On Tuesday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez read Rush Limbaugh’s denial that he ever made a quote attributed to him in which he praised antebellum slavery, but added that the denial “that does not take away...that there are other quotes...which many people in...minority communities do find offensive” [audio available here]. Sanchez broadcast the quote yesterday without any source, and made no retraction of it.
Sanchez first indicated during a promo for a segment about the Limbaugh controversy that the talk show host is “now setting us straight on a remark that’s been wildly publicized about what he has said in the past.” The segment came just before the bottom of the 3 pm Eastern hour, and after giving a brief synopsis of the controversy, read the dubious quote attributed to the conservative: “One of the quotes that has been attributed to Rush Limbaugh is the one about him saying that ‘slavery built the South, and I’m not saying that we should bring it back.. I’m just saying that it had it’s merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”
The CNN anchor then admitted that “among the news organizations that reported that [quote] yesterday was our show, at 3 o’clock” [see the NewsBusters post here on that segment]. He continued by reading Limbaugh’s formal denial: “Limbaugh’s response to this is- and we want to be fair to Rush- he says, ‘We’ve gone back. We have looked at everything else, and there is not even an inkling that any of the words in that quote are accurate. It is outrageous.’ So Rush Limbaugh is denying that that quote has come from him.”
Despite this denial, Sanchez continued by basically saying that this statement didn’t matter: “Obviously, that does not take away the fact that there are other quotes which have been attributed to Rush Limbaugh, which many people in the African-American community and many other minority communities do find offensive. Nonetheless, it is a major controversy, not only in sports, but it’s also entered the news arena.”
Earlier on Tuesday, MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell demanded that CNN, along with MSNBC, produce a source for the alleged quote: “CNN and MSNBC must immediately and publicly source when Limbaugh uttered this phrase. He has unequivocally denied it. Now it is up to the same news media that reported it as fact to prove that it was, indeed, stated....If they can’t, then they are 100% guilty of character assassination.”
After all, didn’t CNN fact-check a SNL skit? They can obviously make the effort to either find the source or issue a retraction.