It was only a matter of time before Rush Limbaugh would discover Andy Revkin, global environmental reporter for the New York Times, and target him for that special, hysterical, rage-inflected treatment that is his trademark. And now it has happened, as the audio above, courtesy of Media Matters, shows in alarming fashion.
Here’s what El Rushbo spat into the Golden EIB microphone today:
“This guy from the New York Times, if he really thinks that humanity is destroying the panet, humanity is destroying the climate, that human beings in their natural existence are going to cause the extinction of life on Earth — Andrew Revkin. Mr. Revkin, why don’t you just go kill yourself and help the planet by dying?”
There can be no excuse for a vicious comment like this. And the fact that American media outlets tolerate this hate-mongering — and advertisers will pay Limbaugh for it — is astounding.
Nothing more really need be said. Limbaugh’s despicable comments are self-refuting.
But I feel compelled to say just a bit more: I’ve known Andy Revkin since 1981, or thereabouts. I’ve read much of what he has written over his career about environmental issues. (Full disclosure: I consider him to be not just a colleague, but also a friend.) And never once have I heard him express anything that bears even the remotest resemblance to Limbaugh’s characterization of his work. Anyone who has read Andy’s work over time knows that he is a careful, accurate and fair reporter who works hard to avoid being boxed in by the frames used by partisans to constrain public discussion about issues like climate change. While environmentalists often claim that global warming will “destroy the planet,” Andy would never write any such thing. (Do I need to say why not? Because it is so patently, absurdly untrue.)
Andy has been attacked before — from the left. Climate scientist Michael Tobis, for example, has called him “palpably evil,” evidently for not adhering to Tobis’s particular take on climate change issues. And as many readers of this blog well know, Andy has been a favorite target of climate activist Joe Romm. (Today Romm takes Limbaugh to task for remarks that are “far beyond the pale even for his brand of extremism.”) But however over the top it can sometimes become, at least Romm’s hyperventilating about Revkin’s reporting is reality-based. And however much I do not care for it, Romm’s style is within the norm for blogging.
Limbaugh’s vicious, shameful attack was, as Romm said, simply beyond the pale. It came in response to comments Andy had made via Skype to a symposium on media coverage of population and climate change. He raised a question, as a thought experiment, of whether parents could get carbon credits for “avoided kids.” In Andy’s DotEarth post today about Limbaugh’s comments and the hate mail they have spawned, he points out that explosive population growth in places like sub-Saharan Africa could be “blunted without a single draconian measure . . . simply by providing access to family planning for millions of women who already want it, but can’t get it — whether or not someone gets a carbon credit in the process.”
Andy’s point is debatable. But Limbaugh’s attack has nothing to do with debate and rationality. His approach, if not his message, has parallels to Father Charles Coughlin, the nasty, emotional, radical, Hitler-loving bigot of the 1930s who ranted about Franklin Roosevelt being a tool of international Jewish bankers.
Americans of good will, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, must speak out loudly against this latter-day Coughlin in our midst.