Washington Post Hits 'Offensive' Limbaugh on Parkinson's, Fails to Critique Ad

The Washington Post took a good swing at Rush Limbaugh's comments yesterday about the exploitative Michael J. Fox TV ads for Democrats, saying Republicans are stopping "life-saving" cures for debilitating diseases. On the front page, top left, of Wednesday's Style section, David Montgomery began his article "Rush Limbaugh On the Offensive Against Ad With Michael J. Fox" very much like an editorial instead of a news article:

Possibly worse than making fun of someone's disability is saying that it's imaginary. That is not to mock someone's body, but to challenge a person's guts, integrity, sanity.

Time out. What is Michael J. Fox doing in these ads if not challenging Republican integrity? By suggesting the GOP are pro-disease? Montgomery makes no mention in his little, huffing post of an article as to whether Fox's claims are accurate, factually, scientifically. He can't go "back to the future" here and tell us if smashing embryos really works.Limbaugh did err in suggesting Fox's herky-jerky motions were an "act." He obviously suffers debilitating effects from Parkinson's Disease, and anyone who's seen one of Katie Couric's syrupy interviews with Fox would know that. But he apologized in the same show, which Montgomery notices -- inside the paper, in paragraph seven. (This way, hurried commuters in DC who only read the front page of Style can have precious uninformed outrage for the whole day.) He did that to introduce outraged quotes from the embryo-crushing disease lobbies. There is still the question of whether Fox decided to take his medication or not before filming these ads for Democrats. (Montgomery says the medication can enhance his involuntary movements.) Limbaugh was on to something, even if it's impolite to raise it: in creating a wrenching emotional ad for maximum political impact, was Fox trying to control his movement, or allowing it to flow for the cameras? Montgomery's article concluded with a defense of the difference between Fox's commercial and his controlled movements on a recent guest spot on the (liberal) ABC drama Boston Legal, the one where William Shatner plays a cartoonish conservative:

A source with direct knowledge of Fox's illness who viewed the Cardin ad said Fox is not acting to exaggerate the effects of the disease. The source said Fox's scenes in "Boston Legal" had to be taped around his illness, as he worked to control the tremors associated with Parkinson's for limited periods of time.

It's sad that the Post can't focus on the factual problems in the ad. In an age when reporters routinely pick apart ads for being untruthful or misleading, this ad should be scorned in the press for making claims that are not yet scientifically accurate. Claiming conservatives oppose “life-saving” stem-cell research is, at the moment, completely unsubstantiated. Life-saving? Right now, it’s in danger of looking like the embryo-destroyer’s version of WMD intelligence. For the latest on how the “promising” research is still leading to rodent brain tumors, see the WashPost’s latest (on page A-9, not A-1) here. Aside from the factual flaws, it has the sickening usual liberal flaw of leading with the Unmockable Victim, and thinking the facts don’t matter, especially with those emotional chicks. (Oh, the liberal consultant smirks are everywhere, no doubt.) But blaming Bush or Steele or Talent for Parkinson’s disease is akin to John Edwards claiming in October 2004 that Christopher Reeve would walk again “when John Kerry is president.” This ad is shameless, uncivil, unproven, and a very personal attack. Michael J. Fox is, after all this victimization politics, out as America's Sweetheart, and in with all the arrogant liberal partisans who think with a quasi-religious zeal that they are on the side of Science, against those backwards Religion folks. This is, in a political sense, Michael J. Fox's Tom-Cruise-Scientology moment. He is following the L. Ron. Hubbards of stem-cell science fiction.

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