Despite own complaints about "chickification of the news," Limbaugh criticized Rather's "pure sexism" toward Couric

››› ››› ADAM SERWER

On the June 12 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh criticized as "pure sexism" recent statements by Dan Rather regarding the CBS Evening News, in which Rather said that CBS was "try[ing] to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience." After airing this portion of Rather's response, Limbaugh said, "Now, when I saw this last night -- I was talking about this -- I said this is -- that's sexism. Dan Blather [sic], this is pure sexism -- dumb it down and tart it up." However, in the past, Limbaugh himself has complained about the number of women working in journalism and their adverse effect on the news media.

During a June 11 interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough asked Rather about CBS' purported decision to "soften the news," to which Rather responded: "I want to make very clear that I have nothing against [Evening News anchor] Katie Couric at all. She's a very nice person, and I have a lot of friends at CBS News. However, it was clear at the time -- and I think it's become even clearer -- that the mistake was to try to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."

On his May 8 broadcast, Limbaugh discussed "the fact that newsrooms -- local and national newsrooms in television -- have been overrun with women" and lamented this so-called " 'chickification' of the news":

LIMBAUGH: [T]here's no denying that women have become more prevalent in editor-producer positions. And it -- we've call it the "chickification" of the news here. And one of the things that results from the chickification of the news is we have to have dialogue. We just have to have dialogue. We're going to have -- we're going to have dialogue. To hell with whether anything being discussed is properly built, is true, or any of this. And it's all about feeling good about ourselves. By the way, one -- and yes, we have to have closure after the dialogue. We must have closure.

During the same broadcast, Limbaugh went on to complain about the "feminization of America," describing men as having "linguini spines" and women as "pretty much taking over." Limbaugh then returned to women's effect on the news media:

LIMBAUGH: The chickification of the news is nothing more than you admit to me that men and women are different. Women look at things different. They have different interests, and they now have more positions of prominence in the news business than they used to have.

On the June 4 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh mocked an article by Associated Press staff writer David Bauder that addressed Couric's tenure as Evening News anchor. In the article, Bauder reported that Linda Mason, the standards chief for CBS' news division, had "speculated" that Couric's ratings have languished because "a tradition-bound audience was reluctant to get the day's news from a woman." Referring to the article, Limbaugh said:

LIMBAUGH: Do you know why Katie's ratings are the lowest that CBS has ever had in the evening? Do you know why? No, no. Nothing to do with her. It's not that she's not good at it. Well, it's something to do with her, but it's something she can't control. It's sexism, folks. It's pure bigotry. You people in the audience just will not watch a woman do the news. You just won't do it. It's your fault! That's the -- I mean, I could read the whole story to you here, but that pretty much sums it up. You people are a bunch of bigots. You'd rather watch a bunch of doddering old men, saliva dripping down the corners of their mouths than you would watch a babe or a woman do the news.

And, of course, what's absurd about this is that the chickification of the news in this country from local to national newsrooms and networks has been accomplished. They're all over the place. They're producing. They're reporting. They're anchoring. We've got anchorettes. We've got info babes. They're all over cable news. In fact, most of them are blonde. Where does this supply come from? There's an endless supply of them out there. One blonde goes, another blonde comes in. They're all over the place out there, and it hasn't hurt the cable network people at all in terms of the news.

From the June 11 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: You know, Dan, the thing that Chris Licht [executive producer of MSNBC's Scarborough Country] was talking about -- maybe you read in the Times, or I don't know where you read it -- but there was, seemed to me, this terrible miscalculation by Rome Hartman and a couple of CBS News execs that they were going to soften up the news, and that way they could expand their viewership. Yeah, I would think that if I'm sitting down at 6:30 to get the news, to see what's happened in the day, I don't want fluff stories. Do you think that's one of the problems that Katie Couric's had coming in -- that maybe they tried to re-brand the Evening News in a way that Americans just didn't want to accept?

RATHER: Well, I totally agree with you, Joe. That -- I want to make very clear that I have nothing against Katie Couric at all. She's a very nice person, and I have a lot of friends at CBS News. However, it was clear at the time -- and I think it's become even clearer -- that the mistake was to try to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience. And I just don't think people at 6:30 or 7 o'clock at night, or even 5:30 in the Central Time Zone or 6 o'clock when it's seen, that that's what they want. This is the continuation of a trend that we've talked about before, Joe and Mika [Brzezinski] and John [Ridley], and that is the combination of what I call the corporatizing of the news, has led to the trivializing the news.

From the May 8 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: And finally, before we go to break, from the BBC -- well, actually this is Daily Mail in the U.K. The BBC has been ruined by women producing terrible programs, according to Sir Patrick Moore. He's an astronomer. He's 84. He said the corporation needed to revert to the golden days when the news was presented by men with impeccable English.

