Editor's Note: This is the only place you'll be able to read this one -- No. 43. Topic is too hot to handle for my publishing partner, the BH. Tell your friends they can find Dick's column here.
Few readers know that I worked as an orderly during my college years because, well, because I couldn’t land a job at a newspaper and my sister happened to be director of nursing at the hospital that hired me.
Yes, it’s whom you know. But that’s not what this story is about. It’s about Cleveland’s Gary Dee, perhaps the first radio “shock jock,” to whom right-winger Rush Limbaugh owes his career. Dee paved the way.
So, one morning at the hospital, I entered a room to do what nurses and orderlies are so good at doing – waking patients from sleep because, well, that’s what nurses and orderlies do. But in this particular room, the patient was already up, sitting on the side of his bed. He had the radio on. And he was cursing.
“Geez, what are you so upset about?” I asked.
“That darn Gary Dee,” he said (except he didn’t use the word “darn”).
“He’s an idiot!”
I told the patient that he shouldn’t get so worked up because, after all, he was a heart patient and really needed to watch the blood pressure.
“I can’t help it,” he said. “I just hate that guy.”
“Why do you listen to him?” I asked.
“I don’t know. He gets me all fired up.”
When Gary Dee first joined WERE Radio in Cleveland in 1972, he had shocked enough to scare $1 million in advertising away from the station, according to his obituary published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1995.
But after the ratings came out – they skyrocketed for Dee’s show – the money flowed back to the station.
Dee’s rants included, “Get out of here, you yellow-bellied, lily-livered pinko.” The PD called that “a common refrain.”
Blacks were often targets, the PD said.
“You black people are fools,” Dee said on the air. “You are fools to put up with what you have, inferior leadership and all that.”
At one point, while working for another Cleveland station – WHK – Dee proclaimed that Jerry Lewis was skimming 40 percent for personal use from the Muscular Dystrophy telethons. WHK took out advertising to disconnect itself from that statement.
Dee kicked around radio for the next couple of decades, but, at least in some people’s minds, had set the standard for talk radio – say outlandish things, drive ratings and make lots of money.
I’m not sure what happened to the patient addicted to Gary Dee’s show. But I think if he were alive today, he’d probably be listening to Rush Limbaugh and his crazy rants. I know he’d be reading those online comments that debase individuals on a regular basis.
The Plain Dealer, for example, posted an online story the other day on a new anchor hired at Channel 3. The online commentators saw that as an opportunity to attack a half-dozen or so Cleveland TV personalities who didn’t measure up in their simple minds. Hours after those comments were first posted, they were still there.
But back to Limbaugh, who has chased big time advertisers from his syndicated radio talk show with his comments about Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke.
Fluke testified before a congressional committee about the need – as she saw it – for Georgetown, a Catholic institution, to provide female students medical coverage for contraceptives. She told of a friend who had an ovary removed because of the prohibitive cost of birth control pills, which are often prescribed by doctors not for sexual reasons but for medical ones.
It’s a debate we probably ought to have in this country, because it involves the rights of women vs. the rights of churches vs. the power of the government and so on. We should be able to discuss such issues as adults and explore solutions together – as Americans.
Here’s Limbaugh’s take (Sources: Many):
“What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke (sic), who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex…
“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope…”
Limbaugh wasn’t done.
Fluke is “having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk,” he cracked.
And then, Limbaugh offered this: “So, Ms. 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 for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
I think the Republic will be far better off when we dismiss the “shock jocks,” the cheapshot TV pundits and the hateful online commentators from the discussion. Hopefully, Limbaugh will be the first to get on the train out of town. I hope the others follow him. Rest in peace, Gary Dee.
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