On Wednesday’s edition of his eponymous program, MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir and his liberal panel continued their staunch defense of Bill Maher while ripping into Rush Limbaugh. MSNBC contributor and former Democratic National Committee communications chief Karen Finney gave her tortured defense of the media's double standard:
You know, he is a public person. Sandra Fluke is not a public person. Bill Maher is a public person. Sarah Palin is a public person. You could make the argument whether you like what Bill Maher says or not, when you are in the public arena, you do put yourself out there in a way that a private person asked to testify in Congress should not expect to be attacked. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
So Karen has contradicted herself, saying that Fluke is a random "private citizen" who just happened to be "asked to testify in Congress." In fact it was Democrat Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who discovered Fluke. His aides heard Fluke speaking at a televised press conference on February 9 at the National Press Club. Private citizens do not have the habit of participating in press conferences at the National Press Club. Secondly, if she was a ‘private citizen’ as Finney claims, it was the Democrats that selected her to "testify," making her a public figure. But even then, her participation was not legitimate congressional testimony, as it was an exchange with a Democratic steering committee, not a duly-constituted congressional panel.
Democratic strategist Julian Epstein chimed in, attempting to distort the Maher comments even further by arguing that:
Bill Maher is not the spiritual leader of the Democratic party as Rush Limbaugh is of the Republican party. Secondly, many Democrats have said that when Bill Maher has used some of the offensive words that he has crossed the line. Third of all, comparing what bill Maher's rift is on Sarah Palin is basically that she is an empty suit when it comes to public policy, and that I think is true and factually based.
Maher may not be the "spiritual leader" of the Democrats, but he makes no bones about his liberal and anti-conservative political sentiments both on his HBO program and when he appears on other televised outlets. What's more, Maher cut a $1-million check to Obama's Super PAC recently, money the Super PAC will not give back, by the way.
What's more, because Maher is a comedian, his comments are supposedly excusable, yet Rush Limbaugh, who on a daily basis makes comedic comments, is beyond the pale? How is that not a double standard?
Liberals have tried to transform Fluke from a seasoned political activist into an apolitical victim of conservative talk radio. To quote Ms. Finney, “we’re not that stupid.”
Below is the relevant transcript:
MARTIN BASHIR: Diversion, make believe, victim-hood and insults. And they think bill maher is a bad guy. Joining me now Karen Finney an MSNBC political analyst and former DNC Communications Director , Jonathan Capehart an MSNBC contributor and opinion writer for The Washington Post, and in Miami Democratic strategist Julian Epstein. Good day to all of you. Karen, just so that we can understand her argument, Ms. Palin says that Rush Limbaugh is a good guy because she was called a four-letter word by Bill Maher and the president pals around with terrorists and radicals, right?
KAREN FINNEY: Apparently that's her argument. But you know Martin, here’s what is so important. Couple of things. Number one. I'm hearing this from women this week and last week. Let's not get distracted. This is not just about a couple of words that Rush Limbaugh used about Sandra Fluke. It is about the whole picture that he painted of her as some kind of slut/whore/make a video of yourself having sex and put it on the web. I mean it was far more disgusting than just two words. Secondly, you know, he is a public person. Sandra Fluke is not a public person. Bill Maher is a public person. Sarah Palin is a public person. You could make the argument whether you like what Bill Maher says or not, when you are in the public arena, you do put yourself out there in a way that a private person asked to testify in Congress should not expect to be attacked.
BASHIR: That is correct. John, yesterday Fox News had this conspiracy involving the late Derrick Bell. He passed away just last October and he’s already now been raised from the dead by fox news and every aspect of his personal achievement working from difficult circumstances raising himself up to such a position of seniority is completely rubbished. And we're now supposed to refer to him as a radical, is that right?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Apparently so. But again we're talking about Derrick Bell and we’re talking about the victim-hood of Sarah Palin. We're talking about all of these other ancillary issues, if you want to call the Derrick Bell issue an issue. Because the main thing the Republicans have been running on since 2009 is the economy. And the economy is by all measures doing better and could be doing much better three, four months from now and certainly maybe at least the administration is hoping certainly by November. They have to do something, talk about something to gin up some kind of questions in the mind of voters before they go to the polls.
BASHIR: And so John, they scrape the bottom of the barrel?
CAPEHART: Of course. Of course, they do.
BASHIR: Julian, is anyone thinking clearly about what it means to rally around and protect someone like Rush Limbaugh? I mean is it really in Republicans’ interest to be known as an apologist for such an odious loathsome and tired sack of hatred.
JULIAN EPSTEIN: Yeah, and I think until the republican leadership expressly repudiates Rush Limbaugh, they have to stand for the grand old philistines. I mean look, let's understand why the analogy to Bill Maher doesn't make any sense and just falls down. Bill Maher is not the spiritual leader of the Democratic party as Rush Limbaugh is of the Republican party. Secondly, many Democrats have said that when Bill Maher has used some of the offensive words that he has crossed the line. Third of all, comparing what bill Maher's rift is on Sarah Palin is basically that she is an empty suit when it comes to public policy, and that I think is true and factually based, comparing that to a statement calling a woman a slut because she advocates for contraceptive coverage in the insurance policy is like comparing Bernie Madoff to a shoplifter. The analogy just breaks down on so many levels. The fundamental point here is that the Republican leadership is still yet to repudiate what has to be the number one most disgusting comment made in politics in 2012.
FINNEY: But guys, I've got to step up here for the women. It's not just about the comments. It's about this man saying if I'm going to pay for your sex, i want you to video tape it and put it on the web. It is more than just...women feel this very deeply. It's more than just those two words.
BASHIR: It was dressing up everything about this woman’s character in the most insulting manner.
EPSTEIN: Everybody agrees on that.
FINNEY: I just notice everybody keeps saying these two words.
CAPEHART: I didn't say anything about this.
BASHIR: That's true. But Karen, this conspiracy theory which is being proposed by several commentators that Sandra Fluke was planned and planted by the White House, I mean are they going to say the reason Rush Limbaugh had a massive pilonidal cyst on his backside some years ago is because he was infected by Democrats?
FINNEY: Oh yeah. Here is be problem Martin.
BASHIR: No. Answer the question. Is that cyst caused by Democrats?
BASHIR: Ok thank you.
FINNEY: Here is the thing. We’re not that smart. I wish we were. I would love to take credit. The problem Republicans are having. Women aren't that stupid. They were counting on women being really stupid. And you know what, we’re not. And it’s not just about...I mean this has really brought up a whole host of issues that have been going on for women in this war on women in the last couple of...last year in particular. It's about the measures that the state legislature that are basically telling women you're idiots and you're too stupid to make any decisions about your own body. So guess what, the government has to tell you when you've been raped. Has to make sure you're not so frivolous with your sexuality that you’re going to try to use rape as a loophole to get an abortion. I mean, just remember, this is layer upon layer upon layer. And then this kind of conversation coming from Rush Limbaugh. And also, I mean, Republicans know, to me this says we're winning this argument. They’re trying to change the suggest on two things that are not at all parallel. And this is supposed to be the party of smaller government yet they want to get all up in our uteruses. No, no, no. We’re not that stupid.
BASHIR: Ok Karen, I suggest we take a pause for a moment because that was a very powerful argument. We have much more. Jonathan and Julian stay with us if you can, we have much more to discuss.