Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter: Rush Limbaugh Is the ‘Great Blowhard of Our Time’

Newsweek columnist and editor Jonathan Alter appeared on Friday’s Hardball and slammed Rush Limbaugh as the "great blowhard of our time." Host Chris Matthews prompted the quote when he discussed how Limbaugh had criticized him on his radio show for calling Barack Obama the "last brother" of the Kennedy clan. Referring to Ted Kennedy's death, Matthews snarled, "What is the matter with these people? Can't they take a week off, Jonathan? Just take a week off. It's a funeral."

Responding to the Hardball anchor’s complaint, Alter attacked, "If Ted Kennedy is one of the great senators of our time, Rush Limbaugh takes the crown as the great blowhard of our time." The Newsweek editor derided, "There's nobody who would have criticized Rush Limbaugh if he had talked about a brother because there's so many other things to criticize him for, other outrageous things that he says almost every day on the radio."

On August 26, the MRC’s Tim Graham blogged about the original Matthews quote, which occurred on Wednesday’s Today show:

MSNBC host Chris Matthews appeared three times on Wednesday’s Today show to lionize Sen. Ted Kennedy, and twice he promoted Barack Obama as the "last brother" of the Kennedy political tradition. He tried to clarify a little in his appearance in the 10 am hour: "I don’t mean that in an ethnic sense or a black sense. I mean a brother of the Kennedy tradition. And I think he’s the new brother, not that last brother."

Rush Limbaugh joked on Wednesday that he wouldn’t be allowed by the media to use the word "brother" to describe Obama. Matthews suggested Kennedy "took a while to grow up," but portrayed him as the great brother who ran for president not out of power lust, but to bring back the Jack-and-Bobby aura.

A transcript of the Hardball exchange, which aired at 5:35pm EDT on August 28, follows:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: The other day, Rush Limbaugh, in his inimitable fashion, said that I had done something he would have got in trouble for. Please explain. I need a Biblical exegesis for this. I said that last year Ted Kennedy passed the torch of the Kennedy brotherhood to Barack Obama, making him the next Kennedy, and it was so clear to everybody that's what was going on, in fact, we put it in the documentary. He said if he has said something like that he would have been accused of making an ethnic slur, because I used the word brother. Even though, in terms of brotherhood, I point out, I’m not using this- I said it at the time, not in an ethnic sense, not in any racial sense, brother in the sense of sibling brother, actual brother. And he jumped up and made himself into a victim again. What is the matter with these people? Can't they take a week off, Jonathan? Just take a week off. It's a funeral. Take a week off from politics.

JONATHAN ALTER: He’s one of the- If Ted Kennedy is one of the great senators of our time, Rush Limbaugh takes the crown as the great blowhard of our time. There's nobody who would have criticized Rush Limbaugh if he had talked about a brother because there's so many other things to criticize him for, other outrageous things that he says almost every day on the radio. So he's just blowing smoke.

MATTHEWS: I think it's an attempt at victimhood.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org