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A second look at Limbaugh's travails

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted January 12, 2004

Several months have elapsed and I thought it might be interesting to re-examine the plight of radio megastar Rush Limbaugh. In my previous article on Limbaugh's troubles entitled "Limbaugh's Secret Life", I was initially criticized for accepting The National Enquirer's contention that he was addicted to prescription narcotics. Heck, I was also skewered for surmising that the conservative icon was likely to be subject to arrest, pursuant to his drug activities. In hindsight, I think my points were well taken. My article came out about five days before Limbaugh publicly acknowledged his addiction and need for rehabilitation. And now criminal charges against Rush might be unavoidable, if the Palm Beach prosecutor has his way. I have no crystal ball, just plenty of life experience. In fact, I'll be quite happy if I'm wrong about this situation. However, there's no need to fret -- even if Limbaugh takes some type of plea, he's looking at court supervision rather than jail time.

Now for some pertinent background information --The National Enquirer vets its front page exposés of celebrities with a phalanx of attorneys, certainly more thoroughly than anything that you would read on the front page of The New York Times. That's a sad commentary on our modern culture, isn't it? Common sense dictates that the tabloid was not going to place itself at the mercy of Limbaugh and a libel suit. The National Enquirer couldn't afford to be wrong. That said, I rightly judged that the essence of the story – Limbaugh's significant addiction to painkillers – had to be accurate otherwise the publication would not have gone to print with it. But what about those that categorically reject anything published in The National Enquirer, claiming that it's all pure drivel rife with abundant sensationalism? I'll readily concede there's a lot of innuendo and spinning that's intended for pure titillation purposes in The National Enquirer – but lead stories (such as the Limbaugh piece) often contain significant morsels of truth, which is directly attributable to decent investigative reporting by journalists such as David Wright and oversight by attorneys. To some degree, The National Enquirer and its sister paper, The Star, get a bum rap. Many "junk paper" aficionados point out that the supermarket tabloids sell millions of copies each week precisely because they deliver genuine tidbits to their readership.

Since Limbaugh's return from residential treatment, he's verbally eviscerated the tabloid for relying on the statements of a couple who had "blackmailed" him. His anger toward the tabloid is totally understandable. However, it's important to note that although The National Enquirer didn't get everything right in their article on Limbaugh, it certainly got much of the story right – at least the key elements. As an aside, Limbaugh violated a fundamental precept in life that you should never, ever permit yourself to be blackmailed. And it demonstrates Limbaugh's depths of despair in his attempts to manage a dire, no-win situation. Ultimately, it was really Limbaugh's responsibility to have gone directly to law enforcement authorities if he was being blackmailed, but he chose not to do so. Clearly, he wanted to avoid scrutiny of his own drug involvement.

Despite Limbaugh's shortcomings, his fans have remained profoundly loyal. Rush's audience numbers are peaking at an all-time high due to his incisive political analysis that's the best around. And, of course, fans missed him terribly during his hiatus. Sure, they're a bit disappointed that Limbaugh was not ahead of the curve on tackling his drug difficulties. Obviously, they would have preferred that he had confronted his demons and committed to necessary rehabilitation before being "ratted out" by a tabloid. But all-in-all, Limbaugh's audience has come to grips with his frailties and they are now a major source of encouragement for his continued recovery.

Addicts are profoundly resistant to change, and engage in countless lies and manipulations in order to perpetuate their substance abuse. Unfortunately, they have to "hit bottom" before seeking treatment, and for Rush that meant being humbled by a very painful scandal and concomitant legal problems. Limbaugh now acknowledges that he was wrong to think that he could control his substance abuse by virtue of sheer "will". He speaks glowingly of his four-week experience in residential care, which has led him to embrace a more helpful approach in his day-by-day battle with addiction. That's certainly good news and bodes well for his sobriety. And to those of you that are offended by this "psycho-babble" (and there are some, I've read your comments), just take a deep breathe, relax, and consider it one of your "Zen moments".

However, Limbaugh's legal travails continue. Of course, Limbaugh's attorney Roy Black would like to extricate him from all criminal liability, if possible. Here's the crux of the matter – Limbaugh is probably the best known conservative in America today, and he's a ready target for Liberal elites such as Democratic politicos and Left-leaning media types who would like nothing better than to harpoon him. And, from the get-go, that's precisely why I thought that Limbaugh was at tremendous risk for prosecution, despite initial law enforcement statements that Limbaugh was "only a buyer" and of no interest to them. It's not surprising that Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer, a highly partisan Democrat, is pursuing Limbaugh with a vengeance. Clearly, Krischer couldn't nail Rush on drug possession charges since he was never caught with the illegally-purchased prescription drugs, and Krischer has been forced to pursue other avenues of prosecution. Or is that persecution?

When the State Attorney's Office failed to develop any traction on "money laundering" charges against Limbaugh, it then seized his medical files from four doctors and opened them up for review. It's a shame that basic privacy laws are not being upheld in this case. Krischer essentially plans to conduct a fishing expedition, which he believes will generate a "doctor shopping" indictment against Limbaugh. In any event, the Judge ordered prosecutors to re-seal Limbaugh's medical records for at least another week, while Roy Black appeals the Court's earlier decision permitting examination of these records for evidence.

At this point, it's not inconceivable that Limbaugh will take a plea and be required to participate in Florida's Drug Court program. On a positive note, the ongoing monitoring will actually facilitate Limbaugh's process of recovery.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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