An Open Letter to Michael O’Shea, General Manager of KGMI

Mr. O’Shea,

While your letter attempts to provide cover for your ultimate decision to keep the Limbaugh show in your line up, I find your rationalization somewhat lacking.

Your first complaint is your request for letters from the community went semi-viral and even people who aren’t members of the “community” responded.  Are we all not part of the community that Rush is addressing?  He does, after all, have an American stage upon which he comments on each and every show.

Do we who live locally in the community not have children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, parents, cousins and friends who not only live in Bellingham, but live all across the country?  Or those who have once lived in Bellingham, who still care for the community?  Should they not have a voice to speak about someone on the national stage that has connections to those living in Bellingham?

You rationalize your decision because your listeners, when polled, responded resoundingly to keep Rush.  Of course they did.  You failed to mention in your letter that the vast majority of KGMI’s programming lineup is right wing radio – most of whom have had their own accusations of spewing hate speech.  This is your listening audience – those who approve of trashing women, denigrating immigrants and minorities.  They seek approval and reinforcement of their bigotry.  Furthermore, the Limbaugh model is now in full use by Fox and other right wing celebrities who have convinced their audience the “truth” cannot be found elsewhere.  This captured audience model has been very effective in keeping and growing their viewer/listenership, as well as the Republican Party.  It relieves those who listen of the burden of seeking and finding the truth elsewhere, as they have been assured it can be found no where else.   It provides for no alternate view or discussion of other options or positions.  It provides for no moderation or consensus that would lead to the solutions needed for our various problems.  It simply reinforces the “my way or the highway” mentality that keeps us in gridlock.

It also promotes hate and fear of those deemed to be anyone other than Republicans.

Apparently, you agree as well – otherwise you would devote equal time to those who speak to the many serious issues that face us as a nation, rather than wasting airtime on those who offer no solutions other than bumper sticker slogans and the debasement of various members of our society.  We do have serious problems – shouldn’t we be discussing them and coming to consensus as to how to solve them, rather than just de-humanizing those who have different approaches, or are of a different color or religion, or are poor, or women?

Our Constitution was designed to make finding solutions difficult – forcing all involved to build consensus so ultimately all sides had representation; that everyone walked away from the bargaining table with something.

KMGI primarily represents only one point of view.  That is, of course, your decision.  It is also, of course, the decision of listeners, as well as other members of the community who are the brunt of the hate speech spewed forth from these programs as to whether they choose to support those advertisers in the community who, while they do not support Rush, do, as you outlined, support your station.  And while you threaten the loss of the jobs for your 57 employees should those advertisers pull their support, you failed to mention that those advertising dollars contribute to your own bank account, along with the labor of your workers, who also create wealth for you.  Are you willing to give that up, not only for your 57 employees, but yourself as well?  I doubt it.  I’m guessing you would find other programming first.  You, like the hosts you air, are doing nothing more but fear mongering.

How many of those employees are women?  Have an immigrant background?  Are minorities?  Have you polled them?  How do they feel about the comments Rush makes on an almost daily basis?

I am reminded of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts against “communists” who, of course, happened to be “liberals” and members of the Democratic (not Democrat – another oft repeated intended slur) Party.

Limbaugh and his ilk are merely another iteration of McCarthyism – you won’t hear these same slurs against Republican women – going after liberals, “FemiNazis” (a common refrain), women (most recently) who are “over-educated.”  Tell us, how a person can be “over-educated?”  Are those in the medical community who find cures for cancer “over-educated?”   Some of them are women as well.

These have been common refrains for much of Limbaugh’s career – to the point women expect it from him.  Where he went too far (that you also ignored in your letter and Limbaugh has also ignored) is asking for the sex tapes to be aired for all to see while Ms. Fluke “prostituted” her self using (what he somehow has convinced himself we taxpayers will be paying for) birth control pills that he apparently believes must be taken, like Viagra, before each sexual encounter.

Let’s clear this up shall we?  Ms. Fluke is asking birth control pills be provided as part of the insurance coverage (that the church prohibits be included) she and other students would be allowed to obtain under their plans, that they themselves PAY for.  The university doesn’t pay for the coverage, the students do.  The university is simply the medium by which the plan is offered so that students (like your employers) can get better group rates.

Birth control pills (for those who lack this information) are taken on a daily basis for the most part.  There are, however, other forms that are monthly or longer.

What Rush asked for was the right to view a pornography video – this coming from someone who represents the party of so called “family values” who wants to sit down with his box of popcorn and watch Ms. Fluke in the process of sexual intercourse with another person.  Where was Rush’s apology for making this statement?  Non-existent.  His apology was “choosing the wrong words in my analogy” during his three day rant.  I guess he’s sorry he didn’t call her a whore or a “B itchy,” words he uses consistently when speaking of women, rather than “slut” and “prostitute.”

