Was Frum too biased to review book on Rush Limbaugh?
The Post wasn't looking for someone neutral when it chose David Frum to review a new book on conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh. And that has raised the question of whether Frum was too biased to be fair.
Frum, himself a well-known conservative commentator and speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote a controversial Newsweek cover story last year arguing that Limbaugh’s strident rhetoric was hurting the Republican Party.
“Rush Limbaugh is a seriously unpopular figure among the voters that conservatives and Republicans need to reach,” Frum wrote. “From a political point of view, Limbaugh is kryptonite, weakening the GOP nationally.”
That assertion sparked a nasty quarrel among conservatives that pitted Limbaugh and his followers against Frum.
Today’s Post Style section review of a newly released biography titled “Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One,” by Zev Chafets, was mostly even-handed. But near the end, Frum writes of Limbaugh: “It might seem ominous for an intellectual movement to be led by a man who does not think creatively, who does not respect the other side of the argument and who frequently says things that are not intended as truth.”
That was enough to lead Tim Graham of the conservative Newsbusters.com Web site to attack Frum and The Post for choosing a reviewer who was biased.
“The Washington Post knows how to thrust two middle fingers in Rush Limbaugh’s face,” Graham wrote. “They decided to put a book review of the new Zev Chavets book on Limbaugh on the front page of Tuesday’s Style section, reviewed by... David Frum, the Republican establishment’s leading Rush-hater.”
Post Book World Editor Rachel Shea said she was unaware that Frum had written last year’s critical Newsweek piece, which was headlined: “Why Rush is Wrong.” But she said she was aware of debate Frum had stirred over how the GOP could best position itself with voters. And she said The Post chose Frum precisely because “it’s no surprise where he was coming from.”
“There was no way we could find someone who didn’t have an opinion” about Limbaugh, she said. “In the absence of finding someone who is completely dispassionate, we decided to go with somebody who people know.”
But should Frum’s review have noted his past pointed criticism of Limbaugh, for those readers who were unaware? “I suppose we should have,” Shea said. “
I agree. Limbaugh is a fascinating figure to many readers, regardless of their ideological orientation. Not everyone is aware of the feuds within the conservative movement. In this case, transparency is important for those coming to the review without prior knowledge of the Frum-Limbaugh clash.
Frum’s Style section review said the book adds little to what already is known about Limbaugh. But while it is not an authorized biography, he noted that Chafets had been given extraordinary access to Limbaugh.
“Chafets exposes some disconnects between Limbaugh’s private life and public presence,” Frum wrote. “Chafets has seen more of the pundit’s personal world than any other journalist, and reveals some distinctly grandiose tastes in this self-imagined tribune of Middle America.”
“Limbaugh has skillfully conjured for his listeners a world in which they are disdained and despised by mysterious elites – a world in which Limbaugh’s $4,000 bottles of wine do not exclude him from the life of the common man.”
Graham criticized Frum’s review, saying it “mocks Rush as a faux populist.”
“There’s more hate than light” in the review, he said. “Frum gnashes his teeth hardest late in the review, jealous that he, the wise and humble Frum, is not acknowledged by all as the country’s leading conservative intellectual.”
On his own Web site, Frum responded to Graham’s criticism, which he said was “pretty harsh, as you would expect.”
“Hate, jealousy, etc. are strong words," he wrote. “My advice to Tim: stick to the facts, omit the mind-reading.”
| May 25, 2010; 4:07 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Post's corrections problem is being corrected
Next: Strasburg poster promotion angers Sunday subscribers
Posted by: hohandy | May 25, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fd09102 | May 25, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sodablue | May 25, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: bourassa1 | May 25, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kuvasz | May 25, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jrmitchell | May 25, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: zarzamora | May 25, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: nitpicker | May 25, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lexalexander1 | May 25, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RalfW | May 25, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | May 25, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: lewfournier1 | May 25, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ravensfan20008 | May 25, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jeffreed | May 26, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bikobiko | May 26, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: edwardallen54 | May 26, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dubuqueman | May 26, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: iamevilhomer | May 26, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gekkobear1 | May 26, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SWGal | May 26, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: StewartIII | May 26, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: alvint | May 28, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | May 31, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dcfilmindustryexaminer | May 31, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.