘black-white thinking’ and prone to less awareness of ‘gray areas’, I would say that from my experience, it’s more ‘in the field education’ than ‘text book review’ that enables people to make real life, tangible decisions based on the knowledge that they and their peers possess, i.e.. the difference between holding great thoughts, and achieving great successes.

            • I thought I read a post by some one with a name similar to yours suggesting that spending four years in college at $50,000 per might be a waste of time and resources for some “students”. Do you remember any post of that sort?

              • Master Dude Abides

                Are you referring to me? I definitely think so. The English system may be the best but it does eliminate many boys who mature late.

                • The rest of the industrialized world spends much less per capita on education than does the US. We take pride in the fact that we can turn out yearly 10,000 sociology majors from 4 year pass fail diploma mills and then have them end up sleeping in the park whining about not having a job.

                  • Master Dude Abides

                    True but that is the system whereby a degree (or advanced degrees) are a door opener to certain jobs. Used to be you could take the bar in MASS without law school but no more. But we should stop an emphasis on high school graduates going to college and instead focus on what they learn there and the drop out rate which is deplorable.

                    • Maybe we should follow the lead of the Germans who recognize that many students are not going to benefit from a college education. Education in the US is a big business with no truth in advertising.

                    • Master Dude Abides

                      Right on. I thought the English had an exam when you are 14 or so to determine whether you are college material? 98.6% of my Staples class went on to college. Two years later, about 20 per cent, including me, were in ‘Nam or the military or out of school. But mention trade school or even community college to Westporters and they look at you like you are crazy. Of course, Staples and its administration doesn’t do anything to change the perception of being absolutely special.

                • I read an article in the NYTimes recently that had me rethinking my attitude that everyone should strive to get a college degree. Maybe college isn’t the answer for everyone. We have done a good job in the past few decades of looking down on factory workers, when they, in fact, are part of our nation’s backbone. Our factories can’t compete with those in Asia and so our manufacturing plants close and those jobs get shifted overseas. Meanwhile, a whole bunch of people armed with college degrees are occupying Wall Street and lamenting the lack of jobs.

                  • College is not for everyone. But more and more, manufacturing jobs are demanding high-level technological know-how, and critical thinking skills. That’s why President Obama included vocational and trade school post-high school education in his recent remarks (twisted by Rick Santorum into his “snob” comment).

                  • Master Dude Abides

                    The Toyota plants in Tennessee have shown that we can be more efficient than the Asian workers with less personnel. But we have had this discussion for decades about the over abundance of college students. There was a time when a plumber made a lot more than a college grad. But the Professor is right: it is a far more technical world in need of specialized workers. Perhaps the community colleges and technical schools need to step up to meet the market?

                    • The education industry has the most powerful lobby in DC. It is in the interests of this industry to have as much government money as possible thrown its way. Obama is merely expanding the payoff to his big money supporters. There has been little or no critical thinking with respect to the efficacy of our education system; the industry will not allow it. So, we continue to spend more and more money on a system that serves primarily the interests of the industry and the politicians it buys.

                    • Master Dude Abides

                      Which is to turn out thousands of sociology majors from colleges each year??? I am surprised that college applications have not decreased due to the recession? Is your predicated student loan bubble burst in the near future????

                    • The faculty does not care what the students study or if they study. The joke is that the only thing harder than getting into Yale (susbsitutute the name of your choice) is flunking out of Yale. All the faculty wants is the rivier of money to continue to grow. And yes the next bubble to burst will be the college loan bubble. Public schools are driven by the same impulse; just send money.

    • Fox News anchors that I’m aware of went to: Georgetown, NYU, Fordham, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, Stanford, & Columbia. While No MITs, certainly not a mediocre pool of schools and far from ‘barely out of high school’.

  7. As Goldberg has pointed out, those on the extreme left are so blind to their biases, they do not recognize them as such. Rush admits his biases. Name some commentators/pundidt who are not biased. Can’t think of any myself. BTW with Obama’s JARs are the lowest level since he took office, the rhetoric will become even more heated and less enlightening; desperate men take desperate measures

  8. I’m sure the comparison has been made before between Rush and the protagonist of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother Night”, Howard W. Campbell (a hate-mongering American-born radio commentator on Nazi Germany’s shortwave service).. Recall from the novel that in his later years, a repentant Campbell noted: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

    I think that explains how Rush got from the Rush of 1988 (don’t get me wrong… his social views were merely abhorrent, as opposed to inexcusable, then) to the dark, toxic beast of today. The man simply started believing his own hype.

  9. Some of these political Talking Heads are pretty much faking it. My understanding is that Hannity and Olbermann are actually pretty good friends.

    • Master Dude Abides

      I swear to God, Jake, that I listened to the CEO of Fox News on “Charlie Rose” in the fall of 2008 and he said: “I am for Obama and so is Rupert.” This entire Fox conservatism may be a hoax to bring an audience and marketing dollars. Not so much with Rush.

  10. My current take after reading all this! I would probably prefer to have the plumbers lifestyle and W2. They are probably to tired after a days work to watch alot of TV and certainly less inclined to talk about it. Keep in mind no matter what position you take there is always an abundant amount of data available to support it. After all is said and done the key is to have a sparkling day 😉

    • Master Dude Abides

      ahhh . . . but you presume that the plumber does not live in a macmansion in Westport and have two kids in college. I know two who are and both are dittoheads. You are right about the sparking day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I am happy I didn’t get involved in this one.