Rush Limbaugh's complicated legacy

After the controversial conservative talk show host died Wednesday, “The View” co-hosts discuss his impact on conservative media and what they believe will be his legacy.
11:05 | 02/18/21

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Transcript for Rush Limbaugh's complicated legacy
Yesterday one of the most dominant figures in talk radio and an architect of the conservative media movement, rush Limbaugh, passed away at age 70 from lung complications, lung cancer complications. There's been an outpouring of tributes along with a lot of criticism of his decades of controversial comments. So the question is, ladies, how will you remember him? I'll start with you, joy. Well, I did work -- I worked at a radio station in 1991-ish, around that time, WABC radio, and he -- I came on at 10:00 I believe, and he was on at 11:00. So I was engaged with him quite a bit in those days, and he, you know, over the years he's called me mord Behar. I guess he was saying like I was, like, bea Arthur who played more who was a raging liberal. I considered that a badge of honor to be compared to more. It's interesting. I worked with him. I've interviewed Ann Coulter many times. Jeanine Pirro was on "The view." Trump has been on "The view." These people, you know, have gone through some kind of metamorphosis and weirdness. Ann Coulter, I consider her a comedienne, and not even a pundit. Trump, we all know what he was like before. He was a Democrat. So what happened to them? And the answer is money. Money is what happened to them. They have been thrown at -- so much money at them at fox, for example, and various places, that they could not resist the money. So they go on the air, and they spew their hatred, their prejudices, their lies. Right. As did rush Limbaugh for the almighty dollar. They fool Americans into believing they are authentic. They are not authentic. I know these people. They are not real. Right. So sunny, what do you think his legacy will be? Well, you know, I have been listening to everyone, you know, sort of eulogizing rush Limbaugh, and I remember listening to him as a kid growing up, and for me he just normalized hatred. He normalized racism, and, you know, I think he really weaponized white male grievance, and, you know, he sort of hardened these, like, rural, white listeners, people, you know, sitting in their trucks in the middle of America, and in the south, and, you know, listening to rush Limbaugh, and I mean, this is someone who called our president Barack, the magic Negro, and talked about an NFL football game as, you know, a gang match between the bloods and the Crips. This is someone who made fun of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease. This is someone who likened a 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton to a dog. This wasn't someone who was a nice person. This is someone that spewed racism and hatred. Yet he is now considered, I guess, the most -- an influential person in building the modern party and conservatism. To me, that's not something to be proud of. I mean, how is that a reflection of conservative values? I thought, you know, conservatism was about small government and family values, and if family values is making fun of black people and a child and a disease, you know, I don't know where the Republican party is. I, you know, I think his legacy is that he paved the way, again, for the modern Republican party, and trumpism, and I don't know that that's something to be proud of. Meghan, what about you? What are your thoughts about all of this? Well, I used to work in talk radio. I was actually the first woman to host conservative talk radio show in the top four lineup. I was behind rush Limbaugh, and I hosted a show called "America now." I knew a lot about him and his work and grew up hearing him on the radio quite often. He was an absolute titan of media. In the premiere studios, he had a gold microphone in Los Angeles for whenever he would come in. There you see it right there. He had a loyal following of 15 million followers. I actually think he started this -- the trend of infotainment, which is what we do here on "The view," which is information and entertainment at the same time. He revolutionized this, and he was highly controversial, and said many incendiary and insulting things throughout his lifetime. He was also very, very influential in the 1994 Republican revolution, the tea party. He sort of saw trump coming early and was an early proponent of his. I think what's interesting about rush Limbaugh is that he tapped into this audience that feels underrepresented in mainstream he tapped into the idea that it's only liberals speaking for us, and he really created the modefor which all else has spewed forth both positively and negatively. By the way, it's not something just the right co-opted. It's something the left does on MSNBC as well. He's being remembered as controversial, but highly powerful figure. I was watching fox, and I mean, it was a -- it was like a president had passed. I mean, it was all about rush Limbaugh dying the entire -- every show the entire night, the