CNN, Donnie Deutsch Set Up Michael J. Fox to Trash Rush Limbaugh, Asks If He Wants to 'Just Go Smack the Guy'

On CNN’s Piers Morgan show Thursday night, CNN mysteriously brought in NBC personality Donnie Deutsch – or maybe it wasn’t mysterious because the guests were former NBC stars, Michael J. Fox and then Meredith Vieira.

But Deutsch and Fox went on a Limbaugh-bashing jaunt. Deutsch replayed the 2006 controversy – Fox’s liberal Democrat ad and Limbaugh’s mockery of Fox – and called Rush a “vicious bully.” Fox agreed, and laid into Limbaugh on the Sandra Fluke controversy, after Deutsch asked if he want to “just go smack the guy.” Fox also came to Bill Maher's defense and claimed he didn't have a "corporate-supported bully pulpit" like Rush:

MICHAEL J. FOX: to have people have an ethical problem with it is one thing. And that's great, and we'll have a discussion about that, and that's why I entered the fray, was to have a discussion about it. But to have it summarily knocked down and marginalized on the basis of personalities, on the base of he didn't like the way I delivered the message, and so his bullying instincts is to -- is to shut down and marginalize that voice, that's another thing altogether

DONNIE DEUTSCH: That's more than bully. That's a vicious bully. Let's just show his apology [text on screen], and of course he did, interestingly enough, we put that apology up, his current apology against Sandra Fluke. There's a Rasmussen poll today that came out less than 30 percent of people actually believe it.

You've always taken the high road with this and it draw our attention. You're a guy that got into a lot of fights as a kid. Don't you want to just go smack the guy on the most guttural -- I mean, it is so -- it's such a level of vulgarity there, almost equaled by calling the law student a slut. I mean you had to just -- it had to be something like -- you just want to go knock the guy.

MICHAEL J. FOX: See, I didn't feel that way. I honestly didn't feel that way. I felt like -- I felt like he'd done the damage to himself and I think a lot of argument, a lot of our conversation, he has attack on me, an attack on my symptoms, I -- it wasn't about me, I didn't really care. I had a bit of a problem with the image of it, because I thought it was offensive to my community and to my Parkinson's community and to a larger community of people with disabilities. It just was thoughtless and rude. But as far as me, I don't care. But he said I faked it. I didn't fake it. So he's impugning my honesty and my integrity and I -- coming from him, like that doesn't threaten me.

DEUTSCH: Yes.

FOX: But with the thing with Sandra Fluke, I'm a -- I'm a husband to a wife and a father to daughters, and a son to a mother and a brother to sisters. And that was really offensive.

DEUTSCH: He called our daughters sluts, basically.

FOX: He did.

DEUTSCH: He literally got on the air -- I have three daughters; you have daughters -- and literally called -- and the advertisers now are speaking, you know, another article in the "Times" say 50 advertisers, there's a lot of dead air on a lot of his stations. This is going to hurt him and basically advertisers that are staying are voting that it's OK to say what he said. So the jury’s still --

FOX: -- is that, you know, I can yell and scream and wave my arms ironically, or whatever about what he said. But let the free market decide, and all the things -- I love there to be voices out there that I don't agree with. I love for people to say vile, offensive things because then I know who they are. And as a voter, I know who they are, and as a consumer, I know who they are. And they've identified themselves, and that's great. And all things being equal, the market will balance that out.

Then bizarrely, without prompting, Fox came to the defense of Bill Maher, somehow claiming that HBO is not a "corporate-supported bully pulpit" for that atheist jerk. Remember that Deutsch just claimed Limbaugh had sunk to new lows of vulgarity, and they bizarrely claimed that calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" was an attack on everyone's daughters. (Where do they get that?) By this standard, Maher is much more vulgar, and if calling Fluke a "slut" defames every woman, what about Maher calling Palin a "dumb twat"? And a C-word? But liberals stick together:

FOX: You know, there's this talk about Bill Maher. The difference with Bill Maher, he's on HBO, and he didn't have advertisers. He was once in the public sector and made statements in that, because it bailed on him.

DEUTSCH: Yes, they have.

FOX: And he was relegated to cable. And so now I find it much less egregious in a way that the content of what he says, it may be offensive, but it's a different thing than this giant corporate- supported bully pulpit that this man has, and the way, again, he did the same thing with Sandra Fluke as he did with me, but as I said, it's more egregious I think with Sandra Fluke because he was -- Here's a private citizen expressing an opinion, which is her right to express, and it was sought out by people that we've elected to represent a point of view of the public. And she was knocked down brutally.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, it's interesting. You're a public figure, so as you said, you know, you can take it. When you bully down just the average citizen, that's where Don Imus got in trouble, and he's going to pay for this. This is just beginning, I really feel that.

Perhaps the dumbest liberal claim surrounding this interview came from the liberal blog Politicus USA, which claimed, "there is a difference between Maher being offensive on pay television, and corporate America funneling hundreds of millions of dollars per year into Rush Limbaugh’s public airwaves hate dissemination machine. People choose to subscribe to a pay channel in order to watch Maher, but Limbaugh’s public broadcast reaches millions of Americans whether they want to hear him or not."

Back in 2006, the liberal networks went into overdrive to support Fox (and by extension the election of Sen. Claire McCaskill) with big interviews and following him around on the campaign trail to give him even more air time and sympathy.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis