Newsweek's Jonathan Alter Slams Limbaugh as 'Mullah Rush'

Jonathan Alter, Newsweek Senior Editor | NewsBusters.orgNewsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter grouped conservative talk radio with Islamic radicals, specifically singling out Rush Limbaugh for attack, on Friday’s MSNBC Live. While acknowledging that “everybody agrees it was premature” to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, Alter singled out the two groups that, in his view, were actually voicing criticism: “You’ve got the mullahs in the Taliban, and then you’ve got Mullah Rush” [audio clip from the segment available here].

Anchor Tamron Hall brought on the Newsweek senior editor and MSNBC news analyst minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour. Midway through the segment, Hall noted the “reaction from the world” and the “incredible pressure” that President Obama is facing concerning the war in Afghanistan. Alter replied that “it’s important to know that the award doesn’t go for pacifists....There have been plenty of examples of recipients who’ve been heads of state and...were war presidents. But...I also think it’s important to know who is actually sounding off against this. Everybody agrees it was premature, maybe undeserved. But who’s actually attacking it? Well, you’ve got the mullahs in the Taliban, and then you’ve got Mullah Rush [Limbaugh] -- you know, you have his, his [Obama’s] critics here at home” .

Earlier in the hour, Hall played a clip from Limbaugh’s radio show where he criticized President Obama: “Our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize- something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about, and that is, he doesn’t deserve the award. Now, that’s hilarious, that I’m on the same side of something with the Taliban. “

After dropping his insult, the Newsweek editor continued by giving the impression that practically everyone else in the world was being more reasonable about the award decision:

 

ALTER: You don’t see- you know, John McCain attacking it. He thinks it good for the United States. I think- you know, reasonable Republicans would agree that when a president of the United States is recognized with- probably the most prestigious award in the world, it’s not something to attack. And so you do have to look at- when you say there’s criticism, the people who have been criticizing it have been the Taliban, Hezbollah- all America’s enemies around the world- enemies in Iraq and adversaries here at home. Everyone else has been pretty supportive.

Actually, that’s not completely true. Michael Binyon of The Times of London, in a column titled, “Comment: absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize,” mocked the “obvious political and partisan intent” of the award: “It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.”

Hall herself brought up the criticism of former Polish president and Nobel Laureate Lech Walesa, who remarked that the award was “too fast- he hasn’t had the time to do anything yet.” Alter brushed that aside: “Yeah, he was surprised by it- understandably.”

Alter, like many leftists, seems to have a Limbaugh obsession. Just over a month ago, in late August 2009, he criticized Limbaugh as the “great blowhard of our time.” Back in March, the editor slammed the GOP as being the “party of Jell-O” for not standing up to the talk show host. But when MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann used the “mullah” label against Limbaugh a week after the President’s inauguration in January 2009, Alter distinguished the conservative from the Islamic leaders by taking a cue from Paul Begala- bringing up the talk show host’s past addiction to painkillers: “The mullahs don’t send their maid out into the parking lot to score drugs for them.”

The transcript from the relevant portion of Alter’s segment with Tamron Hall on Friday’s MSNBC Live:

TAMRON HALL: The reaction from around the world. The Taliban reacting to this, saying-

JONATHAN ALTER: Positive- mostly positive.

HALL: Mostly positive, but noting that there are still two war- wars going on right now- the President is meeting right now-

ALTER: Yeah.

HALL: One of the requests may be for 60,000 more troops-that’s on the- obvious extreme end of this, but you’re talking about a president having to decide to put more lives on the line for this war he did not start, but he certainly said it’s one of necessity. That’s got to be incredible pressure.

ALTER: Yeah- I mean, it’s important to know that the award doesn’t go for pacifists.

HALL: Right.

ALTER: It’s not for people who- you know, never get involved in- in conflict abroad. There have been plenty of examples of recipients who’ve been heads of state and were- were war presidents. But I- I also think it’s important to know who is actually sounding off against this. Everybody agrees it was premature- maybe undeserved. But who’s actually attacking it? Well, you’ve got the mullahs in the Taliban, and then you’ve got Mullah Rush [Limbaugh]- you know, you have his- his [Obama’s] critics here at home. Other than that, you don’t see- you know, John McCain attacking it.

HALL: Right.

ALTER: He thinks it good for the United States. I think- you know, reasonable Republicans would agree that when a president of the United States is recognized with- probably the most prestigious award in the world, it’s not something to attack.

HALL: Right.

ALTER: And so you do have to look at- when you say there’s criticism, the people who have been criticizing it have been the Taliban, Hezbollah- all America’s enemies around the world- enemies in Iraq and adversaries here at home. Everyone else has been pretty supportive.
                   
 HALL: Well- yeah, but the former president of Poland also criticized it. Lech Walesa of Solidarity-

ALTER: Yeah, he was surprised by it- understandably.

HALL: He was surprised and said it was too early. He said it was too early.

ALTER: Well, it was. I don’t think anybody has any doubt about that. I mean, it clearly was premature and maybe unmerited.

HALL: Yeah.

ALTER: But there’s a distinction between saying that and to actually- you know, attack.

HALL: Oh absolutely.

ALTER: Which is what- really, not very many people, other than the Taliban and talk radio and the Republican National Committee, are actually engaged in right now.

HALL: Point noted and taken- all right, Jonathan, thank you very much. It was a pleasure.

ALTER: Thanks a lot, Tamron.

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