I have this theory about facts.
Yes, we live in a truth-challenged era. Yes, we live in alternate realities built upon red and blue facts that are often – especially in the former case – not factual at all, but only politically useful lies designed to fool the foolish and gull the gullible.
Like the birther idiocy. Like “Pizzagate.” Like widespread voter fraud. Like virtually everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, including “Good morning.”
But it has always seemed to me that, while we may lie to our heart’s content about what reality is, the facts have this way of eventually asserting themselves, regardless. Argue, for instance, that you are a so-called sovereign citizen who has found a loophole in the Constitution freeing you of the obligation to pay taxes, and agents of the federal government will eventually show up at your door to help you see how mistaken you are. They may even award you some shiny bracelets designed to alleviate your confusion.
And as satisfying as it is when the government disabuses cretins of dubious “facts,” it is a hundred times more so when nature does it. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hurricane Irma. …And radio talk show host Rush Hudson Limbaugh III who, just days ago, was heard opining how coverage of that monster storm was part of a giant left-wing conspiracy.
This “thinking” – if that word may be applied here – is not new to Limbaugh. “It is in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes,” he said last year, “because then they can blame it on climate change…”
With Irma knocking on the door, he expanded on these thoughts. “These storms, once they actually hit, are never as strong as they’re reported,” he claimed, adding that weather map graphics are designed to exaggerate the threat. According to Limbaugh, this is done as an act of collusion between news media and retailers.
” And the two coexist. So the media benefits with the panic with increased eyeballs, and the retailers benefit from the panic with increased sales, and the TV companies benefit because they’re getting advertising dollars from the businesses that are seeing all this attention from customers.”
Here’s the kicker: shortly after thus informing his audience that Hurricane Irma was a left-wing media hoax, Limbaugh informed them that he was evacuating South Florida. He gave no explanation of why he felt it necessary to run from a left-wing media hoax and we were left only with that satisfaction that comes of seeing facts crash into someone’s alternate reality like a tractor through a henhouse.
Mind you, that satisfaction is not nothing and I’m grateful to Limbaugh for it. But you know what would’ve been even better? If he’d had had the courage of his convictions and remained in South Florida to, as one observer put it, broadcast his show from a lawn chair outside his studio.
That would have been fun. I’d have popped popcorn for that.
Instead, he folded his tent and ran. From a liberal hoax. It turns out that even Limbaugh doesn’t believe Limbaugh.
And that’s a fact.