USA Today Founder Al Neuharth: Limbaugh 'Idiotic,' Bloggers Full of 'Stupidity'

In a Q & A with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper published Monday, USA Today founder Al Neuharth described Rush Limbaugh's radio show as “one of the funniest programs on the air” and asserted: “I don't become offended by the idiotic things he says; I become amused by them.” Neuharth, however, conceded Limbaugh is entitled to his supposed idiocy: “I also think that from my perspective that it's OK for idiots like him to voice their opinion because that's what this country is about and that's what the First Amendment is about.” He also allowed that he has “become convinced, although a little reluctantly, that all the bloggers on the Internet have a right to all of their stupidity, too. And there's a lot of it.” (Screen shot from a 2004 Smithsonian event carried by C-SPAN, MRC CyberAlert article.)

Neuharth, who in 2002 once devoted his weekly USA Today column to how he needs to buy diapers for himself (MRC CyberAlert item), proclaimed in February of this year that George W. Bush is the worst ever President (NewsBusters post). In 2002, he denounced Bernard Goldberg’s book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News." Neuharth took a personal shot at Goldberg, accusing him of being “a second-rate newsman,” and insisted that “Goldberg's depiction of the three biggies as biased bad guys is fiction” since Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw were all “fair.” (MRC CyberAlert article)

Hat tip to Romenesko, who on Monday highlighted the Rochester newspaper item.

The relevant exchange in the June 18 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, a paper which, like USA Today, is owned by Gannett:
Q: We are...ripped by the right-wing conservative talk show hosts and others who just brand the mainstream media as worthless. Do we deserve that?...And what can we do about it?

A: Well, when I travel across the country, my amusement comes from Rush Limbaugh's show. I find that that's one of the funniest programs on the air. I don't become offended by the idiotic things he says; I become amused by them. But I also think that from my perspective that it's OK for idiots like him to voice their opinion because that's what this country is about and that's what the First Amendment is about. I might add that I have become convinced, although a little reluctantly, that all the bloggers on the Internet have a right to all of their stupidity, too. And there's a lot of it.

But I really think we're better off with those kinds of opinions and dissenting voices than we would be if we or the government tried to control them.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center