UPDATED: Networks That Skipped Bashir's Gross Attack on Palin Were Outraged By Limbaugh Fluke Joke

UPDATE: Bashir Resigns

When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks went ballistic, making the conservative talk show host a centerpiece in their campaign to tarnish Mitt Romney and the GOP as engaging in a “war on women.” However when MSNBC’s Martin Bashir launched his own war on women against Sarah Palin, not a single anchor or reporter from the Big Three said a word about his vile attack.

In the two weeks (February 29, 2012 - March 14, 2012) after Limbaugh made his crude Fluke joke, that he apologized for, the Big Three networks aired a total of 32 stories or interview segments that were full of calls for Limbaugh to apologize to the liberal activist Fluke, to get advertisers to abandon the show and demand that Republicans condemn the talk show host. NBC, who employs Bashir, aired the most Limbaugh stories with 14. ABC and CBS each aired 9 stories a piece. The number of Big Three network stories in the two weeks (November 15, 2013 - November 29, 2013) after Bashir suggested that Palin would be an “outstanding candidate”  for excretory punishments? Zero. The hypocrisy from the supposed civility cops in the liberal media is stunning.

 

Back in 2012 the same journalists who are now suspiciously silent about Bashir’s gross and hateful attack on the once-Vice Presidential candidate were apoplectic about Limbaugh. On March 5 ABC World News anchor Diane sawyer pronounced: “It was turbulent today as conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh tried to steer through the whirlwind he unleashed after calling a law school student speaking out about contraception, quote, a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute.’ One radio station canceled his show. More big sponsors withdrew. And, as Limbaugh apologized again, the Republican presidential candidates still tried to dodge having to make tough comments about the power broker.”



On the March 5 CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose pressed John McCain if he was “satisfied” that “Republican officials have gone far enough in condemning” Limbaugh. NBC invited Fluke on to the March 2 Today show for a Limbaugh-bashing exchange with co-host Matt Lauer:

MATT LAUER: You didn’t start this debate but you lent your voice to it as you spoke publically about this issue. Before I get to the specifics of what's happened in the last day or so, do you feel you've gotten more than you bargained for?

SANDRA FLUKE: Well, it’s – yeah. It's certainly been a good bit, yes.

LAUER: These comments that were made by Rush Limbaugh about you, certainly derogatory. What was your first reaction when you heard the comments?

FLUKE: Well, I think my reaction was the reaction that a lot of women have had when historically they've been called these types of names – and that really I think a lot of women across America have had to this – and that was initially to be – to be stunned by it, but then to quickly feel outraged and very upset that, again, on, you know, the first day of women's history month, on that day, a woman is being called these names in an attempt to silence me, to silence all of us from speaking about the health care that we need.

LAUER: He made the first comments about you a couple days ago. And when given an opportunity, I guess, to backtrack or apologize for them yesterday, instead he doubled down. Having said this, this is Rush Limbaugh, and this is what he does for a living. He makes comments, in my opinion, that he hopes will get more people to talk about him, more people to listen to his radio show or buy his books. This is kind of his business model. But having said that, are you surprised at what seems to be a deafening silence coming from the right in standing up for you?”

To date Palin has yet to be invited on the Today show or any of NBC’s programs to defend herself against Bashir, who still hasn’t been publicly reprimanded by MSNBC, from his abominable attack.

While Bashir did offer an on-air apology to Palin, no actual punishment has been announced. In the past, MSNBC suspended Ed Schultz for a week for metaphorically calling Laura Ingraham a “talk slut,” on his own radio show, not on MSNBC’s airwaves. The network suspended David Shuster until he quit for suggesting Hillary Clinton metaphorically “pimped out” her daughter Chelsea on the campaign trail. Years ago, mere political donations took Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann off the air. And most recently actor Alec Baldwin was fired for using anti-gay language, not on his MSNBC show, but in a personal dispute with a paparazzo.

The questions have to be asked: Why no mandatory time-off for Bashir and why no outrage from the Big Three networks?

 

UPDATE: On December 4 Bashir offered his resignation from MSNBC. In a statement the liberal host announced, “Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.”

 

For this report analysts reviewed the Big Three networks' evening (ABC's World News, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News) and morning show programs (ABC's Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, NBC's Today).

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.