NBC’s Gregory Frets Romney Missed ‘Sister Souljah Moment’ to Denounce Limbaugh; Noonan Blasts Limbaugh as ‘Piggish’

No love on the Sunday morning television talk shows for Rush Limbaugh, not even a mild defense as the unifying theme was disappointment in Mitt Romney for not denouncing the leading national conservative talk radio host. “The problem with Rush Limbaugh,” NBC News White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie complained in pretending to care about the fate of Republicans, “is that he re-framed the debate on Democrat’s terms” and “Romney lost an opportunity there to speak out forcefully against” Limbaugh which “would have shown some political courage, some backbone and ultimately,” she argued, “that would help him with conservatives.”

Meet the Press host David Gregory jumped in to assert “Sister Souljah’s not just a rap reference, it’s a political reference.” He cued up Republican strategist/Romney backer Mike Murphy: “Was this a ‘Sister Souljah Moment’ that Romney missed?” Murphy, naturally, agreed as he added in a snarky shot at Limbaugh: “It could have been and it should have been. The big myth about Rush Limbaugh is he can’t deliver a pizza let alone a vote.”

Murphy, however, also pointed out the media’s double standard, alluding, without naming him, to Bill Maher: “There are folks on the left throwing the same kind of language around, even giving a million dollars to Democratic – I don’t hear about them. That said, this was an opportunity for Mitt to push back...”
 

Audio: MP3 clip

Limbaugh didn’t have any defenders either on ABC’s This Week, not even amongst the conservatives, where Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan declared: “What Rush Limbaugh said was crude, rude, even piggish.” She lamented that “what he said was also destructive. It confused the issue, it played into this trope that the Republicans have a war on women. No, they don’t, but he made it look they that way. It confused the larger issue which is the real issue, which is ObamaCare and its incursions against religious freedom....”

Matthew Dowd, the former George W. Bush operative, denigrated Limbaugh, arguing Romney and other top Republicans “think Rush Limbaugh’s a buffoon. They don’t think he’s helpful in this marketplace. They think he’s like a clown coming out of a small car in the circus.”

Also during the roundtable, Democratic operative/CNN commentator Donna Brazille, however, recognized liberals and Democrats are hardly pure: “We have pigs on the Democratic side. Some of us don’t want to say it, we have male pigs....We know the culture is sexist, misogynist.”

Of course, Limbaugh’s comment only deflected attention from Obama’s antagonism to religious liberty because the news media eagerly pounced to push liberals efforts to make Limbaugh the issue.

From the Sunday, March 4 Meet the Press on NBC:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Obviously both parties think they’ve got a winner here. The problem with Rush Limbaugh, beyond the obvious in terms of what he said, is that he re-framed the debate on Democrat’s terms. Republicans were trying to say here we have, at last, an example of how the health care law reaches in and intrudes on religious liberty. And Rush Limbaugh takes that moment and decides to make it personal, vitriolic and use these words that anyone would find offensive. You ask Speaker Gingrich about this, you ask some of the people on the panel, I think potentially, Romney lost an opportunity there to speak out forcefully against Rush Limbaugh. This was not a gray area. Look no further than the fact that even Rush Limbaugh apologized for it.

I think they probably thought, you know, why antagonize social conservatives who listen to Limbaugh. On the other hand, it would have shown some political courage, some backbone and ultimately I think that would help him with conservatives.

DAVID GREGORY: Sister Souljah’s not just a rap reference, it’s a political reference, Mike Murphy, was this a Sister Souljah moment that Romney missed?

MIKE MURPHY: In my view, it could have been and it should have been. The big myth about Rush Limbaugh is he can’t deliver a pizza let alone a vote. A lot of noise. Now, there’s a double standard. The media covers him like he’s the king of the Republican Party. There are folks on the left throwing the same kind of language around, even giving a million dollars to Democratic – I don’t hear about them. That said, this was an opportunity for Mitt to push back. Even Santorum, who said it was absurd, was a click or two tougher on him than Mitt was. And I thought it was a lost opportunity for his campaign....

From ABC’s This Week with George Stephanapoulos:

GEORGE WILL: It is the responsibility of conservatives to police the right of its excesses just as liberals unfailingly fail to police the excesses on their own side. And it was depressing, because what it indicates is, the Republican leaders are afraid of Rush Limbaugh. They want to bomb Iran, but they're afraid of Rush Limbaugh.

PEGGY NOONAN: Look, what Rush Limbaugh said was crude, rude, even piggish. It was just unacceptable, he ought to be called on it. I am glad that he's apologized. I guess there will be a debate now about the nature of the apology, but what he said was also destructive. It confused the issue, it played into this trope that the Republicans have a war on women, no, they don't, but he made it look they that way. It confused the larger issue which is the real issue, which is ObamaCare and its incursions against religious freedom, which is a serious issue. It was not about this young lady at Georgetown. So what he said was deeply destructive and unhelpful and he ought to be called on it.

...

MATTHEW DOWD: Anybody should have come out with courage of their convictions and told Rush Limbaugh he was totally wrong to do this. I think there is myth around Rush Limbaugh, the idea that he influences a large number of Republican voters is a complete myth. Keep in mind, Rush Limbaugh attacked Newt Gingrich before the South Carolina primary and Newt Gingrich won South Carolina and then Rush Limbaugh attacked Mitt Romney before Florida primary and Mitt Romney wins Florida.

I think the problem is the Republicans leaders – Mitt Romney and the other candidates – don't have the courage to say what they say in quiet, which they think Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon, they think Rush Limbaugh’s a buffoon. They don't think he's helpful in this marketplace. They think he’s like a clown coming out of a small car in the circus. It’s great, it’s entertaining, it’s all that. But nobody takes him seriously. If I were Mitt Romney, I would stand up and say, we need to change the political discourse in this country. Whatever words we use on the left or the right we need to change the political discourse.

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