Having it both ways

Surprised that El Rushbo apologized but he has. What jumped out to me:

“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” Limbaugh says in the statement. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

Emphasis mine. If you listen to his segment on Ms. Fluke, it’s really pretty hard to pretend that he was trying to be funny. But David Foster Wallace, in one of my favorite pieces of writing, had this dynamic pegged years ago:

Be advised that the intro’s stilted, term-paperish language, which looks kind of awful in print, is a great deal more effective when the spiel is delivered out loud—the stiffness gives it a slight air of self-mockery that keeps you from being totally sure just how seriously John Ziegler takes what he’s saying. Meaning he gets to have it both ways. This half-pretend pretension, which is ingenious in all sorts of ways, was pioneered in talk radio by Rush Limbaugh, although with Limbaugh the semi—self-mockery is more tonal than syntactic.

Emphasis mine again. That’s from the aside you access by clicking ‘apocalyptic glee.’ That essay remains a brilliant look at talk radio. At some point, I’ll get around to excerpting and blogging some of the other ever-relevant parts of Host.

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