Many thanks to the numerous folks who’ve been linking to my posts about Rush Limbaugh’s Women’s Summit – now apparently called the EIB Network Female Summit. This Think Progress piece has nearly 150 comments – I’m sure there are some women with advice in there for Rush and why he’s got such an enormous gender gap in his listening audience.
Just a recap: As Rush announced yesterday, this Public Policy Polling report found that:
A new national survey from PPP finds 46% of Americans have a positive opinion of Rush Limbaugh while 43% view him unfavorably.
The numbers break down on demographic lines pretty much as one would expect. Men, Republicans, whites, and older voters like him. Women, Democrats, young voters, African Americans, and Hispanics don’t. The gender gap is one of the largest PPP has seen on any issue it’s polled in the last year, with Limbaugh having a +19 (56/37) net favorability among men, but a -12 (37/49) with women. 31 point gender gaps don’t come along all that often.
He was dismayed and decided to call for a women’s summit, as I wrote about here.
Today, he had his summit and you can read the full transcript here.
The highlights (which I hope people truly appreciate because I do not, as a rule, listen to or read Limbaugh but I put myself through the pain of reading the portions from today to get to the parts I thought readers might find the most interesting):
The mission statement:
My gender gap between men and women is 31%. Thirty-one percent is the differential between male approval and female approval. So yesterday I said, “What can I do about this? What could be done? What is the explanation for this?”
…the Female Summit must offer constructive criticism and hopefully some solutions…
The purpose of this hour, accept phone calls only from women who do either know somebody who has a big problem with me who is a woman, or as a woman herself has a problem with me, so that I can hear firsthand just what it is that causes women so many troubles with me.
…we’re going to take calls only from women in the last hour of the program today….We need to hear from women who don’t particularly love me, who don’t particularly like me, or from women who do like me who know women who hate me, who can tell me why. But more than that, we need calls from women who will have suggestions for what they think I should do to close the gender gap — You know, on a call-by-call, case-by-case basis. So what will happen right before the final hour, Snerdley will screen all the calls — or he’ll broom ’em.
At the break at the top of the hour for the third hour begins is when we will start taking calls only from women….I want to warn you: anybody caught trying to perpetrate a trick on this program and your host will be met with in a most direct, and what you might consider unkind, way. The first moment that I sniff deceit, you’re gone. I will break my rule of never hanging up on anyone and do it today. We’re serious about the Female Summit.
Can employees participate? Well, I assume so, but the employees must go through the regular channels. There will be no preferential treatment shown to callers.
Nobody will be called by us. There will not be any special super-secret phone numbers.
And, saying what only someone like Limbaugh would ever even think to say:
One thing about the Female Summit: sorry, no transsexuals. We’re not going to have anybody who’s had an addadictomy, and we’re not going to have anybody who’s had a chopadickoffamy. We’re going to have women from birth.
And he really wonders why there’s a gender gap? Sigh.
In the first call, from Dee Dee in San Francisco, Limbaugh learns that Dee Dee’s conservative schoolteacher friend does not like him because she thinks he is pompous. To which he says that people need to listen to his show for at least six weeks to get the gist but that if you don’t listen for at least six weeks, then people don’t get to realize that he is not pompous.
RUSH: I’m happy to do the Female Summit here, but I’m too pompous, somebody who’s listened one time? Do you tell her she’s wrong?
CALLER: Yes. We get in very heated debates quite often.
RUSH: Uninformed debates because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, she’s listened one time.
CALLER: Correct. Correct.
RUSH: Is the woman married? Does she have a boyfriend?
CALLER: She’s married. No children.
RUSH: Well, that’s fine. Okay. Well, I appreciate that. I appreciate the feedback. But “pompous”?
CALLER: Yeah. You know, I don’t know —
RUSH: …Your friend cited “pompous.” I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. There may be somebody who will call to talk about that, I’ll deal with that then, but as to this pompous stuff, that criticism, irrelevant, the woman’s never listened, I’m not pompous, I’m not changing that.