For content, his apology is below:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

I think it absurd that he falsely purports that tax payers would be paying for birth control pills.

I think it disgusting he would reduce the debate to a porn tape.

Rush began is tirade against Ms. Fluke on February 29.

On March 5 2012 VioletFemme19th uploaded a clip: March 5 2012 uploaded by VioletFemme

When listening/reading his statements, one tends to wonder if his comments are praise, a lament, or fear of the power of women, especially when the text is sprinkled with words like “hooks, progressivism, independence, equalization of wages, more education, the balance of power will change in favor of women, [women] will have more say over the political agenda, gender role reversal,” all of which appear to be an anathema to Rush and the current crop of GOP leaders.  One also wonders who wrote this for Rush – his history reflects none of these sentiments, if indeed they are sincere.

Rush Limbaugh here, your guiding light.

I’m an expert on many things, but at the top of the list of things about which I’m an expert is feminism. Fem-in-ism. What was early feminism all about? Emancipation, individuality, freedom, liberation, all of these things. Feminism was getting hooks, roots dug deep, and so forth: a good moment for women.

In the late 60’s, the modern era of feminism, Gloria Steinem was revered by feminists. And of course, feminism was about tolerance, open-mindedness, progressivism, independence, equal pay for equal work, work for improved treatment of women. If it weren’t for the gains of the women’s movement, which have produced a steady equalization of women’s wages and new incentives for women to get more education, the balance of power will change in favor of women. Women will gain share in politics, they’ll have more say over the political agenda.

Historically, marriage was the surest route to financial security for women. Nowadays, feminism is about independence, equality of opportunity. Mainstream feminism today is about women’s health, women’s reproductive rights, birth control, contraceptive coverage. Without insurance coverage, contraception–as you know–can cost a woman over a thousand dollars a year, but the Republicans are denying women contraceptives. The Republicans eventually are going to be devoured by their own policies.

Today, women control half the wealth in the U.S. In the past, when relatively few wives worked, marriage enhanced the economic status of women more than that of men, but that has all turned around because of the proliferation of working wives over the past 40 years, a period in which American women outpaced men in both education and earnings growth. Women do have greater enrollments at the institutions of higher learning. These trends have contributed to a gender role reversal.

But you know how unfair our culture is to women: the definition of a misogynist is a man who hates women, says she’s a slut, a prostitute. Where do these premises come from? What have we done with our hearts? How did we become so cruel? How did we become so heartless? None of this evolved naturally. The rest of society must assume responsibility.

This continual playing to stereotypes must stop. It must be challenged, and it must be swept aside. Women face enough tough decisions each and every day, particularly during this recession. We all know that during economic downturns, women and minorities are hardest hit, and it’s no different now.

There has to be a way to bring us all together. There has to be a way to bring all of us, men and women, together on this. We need a bi-gender plan. If we can find some common ground along these lines, then we can all get along. The feminists have been working for years toward this end. Doesn’t every woman think, “just give me the chance, I can change this. I can change this.”

That’s feminism.

Rush states, “This continual playing to stereotypes must stop. It must be challenged, and it must be swept aside.”  — Yes, Mr. Limbaugh, it does and that is exactly what we are doing.  Demanding it be stopped, challenging your role in it and doing what we can so that it can be swept aside.  Thank you for agreeing with us.

Does Rush accept his own responsibility for his rants when he states, “The rest of society must assume responsibility” or does he answer how he himself became so heartless and cruel?  No, he accepts no responsibility or blame – could it be because he has no children of his own?

And then on March 6, one day after this clip was posted, the answer to his sincerity was revealed when he stated on the air:

What is it with all of these young, single, white women – over educated, doesn’t mean intelligent…example Tracey McMillen, the author of this book…

One only need go to YouTube to find clip after clip of Rush’s vitriol and de-humanization of all categories of people, except the white male.  How can one accept his March 5 position, when his 20+ year career does not reflect it.

Rush made clear what he thinks of liberal women – the “FemiNazis” as he calls them in this November 8, 2011 clip:

Limbaugh Blasts Liberalism and the FemiNazi’s

He remarks that Herman Cain had wanted to be introduced to the “Egyptian “bidness” woman” who asked him a question and then laughs when recounting how Herman Cain stuck the women with the bill for two $400 bottles of wine [that Cain ordered], “Heh heh heh heh.”

He further laments how “liberalism has roared through our culture, at times it has been sneaky, slow, [and] deliberate.”

He deems sexual harassment “a political weapon” for doing things in “the old days that was nothing.”

He suggests if a man tells a woman she’s attractive, even on a date, he will be accused of sexual harassment and that, “You women why don’t you just put on some burkas and I guarantee you everyone will leave you alone.”  (A double slam incorporating the Islamic culture into the mix.)

