Movie critic Roger Ebert thinks conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh should be horse-whipped for insulting Barack Obama.
"Having followed President Obama's suggestion and donated money to the Red Cross for relief in Haiti, I was offended to hear you suggest the President might be a thief capable of stealing money intended for the earthquake victims," wrote Ebert in an open letter to Limbaugh published at his Chicago Sun Times blog Thursday.
Drawing Ebert's ire was the following exchange between Limbaugh and a caller into Thursday's show (h/t Story Balloon):
Justin of Raleigh, North Carolina: "Why does Obama say if you want to donate some money, you could go to whitehouse.gov to direct you how to do so? If I wanted to donate to the Red Cross, why do I have to go to the White House page to donate?"
Limbaugh: "Exactly. Would you trust the money's gonna go to Haiti?"
Rush: "But would you trust that your name's gonna end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?"
For this, Ebert believes:
You should be horse-whipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation. [...]
Unlike you and Justin of Raleigh, I went to Obama's web site, and discovered the link there leads directly to the Red Cross. I can think of a reason why anyone might want to go via the White House. That way they can be absolutely sure they're clicking on the Red Cross and not a fake site set up to exploit the tragedy
Well, Roger, this might come as a shock to you, but the Red Cross DOES have a website.
As such, if folks want to contribute to the Red Cross, they can actually go to www. redcross.org. There, they can find a link that sends them directly to six different funds the RC has established for Haitian disaster relief.
In fact, this website is getting so much traffic, the donor is met with the following message:
Due to the overwhelming generosity of our supporters, we are experiencing a lag time in donation processing. Transactions may take up to 12 hours to process.
Regardless, that didn't stop the film critic from attacking Limbaugh:
But let me be sure I have this right. You and Justin agree that Obama might steal money intended for the Red Cross to help the wretched of Haiti.
Actually, Justin agreed with that. Limbaugh just asked the question.
What Limbaugh agreed to was that if you donated through the White House website, you would likely end up on a Democrat mailing list for donations in the future.
Even the shills at Media Matters -- who Ebert likely got this transcript from! -- agreed this was likely: "Yeah, ending up on a mailing list. Now that would be a disaster."
As for donating through a government website, Limbaugh stated Thursday:
I also said private donations are going to be much better than a government donation. They're all going, go to the Red Cross, do other things, don't go through the government. It's just going to go through hands and bureaucracies and a dollar is going to end up being 30 cents by the time they get through with it.
And this of course was Limbaugh's point: If you want to make a donation to disaster relief, why not give your money directly to the agency(ies) you trust without the government potentially acting as an intermediary and/or putting your name on a list for future political contributions?
For some reason, this logic eluded Ebert:
You are so cynical and heartless as to explain Obama's action in a way that unpleasantly suggests how your mind works.
You have a sizable listening audience. You apparently know how to please them. Anybody given a $400 million contract must know what he is doing.
That's what offends me. You know exactly what you're doing.
Yes, he does Roger.
After all, Ebert is in the business of critiquing films and those involved with them. Limbaugh is in the business of critiquing politics and those involved with it.
How would Ebert like it if Limbaugh advocated his horse-whipping all because he didn't agree with his review of "Avatar"?
In the end, Ebert's profession wouldn't exist without freedom of speech - a right similarly bestowed upon the object of his disaffection.
Maybe he should consider this before he advocates horse-whipping.