The next caller is Deborah in Brighton, Michigan. She tries to point out to Limbaugh that first, she enjoys listening to him but that sometimes he goes too far. The example she uses is when he had on a liberal blogger and he says that the best part about having her on was that she was a babe. Deborah suggests that it is much better if he just sticks with the valid critique of the liberal blogger, rather than comment on her being a babe:
After you said she was “a babe,” you know, in my mind and maybe in the mind of many other women listening, you totally diminished what you had said previously about her column. And, you know, in this time I think, you know, conservatives, we really need to pull together. And you, Rush, as a great leader and speaker for conservatism, you don’t need to dilute your message with who’s hot and who’s not. You know, leave that to someone else who has nothing better to say.
I think it might be a big turnoff for a lot of women.
So how does Rush handle this suggestion?
RUSH: I would say they need to lighten up, for crying out loud! Why do I have to change who I am? Why can’t they just lighten up? Infobabe! Why can’t they laugh? What is the problem with being light and lovable and just smiling now and then? Why must everything be said through gritted teeth and anger?
CALLER: It doesn’t have to be that way, but you don’t have to label it as an “infobabe.”
RUSH: (laughs) I’m not going to change that. That is a signature. I mean, that’s been picked up. Even if I stop using it, everybody else out there is using it. I guess next I should stop using the term “anchorette.”
Then, Rita from Manchester, Ohio calls in. She gets right to the point and says that he has to stop talking down to people, as if he knows everything, thinks he is better than everyone else and that his opinion does need to be everyone’s opinion.
And Rush says:
I really am not trying to talk down to people. I’m trying to inspire. I’m trying to motivate and lift people up. I don’t look at people as children. I probably have more respect for the intelligence of my audience than anybody else in the media. I do not ever think I’m talking down to people. That’s never in my mind. I don’t consider myself better than anybody in the audience.
I will try to be more conscious of talking down, because I really don’t want to. That wounds me to the heart, because I’m not an elitist. Elitists who are the people that talk down have contempt for people. I have nothing but love, admiration, and respect for all the people of this country, especially the ones in the audience.
The fourth caller on the air is Kaisha of California who says that she is a 27 year old student taking a gender studies class at California State University, Northridge and she has a textbook that cites Limbaugh as a chauvinist. She reads the section on the air and Rush responds thusly:
You know, we’re getting a liiiiittle bit astray here because we’ve moved now into what is the liberal curricula at most universities.
And it’s anti-conservative, and it’s not aimed just at women and Gender Studies. It’s found in history. It’s found in political science. It’s found in English lit. It’s found in phys ed. The universities are aligned this way, and the way to rebut this is to just let these women get out of school and grow up….
…You know, I’m not going to sit here and allow myself to be upset at being labeled certain things by these women who are reading it in a textbook, while they’ve never listened to the program. There’s nothing I can do about it, is the bottom line. There’s not one thing I can do about what those women think when I don’t have access to them.
The last caller, Janet from Grosse Pointe, Michigan has three suggestions for Rush:
…Make women believe you care more about them than their own husbands do.
…You need to project an air of vulnerability. You need to let women think they can roll you.
…stop saying abortion is the sacrament to liberalism. You can still say that liberalism is a religion because women like to think they’re religious, just drop the sacrament of abortion.
And does Limbaugh want to listen to what he should do?
Janet, you’re trying to emasculate me here. You’re trying to get me to shred every vestige of my identity here, to act like I can be hurt? Everybody can be hurt, but vulnerable? Vulnerable? Leaders run around acting like they’re vulnerable? I get the point, I get the point, you gotta be like Bill Clinton. (doing Clinton impression) “That means you gotta be able to lie. I don’t know how to lie.”
And that’s how Day One of The Rush Limbaugh Female Summit went today.
Let me repeat: Rush – yo – denial is not a river in Egypt, babe.