Zev Chafets' biography of Rush Limbaugh, An Army of One, makes one thing clear: Chafets received extensive cooperation from Limbaugh and from Limbaugh associates and employees.
Probably none of that input came from the employee referenced here. To explain: Back on Friday, June 13, 2003, after publishing a column in local DC newspapers titled "An open letter to Rush Limbaugh," I received this email from a reader, with the subject line "Rush Limbaugh":
I just thought you would like to know a little tidbit of gossip about the subject you are writing about. Every day that I listen to his show (not everyday who could take that?) I hear hatred spewed forth about anything and everthing that doesn't jibe with his ideaology. Calling Gephart "little dick" saying John Kerry "looks French" could be the dumbest thing I've ever heard. So I don't feel bad about outing him on this; Rush is a junkie.
[A former employee] worked for years [for Limbaugh and then-wife Marta Fitzgerald] and Rush made him sign a no-tell agreement before his departure. I didn't sign anything. Well Rush was doing over $2000.00 a week worth of oxycotin pain killers, which he "scored" illegally from a West Palm Beach dealer. Normally I wouldn't pass this kind of info around but you know what? Screw it and screw him and his hate. This is the truth Marge and I am not telling to print it or nothing, just letting you know."
As the date on this email should convey, Limbaugh was hardly chivvied by the authorities about his drug use. Not only was his Oxycontin abuse known among at the very least a widening circle of employees in Palm Beach, word was seeping to the news media. It is unlikely that I was the only journalist apprised.
Yet it was not until October, 2003, that Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was busted. As Chafets writes,
". . . the National Enquirer broke a sensational story: Rush Limbaugh, the voice of America, was a drug addict who might be headed for prison."
Wilma Cline, his housekeeper from 1997 to 2001, was supplying Limbaugh with hydrocodone.
"Over the years, Cline supplied Limbaugh with thousands of pills. This wasn't done pro bono, of course. Limbaugh paid both for the drugs and for her silence. But eventually the deal went sour, and in 2003 Cline went to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's office with documents and emails." (94)
Chafets writes clearly about the Oxycontin scandal--although sandwiching it in with Limbaugh's hearing loss, his move from New York City to Palm Beach, and his returning to air full-time after a cochlear implant. With the help of ample finances, celebrity defense attorney Roy Black, a stint in rehab, the commiseration and sympathy of the right-wing media machine, and his undeniable usefulness to the national GOP, Limbaugh was able to return not just to work but to an even more lucrative and full-throated career--a radio show picked up by hundreds of stations; two books published; his web site; and a monthly subscribers letter--aside from investments including real estate.
Chafets describes Limbaugh's Palm Beach estate in Lucullan terms (Ch. 6, "Limbaugh in Limbo"). As of this writing Limbaugh's lavish New York City apartment is up for sale for $13.95 million.
Still, Chafets begins his Acknowledgments with the following complaint:
"I have been in the book-writing business a long time, but I was amazed to discover that almost no New York publisher wanted a book about Rush Limbaugh tht didn't have the word "idiot" or "liar" in the title. A friend in the business explained it to me. "I have to go out for lunch in this city every day." Luckily I found an editor, Adrian Zackheim, who doesn't care about lunch . . ."
(Note: Dov Zackheim, PNAC signatory and ex-GWBush administration appointee, [is a relative of this editor.])
It is to Chafets' credit that the book does not omit the two flaming character issues of Rush Limbaugh's adult life aside from his assaults on the body politic--getting out of Vietnam, and getting into drugs. But a nebulous suggestion of entitlement, that for unspecified reasons someone like Limbaugh should be immune to the kind of criticism, let alone punishment, that other people would endure for certain behaviors, still seeps through.