Analysis

Rush Limbaugh vs. Fox News: A Gingrich schism?

The talk radio star trashes the conservative press for piling on Newt. Is the right-wing message machine breaking down?

Newt Gingrich's surge to the top of the GOP presidential polls is causing some giants of conservative opinion-making to turn on each other. On his radio show this week, talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh railed against the apparently "coordinated" attacks on Gingrich from the "Republican establishment conservative media," which Rush defined as everyone but "me, talk radio, the Tea Party, and the American people who are conservative." What should we make of the apparent rift between Limbaugh and conservative-leaning organizations like the occasionally "Newt-bashing" Fox News?

Rush's "heretic hunting" has reached a new low: Limbaugh didn't name many names, says Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. But it's pretty clear that Rush has drummed Fox News, National Review, and "every other right-leaning magazine, website, and newspaper" out of the conservative movement. Their apostasy? Sometimes criticizing the questionably conservative Newt. It appears that "Gingrich and Limbaugh have now bonded over their unseemly, egomaniacal delusions of grandeur.""Limbaugh declares Fox News and National Review to be un-conservative"

Actually, Rush's attacks are largely about Romney: Limbaugh's "impassioned defense of Gingrich's ideological credentials" has provided Newt "invaluable cover" on the Right, says Steve Kornacki at Salon. But Rush is far more interested in slamming conservative opinion-makers who have embraced Mitt Romney than attacking right-wingers who are recoiling over Gingrich. Sinking the shape-shifting Romney has become "a test of Limbaugh's clout." Rush is boosting Newt because if the former House speaker doesn't topple Romney, Limbaugh will look foolish."The origins of Rush's Newt crush"

Maybe Newt doesn't need the conservative media: Newt's relationship with the right-wing press is "complicated," say Sam Stein and Michael Calderone at The Huffington Post. Many "of the Right's more influential writers and pundits have dug through Gingrich's decades worth of political baggage in making their case that he shouldn't be the Republican nominee." Indeed, Newt's ascension in the polls wasn't exactly thanks to Fox and Co. "He's done it all with a conservative press corps that's either torn or bearish about his prospects." Maybe Fox, Limbaugh, and the rest of the conservative media aren't as influential as people think."Newt Gingrich and the conservative press: A complicated relationship"

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