Bozell Column: The Censorious Sound on the Left

Rush Limbaugh was convicted of racism in a kangaroo court of "objective" media and dropped as a potential owner of the St. Louis Rams football franchise. His accusers claimed he once said slavery "had its merits" and that the assassin of Martin Luther King deserved a "Medal of Honor." The story circulated on the Internet and was eventually picked up by the major media, including both CNN and MSNBC.

But no one bothered fact-checking. In fact, his accusers and those media that repeated the accusations never stopped to ponder there was no need to fact-check this, so obvious were the fabrications.

Start with this reality: One could clearly dismiss these quotes as fabrications based on the simple fact that Rush would never have uttered them, since he doesn’t believe them. Period.

Add to it this second piece of common sense: Were Rush guilty of uttering this garbage back in 1998, would we really be discussing it for the first time in October of 2009? Common sense tells us that if he made these comments on his show, his advertisers would dump him so quickly he’d be out of a job by sundown.

Let’s give the media a break and conclude that when it comes to Rush Limbaugh, they just have no common sense. Fine. That’s where fact-checking comes in. A couple of minutes on the computer would have proven that these quotes were pure fantasy, put forward by radical leftists, with no substantiation whatsoever, purely to assassinate this man’s character, as is their wont.

But the Left – including many in the "news" media -- is so blinded by its hatred of Rush Limbaugh that it will accept any accusation as authentic, and the more salacious, the better.

Start with CNN. This network is so prideful of its professionalism that it fact-checks comedy skits on "Saturday Night Live." Clearly it needs to focus less on comedy shows on NBC and more on the "news" coming from its own anchors.

On Monday October 12, afternoon anchor Rick Sanchez showed his expertise at hit-and-run journalism by repeating the "slavery had its merits" quote as fact, with no effort whatsoever to authenticate it before moving on. When it was made clear that no authentication existed, and an apology was in order, instead Sanchez made matters worse. The following day again he read the offensive fabrication, but this time added Limbaugh’s denial, "to be fair to Rush," thus keeping alive the possibility that the accusation was truthful. On Friday, four days after they broadcast a falsehood, Sanchez finally delivered an apology.

MSNBC was even worse. They kept pushing the fake quotes even after it was apparent to everyone that they had not been substantiated. Their on-screen citation for the slavery quote was even sillier. It wasn’t a newspaper. It was a linebacker: "Cited by James Farrior, Pittsburgh Steelers." After sliming Limbaugh from Monday to Thursday, on Friday MSNBC’s David Shuster finally acknowledged they needed to "clarify" their sloppiness: "MSNBC attributed that quote to a football player who was opposed to Limbaugh’s NFL bid. However, we have been unable to verify that quote independently. So, just to clarify." No retraction, no apology.

Earth to MSNBC: the best time to verify your quotes is before you broadcast them across the nation for four days. But that would have hurt MSNBC’s pressure on the NFL to dump Rush. "Clarifications" can wait until the damage is done.

These cable networks were not alone. Newspapers from USA Today to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published these howlers from sports writers, and liberal talk-radio hosts put the lies in heavy rotation. Washington Post sportswriter Michael Wilbon spewed the phony slavery quote on his ESPN show "Pardon the Interruption." That show could now be called "Pardon the Fabrication."

Now match this war on Limbaugh with the White House’s war on Fox News, and what you see is a blatant campaign by the Left to "delegitimize" conservative talkers and alternative media outlets. Is there anything that sounds more hermetically sealed in a liberal bubble than claiming Fox News is not a "legitimate" news network because it reports information with a "perspective"? If there’s anything more bizarre in the last week than watching Al Sharpton attack anyone else for being "racially divisive," it’s watching David Axelrod complain to George Stephanopoulos that the news shouldn’t come with a partisan "perspective."

Team Obama’s idea of "straight news" is that which goes straight from Rahm Emanuel’s cellphone into Stephanopoulos’s mouth. Team Obama’s idea of news without "perspective" is Brian Williams broadcasting publicity stunts like Obama buying hamburgers for his staff and the "news" of the day is how many apples can be spotted at the White House.

The only thing in their way is the emerging alternative media, which is why they’re out to destroy Rush Limbaugh.

Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell
Brent Bozell is the Founder and President of the Media Research Center