In the wake of Rush Limbaugh being booted from a group of investors bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams football team, a minor media tempest has been stirred by conservative commentators who charge that Limbaugh has been falsely accused of making racist remarks.
Central to their charge are two quotes allegedly made by Limbaugh–in which the radio host supposedly praised slavery and Martin Luther King assassin James Earl Ray–that cannot be documented and may be bogus. Many of the commentators claim that the case against Limbaugh is based on little more than the two dubious quotes.
For instance, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly (10/15/09) claimed that besides one well-documented racist remark Limbaugh made in the 1970s, the case that Limbaugh says racist things is non-existent: “The reason that Limbaugh is not going to be able to buy into the NFL is because a bunch of made-up stuff became legend. And he got hammered.” O’Reilly added: “So what we have here are accusations without merit. But in our hypermedia age, that’s enough to paint someone as a racist.”
Limbaugh defenders, however, have to ignore many well-documented and easily checkable racist and race-baiting remarks made by the talkshow host over a long period of time.
**Arguing during the 2008 campaign that no one is permitted to criticize Barack Obama: “You can’t criticize the little black man-child. You just can’t do it, ’cause it’s just not right. It’s not fair. He’s such a victim.” (Radio, 8/20/08; audio available at Media Matters, 8/20/08)
** “We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president.” (Hannity, 1/21/09, archived on Nexis; video available at Media Matters, 1/22/09)
** Reacting to a report of black students assaulting a white student on a bus (an incident that police determined was not racially motivated), Limbaugh brought in Barack Obama: “In Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, ‘Right on, right on, right on.'” (Media Matters, 9/15/09)
** On learning from a caller to his show that St. Louis was extending a light rail system into East St. Louis–a community of some 40,000 residents, almost all of whom are black (radio, 6/27/94): “They got a light rail system to East St. Louis where nobody goes?”
** “Look it, let me put it to you this way. The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.” Limbaugh (10/14/09) admitted making this remark, but claimed it was a response to the actions of one player who was penalized for taunting an opponent. Limbaugh admitted that his language “makes it look racial, the way I chose to describe it. I could have perhaps chosen a different term.”
** Limbaugh praised former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond for calling a gay soldier “not normal”: “He’s not encumbered by being politically correct…. If you want to know what America used to be–and a lot of people wish it still were–then you listen to Strom Thurmond.” (TV show, 9/1/93, transcript archived on Nexis) In the America that “used to be,” Thurmond was one of the country’s leading racists, running for president in 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket, with a platform that opposed federal anti-lynching laws and boasted the slogan, “Segregation Forever!”
** In 1992, on his now-defunct TV show, Limbaugh expressed his ire when Spike Lee urged that black schoolchildren get off from school to see his film Malcolm X: “Spike, if you’re going to do that, let’s complete the education experience. You should tell them that they should loot the theater, and then blow it up on their way out.” (TV show, 10/29/92; transcript archived on Nexis)
** Limbaugh admitted to Newsday‘s Richard Gehr (10/8/90) that as a DJ in Pittsburgh in the 1970s he had once dismissed a black caller by saying, “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”
** “Have you ever noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?” (Newsday, 10/8/90)
** Discussing a Chicago inner-city schoolteacher punished for using a math question that focused on the price of prostitution and cocaine habits, Limbaugh suggested that the teacher should be credited for “understanding the culture these kids come from.” The math question began: “Rufus is pimping three girls.” (TV show, 5/24/94; transcript archived on Nexis)