Honoring Two Conservative Media Icons, William F. Buckley Jr. and Rush Limbaugh

March 30th, 2007 10:57 AM

Editor's note: The following post is adapted from a speech given by Brent Bozell at last night's MRC gala where Rush Limbaugh was awarded our first-ever William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence.

An awful lot has been said, and should be said, about this thing we call the New Media — that healthy, enlightening, inspiring, and simply refreshing Arctic blast of fresh air that has done so much to bring perspective, and simple common sense to the American public conversation.

In a very real sense, William F. Buckley Jr. started it all. His was the first television show dedicated to the proposition that the conservative position on the issues of the day mattered, and deserved a hearing, and for 33 years his ‘Firing Line’ delivered unlike any show of its kind, before or since.

Then there was National Review, the flagship publication of the movement founded 52 years ago, and which has delivered the intellectual sustenance for so many, including the man who went on to become the greatest president of the 20th century.

Where would the conservative movement be today without this alternative media? I shudder to think, which is why it is high time this movement recognize, formally, the extraordinary accomplishments of so many extraordinary people who day and night deliver our message to millions.

Thus, the Media Research Center has created the annual William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence, which we presented at our 20th anniversary gala in Washington, D.C. last night.

Bill Buckley would tell us that while so many could and should — and ultimately will — be recognized in the years to come, only one individual absolutely must be the recipient of this inaugural award, and that’s Rush Limbaugh.

So much can be said of our honoree, but one statement puts it all in context: He launched a nationally syndicated radio show on August 1, 1988, and along with it, a revolution.

In no time his empire would grow from 56 stations to over 600, reaching 20 million listeners weekly. Nineteen years later, there are dozens of other talented nationally syndicated talk show hosts, and hundreds more on the local scene, yet our honoree is still the #1 reigning talk show host in the land.

Why? Perhaps it is that no one in America has sharper analytical skills. Maybe it is that profound confidence in the surety of his convictions. Maybe it's his unwavering optimism, and God knows we've needed his optimism. Maybe it's his deadly sense of humor: How many times have we all burst out laughing listening to his show?

As Rush became a force to be reckoned with, all across America you could hear the muffled thud, thudding as millions of liberals collectively swooned in dismay at the thought of the existence of this monster.

But that sound was drowned out by the millions and millions and millions more conservatives who were pumping their fists in the air, wildly cheering. And they're still cheering him today.

What an honor it is to recognize this man’s achievements, and to present to him the inaugural William F. Buckley Jr Award for Media Excellence.