I was once in a fly-on-the-wall position to monitor the behind-scenes workings of Rush Limbaugh’s then-budding radio talk show when it operated out of a rented corner studio some ten yards from my desk in the newsroom of WABC radio in New York.
A memorable moment, among many, came in 1993 and concerned the suicide of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s White House lawyer, Vince Foster.
Breathlessly citing a financial newsletter that had been faxed to his show moments earlier, Limbaugh broadcast, with no prior effort to verify details, this newsletter’s claim that Foster’s body had been moved from an apartment in Virginia to the suburban park where it was found. Limbaugh went on to add his own dramatic embellishment, claiming that “Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton.”
In fact, there was no credible evidence then and there remains none today that Foster’s death was anything but the depression-induced suicide that his family believes it to have been. Five investigations, including those by independent counsels Robert B. Fiske Jr. and Kenneth Starr, concluded that Foster suffered from severe depression that deprived him of sleep, made him unable to work, unable to think clearly, and finally to take his own life.
But the damage had been done. Immediately following Limbaugh’s broadcast, stock and bond prices tumbled with the Dow dropping nearly 23 points, and to this day, unfounded conspiracy theories persist about the nature of Foster’s death.