Limbaugh: "I am trying to earn a profit"

The talk radio host tells NBC his main motivation is ratings, not ideology

By Mike Madden

Published October 12, 2009 6:13PM (EDT)

Breaking news: Rush Limbaugh is in it to make a buck.

In case anyone doubted it, the talk radio host told NBC's "Today Show" Monday morning that his main motivation in his on-air antics is ratings. "I want the largest audience I can get, because that's how I can charge the highest advertising rate," he said. "Which means what else do I want? Money. I am trying to earn a profit. It's capitalism."

This isn't exactly shocking; Limbaugh has been so over the top for so long that it's hard to imagine anyone thinks he buys all his own nonsense. But it does pose a bit of a problem for Republican lawmakers, who still quake at the power Limbaugh wields. (Just look at how Rep. Phil Gingrey, of Georgia, had to apologize after he asked Limbaugh to stop pressuring GOP officials earlier this year.) The guy calling many of the shots for the Republican base admits he's only after ratings, but elected officials have to fall in line immediately or risk a backlash from their most loyal followers? It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for people like Michael Steele. Not quite, but almost.

Naturally, Limbaugh also denied he has the power he seems to. "I am not the leader of the Republican Party," he said. "Don't want to be the leader of the Republican Party. It's silly for them to keep talking about me being the leader of anything, it's only creating more curiosity for me. 21 years, more popular than ever? Lord, thank you for my enemies."

Watch the clip here:

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Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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