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Richard Corliss Responds to Our Limbaugh Theory

In Salon, Richard Corliss vehemently denies he was the writer threatened with retaliation if he didn’t soften a piece on Rush Limbaugh. He calls my theory “irresponsible bullshit” and says he was not contacted by Limbaugh (or, presumably, anyone connected with Limbaugh, who implied on the air that it was his people, not him, who made the threats).

I am deeply sorry if I was off base. What I wrote was clearly labeled speculation — not unlike the endless speculation on the identity of Deep Throat and the source of Valerie Plame leak. Outlandish comparisons? If a politically powerful radio host with an audience of millions intimidates or blackmails a major magazine writer into pulling his punches in a profile, that is a huge story — and one that people should speculate about.

As I made clear in my statement to Salon and (I hoped) this blog, I respect Corliss and admire what he wrote about pornography all those years ago in the Village Voice. It was a fascinating piece, to which he has since alluded in print (cheekily adding that it “will never be anthologized”). I do, however, take issue with his characterization of my theory as a “ludicrous fantasy.” There aren’t many major newsweeklies in this country (I count three), and I don’t know how else to explain the meaning of Limbaugh’s threat to expose the writer as no different from Al Goldstein (a famous pornmeister of the seventies and eighties) on account of the fact that they both masturbate. Did Corliss get conflated with someone else in Limbaugh’s mind?

The point of the blog entry was to underscore (a) Limbaugh’s gangsterism (“We know where your kids go to school” is a threat too monstrous even for Tony Soprano) and (b) the preposterous fixation (which originated with Limbaugh, not me) on the shame of masturbation. That’s a snapshot of the wingnut mentality right there: “We’ll go after your kids — and then tell people you masturbate!”

Richard Corliss: Rush Didn't Threaten Me [Salon]

Earlier: We Might Know Whom Rush Limbaugh Threatened [The Projectionist]

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