Right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is signing a contract with Clear Channel and Premiere Radio worth more than $400 million, the New York Times Magazine will report this Sunday. In addition to finagling a nine-figure signing bonus, Limbaugh has also taken to purchasing a new G550 jet and a pyramid of gilded skulls belonging to the financiers of Air America. The profile already seems like a softball (it'd have to be if Limbaugh agreed to it). The author is Zev Chafets, NYTM's house conservative and a former press officer for Menachem Begin (!), who previously wrote about Mike Huckabee's forgettable down-home charisma ("Lunch with Mike Huckabee is a study in faith-based dieting," "If there was magic there, it was working."). So far, the only advance Limbaugh quotes are the following:

"If your team isn't in it, you root for the team you hate less. That's McCain."

"[Obama]'s a liberal. I oppose liberals. That's all that's involved here."

Hard-hitting. I guess malaise is the price you pay for being halfway to billionaire. The old Rush would've at least worked in a crack about Obama fathering a black child in wedlock.

It's no surprise that, apart from the vaguely Soprano-ish cover, the Magazine's taken to bland, shore-hugging stuff like this. Long gone are the Days of Moss. The new editor Gerry Marzorati is stretched thin with keeping tabs on T, the NYT's new fashion magazine, and his idea of risk-taking cover stories is, well, you know.

UPDATE: The Times has posted the profile online this afternoon. Choice nuggets:

"ANTICIPATING A QUESTION," Limbaugh said when we pulled into the garage of his secluded beachfront mansion in Palm Beach, "why do I have so many cars?"

I hadn't actually been wondering that. Very rich people tend not to stint on transportation.

Unlike many right-wing talk-show hosts, Limbaugh does not view France with hostility. On the contrary, he is a Francophile. His salon, he told me, is meant to suggest Versailles. His main guest suite, which I did not personally inspect, was designed as an exact replica of the presidential suite of the George V Hotel in Paris.

LIMBAUGH WAS A FAILURE almost as long as he has been a success. And although he is now an apostle of sunshine ("having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have," he crows on his show), he spent many years trying to convince his family - and himself - that he wasn't wasting his life.

Like the great black singers of his generation, Limbaugh took the familiar pieties and ambient sounds of his time and place and used them to create a genre of entertainment, full of humor, passion and commercial possibility. There are many ways to look at Rush Limbaugh III: one is that he is the first white, Goldwater Republican soul shouter.

[The Radio Equalizer]


[New York Times Magazine]