December 29, 2008

JUST A BUSINESS (via Brad S):

Late-Period Limbaugh (ZEV CHAFETS, 7/06/08, NY Times Magazine)

Limbaugh informed me that I was the first journalist ever to enter his home. Mary Matalin, the Republican consultant, calls the place “aspirational,” which is one adjective that fits. The place, largely designed by Limbaugh himself, reflects the things and places he has seen and admired. The massive chandelier in the dining room, for example, is a replica of the one that hung in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel in New York. The gleaming cherry-wood floors are dotted with hand-woven oriental carpets. A life-size oil portrait of El Rushbo, as he often calls himself on the air, hangs on the wall of the main staircase.

Unlike many right-wing talk-show hosts, Limbaugh does not view France with hostility. On the contrary, he is a Francophile. His salon, he told me, is meant to suggest Versailles. His main guest suite, which I did not personally inspect, was designed as an exact replica of the presidential suite of the George V Hotel in Paris.

Limbaugh is especially proud of his two-story library, which is a scaled-down version of the library at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Cherubs dance on the ceiling, leatherbound collections line the bookshelves and the wood-paneled walls were once “an acre of mahogany.”

A fastidious man, Limbaugh has a keen eye for domestic detail. His staff lights fragrant candles throughout the house to greet his arrival from work each day. Limbaugh led me into his private humidor, selected two La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel stogies for us to smoke and seated me at an onyx-and-marble table in the study. The room opens onto a patio, a putting green and a beach. On the table was a brochure for Limbaugh’s newest airplane, a Gulfstream G550. It cost him, he told me, $54 million.

Limbaugh can afford to live the way he wants. When we met he was on the verge of signing a new eight-year contract with his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks. He estimated that it would bring in about $38 million a year. To sweeten the deal, he said he was also getting a nine-figure signing bonus. (A representative from Premiere would not confirm the deal.) “Do you know what bought me all this?” he asked, waving his hand in the general direction of his prosperity. “Not my political ideas. Conservatism didn’t buy this house. First and foremost I’m a businessman. My first goal is to attract the largest possible audience so I can charge confiscatory ad rates. I happen to have great entertainment skills, but that enables me to sell airtime.”


The dirty little secret of Rush Limbaugh--the only people in their
cars when he's on the radio are middle-aged white salesmen.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 29, 2008 9:09 AM
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