entire day, and, you know, he was someone that certainly left his mark, but then I switched to another channel and there was no mention. He's as polarizing in death as he was in life. Right. Sara, what's your feelings? How will you remember him? Well, many people are mourning the loss of him today, and many are not, and I was not a fan at all of rush Limbaugh. I think he paved the way for political extremism and pushed baseless claims. He was the beginning of conspiracy theories. He was, like, the predecessor to the Alex joneses. A lot of things we're seeing we don't like now, he in a sense kind of bastardized the party in a way, because I know there are conservative ideals that sunny was referencing and, you know, many of us are saying, please speak up and represent those because I don't like to even think of him as representing Republicans or conservatives. He -- he represents very extreme views. He said a ton of despicable things that we could never -- we don't even have enough time on one show to cover, but some of the most offensive were at the lgbtq community during the AIDS epidemic. He used to run a regular segment called AIDS updates and mocked the deaths of gay men by playing "I'll never love this way again," and as recently as 2020, he said the country couldn't handle Pete buttigieg as a president because they would be sick watching him kiss his husband. This stuff, I have a visceral reaction to so many of his words, but the first thing that ran through my head when he saw the news was, now it's judgment at the end of our lives, it's just us answering for everything we did, with who we were, what we said, and how we treated people, and so now judgment day has arrived for rush Limbaugh. Well, I got to tell you I'm -- I'm hoping that his legacy will be the return of the fairness doctrine. The fairness doctrine required that stations on air to air contrasting responsible views on important issues at the threat of losing their license. The doctrine was -- is considered to be -- considered stations to be public trusts. It was gutted by Reagan in 1987. The FCC eliminated the fairness doctrine, drastically loosening news standards. So I would like his legacy to be a return to the fairness doctrine because quite honestly I don't mind hearing two sides of a discussion. What I do mind is hearing the vitriol and the hate that people seem to spew both on television and in radio, and I feel like if we had to go back to finding a civil tongue whether you felt that way or not, but you had to find it, I would feel much joy, you had something else? No. I just wanted to remind everybody that rush Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox who had Parkinson's disease and therefore did not have control of his movements and trump did the same thing to a journalist if you recall, and there were other similarities between the two, and I think that trump actually learned to talk the way rush talked. He thought -- they all think they're funny, also. Rush used to think he was a comedian. Trump thinks he's hilarious when he's out there with his trumpites, you know, loving everything he says. Right. I think there's a direct connection between rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump, and where we are today. Yes, as Meghan says. He was a huge influence in the Republican party, and unfortunately we're living with it, and the judgment day, what about it? What about it? The pushback on the doctrine that whoopi said is that part of the reason people like rush are popular is there are no conservatives in mainstream media. What you are asking for is we should have another Republican on "The view." There's only one, and there's four of you. If we're going to be equal on all knows and we're going to put in -- by the way, "The view" is under the blanket of news, and that doctrine you're talking about goes toward everything. The reason these vacuums exist is because they are so underrepresented. I was not a fan of rush Limbaugh. He attacked my family much like trump did for a long time, but I understand why people like that get into power when these kind of voices have no other place. And you agree that it's funny, like I said? No, of course, I don't agree it's funny, but I'm saying if we're going to bring it to the doctrine where it has to be equal voices on networks, there can't just be one token conservative on every show. Well, that wasn't the way that it was, but that's where we are now. There used to be, you know, two black women and two conservatives or one conservative and one black woman, you know, the bottom line is whatever the discussions are because it doesn't mean you can't talk, you know? It doesn't mean that you can't talk or that you're going to be ridiculed. I'm just saying, you know, if that was what -- if we are the stewards of what people feel and think, then we should go back to being the stewards, whether we're in entertainment or whether we're in news. I just think it would be better for everybody if we could have these discussions, but I have to

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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