CNN's Jim Acosta Misrepresents Limbaugh's Swastika/ObamaCare Logo Comparison

Jim Acosta, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgCNN’s Jim Acosta claimed that Rush Limbaugh’s website “compares the [ObamaCare] reform supporters to Nazis” during a report on Tuesday’s American Morning. The website actually draws a comparison between the DNC’s “Organizing for Health Care” logo and the Nazis’ Parteiadler (Party Eagle) symbol. Acosta also claimed that conservatives “falsely compared” ObamaCare to the Canadian health system.

Acosta filed his report from Portsmouth, New Hampshire where President Obama plans to hold a health care town hall meeting later in the day on Tuesday. He began by detailing how opponents to ObamaCare in the state “aren’t just sounding off at congressional town hall meetings...protesters descended on staff members of Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in the middle of a routine constituent’s services meeting. It wasn’t a town hall forum, and the senator wasn’t even there. The protesters recorded the confrontation and put it on YouTube.”

After playing a clip from his interview with the Democratic senator, where she claimed that “one constituent who was there wound up almost in tears, where our staff person had to be escorted out with a police escort,” the CNN correspondent made his claim about Limbaugh’s website: “Democrats charge the people shouting health care questions at members of Congress these days are being encouraged by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, whose website compares the reform supporters to Nazis.” As Acosta read this claim, a screen capture from Limbaugh’s website flashed on the screen, showing the health care logo of the DNC’s Organizing for America operation, superimposed with the Nazi Perteiadler symbol.

Graphic from RushLimbaugh.com, via CNN's American Morning | NewsBusters.orgAcosta’s claim is a misrepresentation of what the Limbaugh website actually says. The link that has the “Organizing for Health Care” logo/Parteiadler superimposition has a transcript of a segment from Limbaugh’s August 6 program. During this segment, the talk show host pointed out how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the anti-ObamaCare protesters of being “AstroTurf...carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town hall meeting on health care” (the page includes a YouTube video of the San Francisco Democrat’s remark). Limbaugh retorted in part by pointing out the peculiar similarities between the DNC health care logo and the Nazi symbol:

LIMBAUGH: ...[I]f you go and take a look at this, you will find that the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo.  I’m going to show you people watching on the Dittocam this, and there you are.  The middle frame is the Obama health care logo.  At the bottom is an official Nazi logo, eagle and everything, spread wings, or bird with spread wings.  Ms. Pelosi has some major apologizing to do.
The superimposition Acosta displayed is actually clipped from an animated graphic which tried to demonstrate the two symbols’ similarities.

Later in the segment, the CNN correspondent accused Corey Lewandowski of Americans for Prosperity of making an untrue accusation about ObamaCare:
ACOSTA (voice-over): Corey Lewandowski says it’s about facts not fear. But time and again, he falsely compared Democratic health care proposals to a Canadian-style universal system.

ACOSTA (on-camera): The ones coming out the House are not Canadian-style universal health care, and you know that.

LEWANDOWSKI: Universal health care in any way, shape, or form is a bad notion.
Acosta is wrong about the House health care proposals. The Hill newspaper on July 31 reported the Democratic Representative Henry Waxman “said House leaders have agreed to allow a floor vote on a government-run, single-payer system.” Canada’s government-run health care system is a single-payer system.

The full transcript of Acosta’s segment, which aired three minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Tuesday’s American Morning, and re-ran during the 11 am Eastern hour of CNN’s Newsroom program:

 JOHN ROBERTS: For the president, it’s a make or break month on health care. Americans bitterly divided on the issue are going grassroots, making signs, going to meetings, flooding the Web. So what kind of reception can President Obama expect today in Portsmouth, New Hampshire?

Our Jim Acosta is there this morning- he’s live. He’s already talking to people on both sides of the fight this morning. Now, Jim, we should point out that at least inside the hall, the president should operate in a more controlled environment than some of the town halls that we’ve seen. But it still leaves open the possibility of some interesting debate.

JIM ACOSTA: That’s right. You just never know who’s going to get inside one of these town hall meetings and fire off a question at the president, and he just might get a taste of those rowdy town hall meetings later today here in Portsmouth. The White House is expecting about 1,800 at this town hall event in Portsmouth. But there may be hundreds more gathered outside of the event, and asked if the president might be shouted down by one of these protesters, a White House official says Mr. Obama expects a, quote, ‘vigorous debate.’

ACOSTA (voice-over): Opponents of Democratic plans for health care reform aren’t just sounding off at congressional town hall meetings. In New Hampshire last week, protesters descended on staff members of Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in the middle of a routines constituent’s services meeting. It wasn’t a town hall forum, and the senator wasn’t even there. The protesters recorded the confrontation and put it on YouTube.

SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN: One constituent who was there wound up almost in tears, where our staff person had to be escorted out with a police escort.

ACOSTA (on-camera): And have you ever seen anything like this in all of your years of public service?

SHAHEEN: Never where people have been encouraged to be disrespectful.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Democrats charge the people shouting health care questions at members of Congress these days are being encouraged by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, whose website compares the reform supporters to Nazis. But Corey Lewandowski, with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that’s backing the protest, insists the anti-reform movement is real.

ACOSTA (on-camera): How do you respond to the charge that this is all orchestrated and artificial if it’s- if it’s all coming from talk show hosts and websites?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY, NEW HAMPSHIRE: I think if that were the case, then you wouldn’t see the massive turnout that you’ve seen in each and every event. I mean- you know, the average person is at work when Rush Limbaugh is on the radio.

ACOSTA (voice-over): As we were talking, almost out of nowhere, a bystander listening in our conversation came right up to us to say ditto.

LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you very much.

ACOSTA (on-camera): And you happen to agree with this gentleman?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Democrats are also flexing their grassroots. These former Obama volunteers were back in campaign mode.

EILEEN FLOCKHART, SUPPORTS OBAMA’S HEALTH CARE PLAN: I really think you’ve got some folks who are very anxious about change, who really love to play the fear card.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Corey Lewandowski says it’s about facts not fear. But time and again, he falsely compared Democratic health care proposals to a Canadian-style universal system.

ACOSTA (on-camera): The ones coming out the House are not Canadian-style universal health care, and you know that.

LEWANDOWSKI: Universal health care in any way, shape, or form is a bad notion.

ACOSTA (on-camera): White House- administration officials have set up a page on the White House website called the ‘reality check’ to counter some of these bogus claims, and as for Senator Jeanne Shaheen, she’s not even sure whether or not she’s going to hold her own town hall meeting in the state. But this event today, John, is not just geared towards people in New Hampshire. Just across the river from Portsmouth, as you know, John, is the state of Maine, where two key senators- Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins- will be key votes in this health care debate, John.

ROBERTS: And lots of protests planned for outside the venue there, as well, Jim.

ACOSTA: That’s right- yeah. There’s going to be a lot of people out there, and not just opponents- on both sides, those Obama supporters that you saw drawing up those signs in our piece- they plan to be out there, as well. They have spread the word through the Democratic Party/White House organizing machine. That has also gotten a lot of people fired up for this. So, you may see competing sides of this debate going at each other outside of this event later today, John.

ROBERTS: Powerful lobbies at work on both sides of this issue- Jim Acosta for us in Portsmouth- Jim, thanks.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center