We've talked about on this program before the subject of the fact that newsrooms -- local and national newsrooms in television -- have been overrun with women. And here's what he says. "He was asked if television had got better or worse. He says, 'Much worse. The trouble is the BBC is now run by women, and it shows -- soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays. You wouldn't have had that in the golden days.' Asked about female newsreaders, he said, 'There was one day in 2005 when BBC News went on strike. Then we had the headlines read by a man talking the Queen's English, reading the news impeccably. Oh, for the good old days.' "

That's a generational thing going on here, obviously, the man is 84 years old. And, you know, everybody that age looks back and thinks that the golden age was the era in which they lived. He may have a point here, but there's no denying that women have become more prevalent in editor-producer positions. And it -- we've call it the "chickification" of the news here. And one of the things that results from the chickification of the news is we have to have dialogue. We just have to have dialogue. We're going to have -- we're going to have dialogue. To hell with whether anything being discussed is properly built, is true, or any of this. And it's all about feeling good about ourselves. By the way, one -- and yes, we have to have closure after the dialogue. We must have closure.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: OK. What do I mean by the feminization of America?

CALLER: Right.

LIMBAUGH: What I mean by the feminization of America is that feminist doctrine of the modern era, which has its roots in the late '60s and early '70s, has cowed men. Men now have linguini spines, and women and the way they think and do things, pretty much taking over, or is making inroads in a lot places, particularly in education, all the way up to higher education.

CALLER: OK. Well, and it --

LIMBAUGH: Lookit. There -- would you agree with me that men and women are different?

CALLER: Absolutely.

LIMBAUGH: All right. Well, that's all -- women are what they are and who they are, and men used to be who they are --or were. But, you know, men [sigh] -- trapped. I mean, men -- they'll do anything to get where they want to go. The promised land, if you know what I mean. So, there's been this -- there has [chuckling] --

CALLER: [laughing]

LIMBAUGH: There's just been a general decline of masculine culture, masculinity, and when it shows up, it's lampooned and made fun of, and it's called brute force and so forth. The chickification of the news is nothing more than you admit to me that men and women are different. Women look at things different. They have different interests, and they now have more positions of prominence in the news business than they used to have.

CALLER: So, I guess what I'm trying to say, though, is that like -- to de -- emasculate a man isn't the same as feminizing him. Like, I don't think that the lack of masculinity is femininity. So, it's -- to me, like, when you're saying that, you're kind of saying, like -- to be a woman is to be linguini-spined.

LIMBAUGH: To be a woman is to be -- what?

CALLER: Linguini-spined. When you say that feminization --

LIMBAUGH: No! No, no, no, no. Men are linguini-spined when they become like women, but women are not linguini -- this -- you're opening a big can of worms here, because I actually think that in many cases, women have stronger constitutions than men, and this proves it.

CALLER: [laughing] What proves it? Me?

LIMBAUGH: No, no, no. Not you. The fact that men are capitulating all over the place.

From the June 12 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: You've got to hear these next two sound bites, folks. They are of Dan Blather [sic], formerly of the CBS Evening News. Yesterday, he was on MSNBC with Joe Scarborough, who was working in the morning. And Scarborough said there was this terrible miscalculation by Rome Hartman -- a producer over at CBS Evening News. And a couple CBS news execs said they were going to soften up the news, and that way they could expand their viewership, get more women in there. Do you think that's one of the problems Katie Couric's had coming in, that maybe they tried to re-brand the evening news in a way that Americans just don't want to accept?

[begin audio clip]

RATHER: Well, I totally agree with you, Joe. That -- I want to make very clear that I have nothing against Katie Couric at all. She's a very nice person, and I have a lot of friends at CBS News. However, it was clear at the time -- and I think it's become even clearer -- that the mistake was to try to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News and to dumb it down, tart it up, in hopes of attracting a younger audience.

[end audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: Yeah, this is a clever technique, folks. I myself have used this technique. I love Katie Couric! Oh, I love CBS -- I've got friends at CBS News. A lot of respect for what goes on over there. And then you slam them. Tarting up the news. Dumbing it down and tarting up the news. The Today show ethos.

Now, when I saw this last night -- I was talking about this -- I said this is -- that's sexism. Dan Blather [sic], this is pure sexism -- dumb it down and tart it up. So we went back today. Here's a montage of Dan Rather on the air on election night November 2000. This is a montage of Dan Rather's coverage. And let's listen to dumbing it down and tarting it up.

From the June 4 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: All right, perhaps the funniest news story out there today comes from our old buddy David Bauder at the Associated Press. And it explores the reasons why Katie Couric's ratings are in the toilet.

By the way, still no response from CBS News to my magnanimous offer to sit for an interview on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric to jump-start those ratings. Still no response. Offer stands. Don't expect to hear back from them.

Do you know why Katie's ratings are the lowest that CBS has ever had in the evening? Do you know why? No, no. Nothing to do with her. It's not that she's not good at it. Well, it's something to do with her, but it's something she can't control. It's sexism, folks. It's pure bigotry. You people in the audience just will not watch a woman do the news. You just won't do it. It's your fault! That's the -- I mean, I could read the whole story to you here, but that pretty much sums it up. You people are a bunch of bigots. You'd rather watch a bunch of doddering old men, saliva dripping down the corners of their mouths than you would watch a babe or a woman do the news.

And, of course, what's absurd about this is that the chickification of the news in this country from local to national newsrooms and networks has been accomplished. They're all over the place. They're producing. They're reporting. They're anchoring. We've got anchorettes. We've got info babes. They're all over cable news. In fact, most of them are blonde. Where does this supply come from? There's an endless supply of them out there. One blonde goes, another blonde comes in. They're all over the place out there, and it hasn't hurt the cable network people at all in terms of the news.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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