MSNBC's David Shuster and liberal Professor Michael Eric Dyson on Monday took turns smearing Rush Limbaugh. Discussing conservative reaction to the passage of the health care bill, Shuster berated, "But, nobody on the right produced as much controversial venom this afternoon as Rush Limbaugh."
Shuster also linked the radio host to isolated outbursts over the weekend during protests in Washington. Talking to guest Michelle Bernard, he connected, "Is it possible, Michelle, to draw a link between Rush Limbaugh and when he talks, in a clip we didn't play, but how supporters should be wiped out?" He asserted, "That sort of venomous language and you create this picture- Rush Limbaugh creates this picture of fascism and Nazism on the march."
While Shuster added that the host's comments led to people "acting crazily" during protests, he didn't explain the context of Limbaugh's quote. On Monday's show, the host spoke in political terms: "We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out. We need to chase them out of town."
Liberal Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson slammed Limbaugh as a bigot: "What's not perplexing is his bigotry...This is a bigotaucracy [sic]. I think Rush Limbaugh is trying to foment a universe of bigotaucracy."
He asserted that the radio star's comments could lead to a culture of violence: "But, that kind of stuff has no place in American civil discourse. And that only foments the kind of dissent that leads to the most attacks on Mr. Obama, the most threats against him as any President." Shuster only added, "I agree."
Linking conservatives to the Confederacy, Dyson charged, "Many conservatives, acid, arch-right conservatives and Republicans, embrace a flag that is not America ultimately."
Have Shuster and Dyson not watched Keith Olbermann, MSNBC host? The vitriolic cable anchor has made all sorts of horrible claims about conservatives.
In January, he trashed Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown: "In Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees." What does that do for the public discourse?
A partial transcript of the March 22 News Live segment, which aired at 3:10pm EDT, follows:
DAVID SHUSTER: We've been talking a lot today about the reaction to what happened last night. And many conservatives today reacted harshly to the action in Congress. But, nobody on the right produced as much controversial venom this afternoon as Rush Limbaugh.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Every single Democrat who voted for this needs to know, safe district or not, they are going to be exposed and hassled and chased from office.
SHUSTER: Limbaugh then turned to the politics of race.
LIMBAUGH: Here's what he's going to say: "There are some people who don't like your skin color. Who don't think you should be American." He has come to divide. He has come to conquer. Is there anybody who now doubts what I meant when I said I hope he fails?
SHUSTER: We're joined by Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson. And also with us MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, who is President and CEO of the Independent Women's Forum. Professor Dyson, what goes through your mind when you hear that stuff?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I mean, if anybody is fomenting dissent, it is Rush Limbaugh, the politics of division, the cruel denial of the utter humanity of Mr. Obama. Those who disagree with him have the right to do so but to disparage his character and to assert these unfounded ideas and propositions about Mr. Obama is just dumbfounding to me. And I think beyond that it, doesn't do any good to help the conversation in this country between conservatives and liberals and progressives by people trying to make out of whole cloth assertions that cannot be empirically verified. There's nothing in Mr. Obama's language, demeanor or reaching out to the right to suggest he is in any way inclined to make this an empire of color or trying to derail what he sees as the benefit for all Americans of social policies that he puts into legislation.
SHUSTER: Is it possible, Michelle, to draw a link between Rush Limbaugh and when he talks in a clip we didn't play but how supporters should be wiped out? That sort of venomous language and you create this picture, Rush Limbaugh creates this picture of fascism and Nazism on the march. And you then start to have people going out of control acting crazily on Capitol Hill, yelling all kinds of racist things at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, yelling hateful things at Barney Frank, spitting on one member of Congress, can you draw that link?
MICHELLE BERNARD (MSNBC political analyst): There are people that will draw that link but I would, you know, venture to guess that Rush Limbaugh, the amount- the number of people that listen to Rush Limbaugh every day- not all of them are members of the groups that did the horrible things we saw happen over the weekend. I think that what he is saying, unfortunately, is what he is hearing from his listeners and there are people who believe that Barack Obama is here to divide and conquer, at least on racial terms. I don't believe that. Even you said this morning, earlier, when we were here, Barack Obama, when it comes to race is almost allergic to talking about it. We've seen him do that once or twice during his presidency. Several times during the campaign. But, I think I have to disagree with Rush Limbaugh when he says he is here to divide and conquer. The country is very much divided right now on political terms. The Republican Party is divided. The Democratic Party is divided. At one point in time I remember then-Senator Obama saying we are not a nation of red states and blue states. We are a nation of purple states. Well, for better or for worse, since his election we have definitely become a nation of red states and blue states. And we're going to see it in November. I believe that there are a lot of people, Democrats who are going to lose their seats in November. It doesn't have anything to do with race. It has a lot to do with the fact that this Congress has done nothing until health care yesterday, since 2008.
SHUSTER: But, I also have to wonder if it has to do with people being whipped up into such a frenzy and it's one thing to say divide and conquer and maybe that's, you know, okay. Maybe that's fine. But here's what else Rush Limbaugh said today in terms of describing the Obama crowd. Watch.
LIMBAUGH: They look at this country as one big criminal act. One big civil rights, human rights violation. Don't doubt me. That is how Obama has been raised to look at this country and he believes it.
SHUSTER: That's about as loaded-
DYSON: That's ignorant beyond belief. First of all you, can't even read his books to draw that kind of conclusion. He says in his books about the wide consideration for American values that was deeply implanted in him by his mother, by his grandparents. He was not raised in any traditional sense to have any kind of aspersions against white Americans, being half white himself. And beyond that, Rush Limbaugh speaking about this is one- Americans thinking this is one criminal act, especially African-Americans, black people have been the most patriotic americans in this nation. Going off to war to defend rights that they could not enjoy back home. The confederates of this country tried to secede from the nation. Many conservatives, acid, arch-right conservatives and Republicans, embrace a flag that is not America ultimately. We have died for this flag. We've raised it high. We have touted the virtues of America. James Baldwin, the author, said this: "I love America more than any nation on this earth. That's why I reserve the right to criticize her perpetually." We believe that love is investment in the critical opposition to platforms and parties and principles that we think are destructive. But we don't have to demonize each other. Michelle Bernard is obviously a brilliant woman. She has a position. I have a position. We don't have to demonize each other to disagree. And I think Mr. Limbaugh, again, is fomenting these things and I think the conservatives of good conscience should speak out against him to say that he doesn't represent America at its best.
DYSON: All Americans understand that we have an investment in this country and our investment must be protected. It doesn't mean we don't disagree, that we don't have dissent, that we don't express that articulately. But to resort to this kind of shenanigans, where Mr. Limbaugh is trying to foment racist- quite frankly- animus against Mr. Obama by unfounded opposition to him is just remarkable.
DYSON: What's not perplexing is his bigotry. And we have to- This is a bigotaucracy [sic]. I think Rush Limbaugh is trying to foment a universe of bigotaucracy. And I think we have to speak out on left and right to say, look, "We can disagree with each other. But that kind of stuff has no place in American civil discourse. And that only foments the kind of dissent that leads to the most attacks on Mr. Obama, the most threats against him as any president.
SHUSTER: I agree.
DYSON: And I think we need to be afraid for the future of our nation, not simply the health of Mr. Obama or health care.