Bozell Column: Roseanne vs. Rush

May 6th, 2008 6:02 PM

Air America Radio may have tried and failed to use washed-up comedians like Janeane Garofalo and Al Franken to make liberal talk radio work, but their rule seems to be that if first you don't succeed, flop, flop again. When wacky radical Randi Rhodes resigned over a nasty and profane denunciation of Hillary Clinton, Air America replaced her in afternoon drive time with... Roseanne Barr.

And in no time flat Roseanne behaved like Roseanne. On April 28 she suggested leftists should ignite riots at the Democratic convention in Denver. "We should, a bunch of us, go there and repeat the Democratic Convention from Chicago. Like, let's just cause a bunch of trouble!" There's even a leftist group called "Recreate 68" building up the rioting nostalgia.

"Recreate 68" is no joke. It is trying to draw a raucous crowd: "Join us in the streets of Denver as we resist a two-party system that allows imperialism and racism to continue unrestrained." These troublemakers live to get arrested.

Is it newsworthy that "Recreate 68" is talking about real violence at a national political convention? The Fox News Channel thinks so. The local media in Denver have covered this as well. But CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC? Not a peep. Nothing in Time, Newsweek, US News, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today. The New York Times had a mention, at the bottom of an article. "Recreate 68" is a concept they just don't want to acknowledge. None of these outlets noticed Roseanne’s comments, either.

But what happens when a conservative talk show host talks about -- comments on -- this same subject, and does so not seriously, but humorously? On April 23 Rush Limbaugh declared that protesters making a scene in Denver would wake up America to see how the Democrats are dominated by the far left. He said, "Now, I am not inspiring or inciting riots. I'm dreaming. (singing to the tune of 'White Christmas') 'I'm dreaming of riots in Denver.' Remember 1968? And which party did that? It was the radicals in that party, the anti-war radicals, the same bunch of clowns that are running around defining the Democrat Party today."

What happens is that in some quarters, all hell breaks loose. The local media in Denver quickly declared that Rush Limbaugh was rooting for violence, although some outlets like the Denver Post put the whole statement in its proper context, that Rush clearly said he wasn't inciting riots. Local TV stations took polls to underline the outrage. Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado sent an angry letter to Clear Channel radio (which airs the Limbaugh show in Denver) asking for them to "reprimand" Limbaugh for talking up violence.

Are these people serious? Conservatives in Limbaugh's huge audience surely laughed at the giddy singing over the thought of Democratic self-immolation at the polls. Would any of them seriously make plans to spend a week of vacation in Denver throwing bricks through storefront windows or breathing tear gas deeply? Voting for Hillary in the primaries through Operation Chaos is about as naughty as they are willing to be.

Are some leftists so hopelessly naive as to believe Limbaugh's listeners are being prepared to burn down buildings and trade blows with the cops? Believe it or not, the answer is in the affirmative.

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann predictably piled on Rush. Olbermann asked: "Could Limbaugh be prosecuted for incitement to riot?" Always the amateur historian, he wondered if Limbaugh was a descendant of the anarchists who encouraged the Haymarket bombing in Chicago in 1886, and who were hanged as murderers by proxy. We've "come a long way" legally since then, Olbermann declared, perhaps with a bit of mourning, but still, "do you think that Limbaugh has any idea that were he to repeat what he said on the air, say the day before the convention, or during it, he might actually be morally or legally responsible for incitement to riot?"

What phonies these "outraged" media partisans are. Olbermann & Co. utterly ignore Roseanne Barr earnestly calling for a radical rerun of "trouble" on Air America Radio, whose audience naturally matches the radicalism of the "Recreate 68" goon squads. But Rush's dittoheads? Run for your lives!

Maybe Rush should be prosecuted after all. Is any American entitled to have this much fun at liberals' expense during a campaign season? Surely there is something in McCain-Feingold, or maybe in the Americans With Disabilities Act to address this abuse.