He purports “by the virtue of just being a man,” “FemiNazis taught that all men are predators” in the 90’s.

He goes on saying there are “people who walk around afraid to say what they think,” and then he comments, “I don’t care what people say, I don’t care what they think.  That’s a very liberating thing.  …Well, I can’t say with a full 100% blanket that I don’t care — obviously I use discretion in certain things, places because I don’t have anonymity, because I’m so famous…”

Yes, Mr. O’Shea, there is a lot of passion.  Women fought for over 100 years to get the vote in this country.  Our right to vote came after African American males received that right.  We had no right of privacy over our medical decisions until Roe v. Wade.  When our men beat us, our pastors told us to go home and be better wives.  When we were called to work as our men went off to war, we went gladly to help our country.  And when our men returned, they were provided an opportunity to receive higher education, while we were expected to return to the kitchen.  Those who didn’t were accused of taking a job away from a man.  And when the economy called for more women to enter the work place so families could send their kids to college or own a home, we were still accused of taking a job from a man and told we belonged at home.  We’ve fought to own property, to obtain the right of divorce, and much more and still we do not have equitable wages.   What do you expect us to do?  Return to the kitchen?

And I will address Bill Maher’s comments – they were offensive and I physically flinched when I heard he said the word, having been called a “cunt” by a male co-worker many years ago.  I’ll make no excuse for him, no more than I’d make one for Limbaugh.  These are hurtful words that have never had a place in our society.  President Obama was so offended he returned Mr. Maher’s contribution to his campaign.

I grew up in Rush’s Midwest.  Cape Girardeau, MO was but a mere 123 miles from my home town.  I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s when Rush did.  I know very well the Midwest mentality toward blacks and women…an attitude still prevalent in the small Midwestern towns dotting the countryside where jobs were lost during the two great migrations of blacks coming north.  Those hatreds are deeply embedded in the white mentality in those areas.  These are the sentiments Rush plays to.  The continual division to obtain political power.  Neither party is innocent of it.  The question is whether or not as citizens of this country that we have simply had enough of the division and understand that if we want this country to continue to be the great country is has become, we cannot do it by hating and fearing each other.

There was another time in our history when the political rhetoric got out of control – when a former Vice-President, John C. Calhoun, wrote his “Dissertation on Government” and laid the groundwork for the minority obstructing the majority, which is occurring today.

The lack of civility then (as dueling had by then been outlawed) led to the Civil War over the same rhetoric that we hear today involving state’s rights.  It was a time when President Lincoln was portrayed in political cartoons as a monkey while holding the Emancipation Proclamation [].

Sadly, the Grand Old Party of Lincoln is now the Party of McCarthy, promoting hate and fear.

If you choose to be a party to promoting the incivility of this, so be it.  Hiding your decision behind those of others is disingenuous at best, be honest – admit you share them.  Those who agree with you will relish your honesty.  Those who don’t agree with you have already figured it out.

I am also reminded of Attorney Joseph Welch’s remarks to Senator McCarthy – remarks that ultimately ended the Senator’s career:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

I ask you Mr. O’Shea, where is your sense of decency.  We know Rush Limbaugh has none.  But do you?


6 comments. Leave a Reply

  1. Karen Weston

    Thank you, Diana, for this thoughtful response — very well said!

  2. Kate

    Wow, that is an amazing letter. I bow down to you! :bowdown: Thank you for writing everything I’m feeling. Mr. O’Shea’s letter was an offense to our intelligence, and I’m happy you called him out on it. Best of luck, Diana.

  3. Update:  Well, Michael O’Shea, it’s time to get the shredder out and your bowl of Raisin Bran. I’m sure you’re familiar with AlterNet? Turns out almost a year ago – March 29, 2011, AlterNet journalist Melissa MeEwan took on Bill Maher’s comments about Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Read it and weep, Michael. BTW – please film your breakfast for a YouTube upload so we can all enjoy it, will you?

    Unacceptable: Sexist Bill Maher Calls Sarah Palin the C-Word

  4. Thank you both Karen and Kate.

  5. Janet Lutz-Smith

    Oh, my!  You have said it ALL in your letter to KGMI’s Manager. Thank you!
    One thought I had about the way he gathered his “information” and received the 70/30% — the 70% are naturally the  KGMI listeners because those of us who used to listen to KGMI quit listening 20 years ago when Rush Limbaugh came on the scene and stole the prime time away from us.  We tried to tell the managers at that time that his hateful message was not acceptable in our community BUT we were not listened to at that time either.  I love you, Diana McGuinness for your thoughtfulness and truthful insight in our current political situation!

  6. Update:  Clear Channel (aka Premiere) has suspended ALL national advertising for the next two weeks in the hopes people with lose interest in Rush and move on.

    Well, ladies – shall we prove to them that we care enough about our daughters and granddaughters that we can and will stay engaged long enough to end this now?

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