The Intercept falsely undermines legacy of former radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh

  • Limbaugh’s participation in the radio industry makes him a government dependent, according to the writer
  • Schwarz effectively parades opinion as fact and on that basis indicts Limbaugh
  • The author’s greatest factual error is in equating radio licensing fees to gold mines 

OUR RATING: 3 = #FakeNews. This is what you’d expect on CNN playing to an empty airport. 

Indicted Outlet: Jon Schwarz | The Intercept | Link | Archive

This author, Jon Schwarz, though he includes editorial content, bases his opinion on the fact that Limbaugh’s “career and wealth were a handout from the U.S. government.” The Schwarz is not with him. He’s opining, but he’s also presenting a demonstrable claim that is either true or false. Schwarz’s “factual claim” goes something like this: Limbaugh was a radio talk show host. Because he was a radio talk show host, he was employed and paid by a corporation. This corporation necessarily has to have obtained licenses from the government which ‘owns’ the electromagnetic spectrum used for radio. Thus, Limbaugh is dependent on the government simply by the fact of his association in a medium that is regulated by the government. 

Major Violations

  • Missing Context
  • Misrepresentation
  • Opinion as Fact

This paragraph is the crux of Schwarz’ argument:

“..the federal government has to regulate radio, and grant monopolies in the form of licenses to broadcast at every point on the band. And until fairly recently, the government handed out these licenses — and thereby the opportunity to exploit the radio spectrum — at essentially no cost.” (Emphasis added). 

Is this true? Did the corporation that Limbaugh signed on with, Clear Channel Communications, obtain these licenses at essentially no cost? Are they similar to a “huge gold [mine] on public land”? A closer look will prove otherwise. First off, a license is a fee, which is clearly not a gold mine that Schwarz compares it to. A fee does not automatically carry monetary value in the way that gold does. Once you’ve found gold, nothing else needs to be done other than to sell it. Limbaugh had to work hard and bring something unique to the table in order to make the license valuable. People start and fail radio shows all the time. Licenses are simply meant to prevent other radio users or license holders from interfering with one another. [1]

Schwarz’s article lacks context and misrepresents Limbaugh’s associations in the radio business by falsely equating radio licenses to gold mines. The radio is not “public wealth” in the way that gold mines on public land are. Limbaugh’s participation and success in the industry are dependent on his ability to add value. The idea that he is simply “dependent” on the government for his own wealth is false. 

Second, a look at the start of Clear Channel Communications, the corporation Limbaugh signed on with, will tell us a different story. Clear Channel didn’t begin until 1972 when L. Lowry Mays bought a struggling FM radio station named KEEZ for $175,000. It wouldn’t be until the 1990s when the corporation began acquiring radio stations in a big way, especially with the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that lifted arbitrary national radio ownership restrictions and eased artificial local limitations. Clear Channel in June of that year quickly acquired $581 million worth of radio and television stations. But is this really a situation in which the government is handing out valuable licenses? Mays began with one partner from a car dealership and a loan of $175,000 from a bank. Through cleverness and smart investments, Mays was able to create enough revenue required to expand. [2] 

To say that buying radio stations and their accompanying bandwidth is the equivalent to buying literal gold mines, is opinion dressed up as fact. The better comparison would be whether it’s fair to say that giving someone a brick of gold is as easy as giving them a microphone tied to a radio show. The gold will always have value, the radio show depends on the quality of the broadcaster in order to succeed. To Schwarz, participation in the radio industry makes you either a government dependent or a mercenary because it is regulated by the government. Limbaugh is not responsible for the way the EM spectrum is dealt out to certain corporations, and his success in the industry is dependent on his abilities. 

If handing out radio licenses were all it took to be successful in radio, then it beggars belief how liberal Air America could have so spectacularly crashed into the ground with no survivors. [3][4]

To make this dubious claim worse, Schwarz was also a researcher for discredited documentary propagandist Michael Moore, who is the king of #FakeNews.[5] Moore has been known to lie about physical attacks and threats he has suffered as a result of his work and his own origin story. [6] Moore, like most liberal elites, indicts Americans for sins he, himself, commits on a regular basis. [7]

OUR RATING: 3 = #FakeNews.


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