Rush Limbaugh stepped into it this time.
The most popular radio host in America is famous for spreading lies, propaganda, misogyny, and hate over our publicly owned airwaves. But the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the public interest in broadcasting, has consistently stood by Limbaugh's First Amendment right to say whatever he wants, no matter how many people he harms or offends.
Until, perhaps, now.
Limbaugh's Mug Shot
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On June 1, Limbaugh, in referring to a report about brisk job growth, used the word "bullshit."
Cussing on the air, my friends, is where the FCC draws the line. Under its indecency rules, the FCC takes "complaints alleging the broadcast of material that describes or depicts sexual or excretory material."
The FCC's rules about indecency are intended to protect children from seeing or hearing things over our publicly owned airwaves which parents believe may be damaging to them.
So ironically, racist statements Rush has made about the first African American Governor of New York, "So, David Paterson will become the massa who gets to appoint whoever gets to take Massa's place. So, for the first time in his life, Paterson's gonna be a massa. Interesting, interesting," or about Native Americans, "Holocaust?" Ninety million Indians? Only four million left? They all have casinos -- what's to complain about?" or about law school student Sandra Fluke testifying to Congress about access to contraception, "So Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch," are NOT considered harmful to children, at least as far as the FCC is concerned. But saying "bullshit" is.
Limbaugh, who has been a broadcaster for more than 40 years, ought to know better. Or maybe he does. Lately, Limbaugh has been veering dangerously close to the FCC indecency line, doing an impression of a little kid asking "What is a dildo?", saying he wants to vote for Ted Cruz because he likes to "spunk off," and questioning whether Caitlin Jenner has a penis, as he'd had to have had the "chopadickoffame" operation.
Perhaps he is taunting the FCC. But he does so at his own peril.
The minimum fine the FCC imposes for a single indecency offense is $7,000, and the maximum is $325,000. But Limbaugh's website says he airs on 590 individual stations nationwide. And you can bet that the Flush Rush Facebook group and #StopRush twitter volunteers, who have taken nearly every advertiser away from Limbaugh's program by simply educating sponsors as to what Rush really rants about, will be making complaints about every last station.
That would add up to a minimum fine of $4,130,000, but a maximum of $191,750,000. That is way too much money for stations who are already losing money airing Limbaugh's show to cough up.
And that's no B.S.