It is telling that Rush Limbaugh’s enemies — and they are enemies, not critics — always avail themselves of the same three weapons: fat jokes, addiction jokes, and lies. There was a predictable surfeit of the first two in the Democratic media’s recent campaign to prevent Rush from becoming part-owner of a professional football team, but the lies reached a level that is remarkable even by the standards of the corrupt and incompetent American media.
Specifically, a rash of manufactured quotes attributed to Limbaugh was forwarded to the usual media suspects — CNN, MSNBC — which then incorporated these falsehoods into their reporting without substantiation. Which is to say, they have done collectively what Dan Rather did individually: allow themselves to be duped by phony documents. These quotes included such absurdities as Rush’s praising slavery and the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. These are not quotes taken out of context; they are quotes manufactured out of whole cloth. To attribute them to Rush is to lie — viciously. With the notable exception of CNN’s Anderson Cooper, almost none of the major media figures who relied upon these fictions in their reporting have acknowledged that they are false. Confronted with evidence that the quotes are false, and challenged to produce audio or other documentation of them, media figures insisted that it was up to Rush to prove he had never said these things. There is a good reason Rush has built one of the largest audiences in broadcast by mocking the “drive-by media.”
The partisanship and dishonesty of the American media is a familiar story and a slightly pathetic one. What makes the ongoing assault on Rush disturbing is that the White House is a participant in it. As Time magazine and others have reported, a small group of Democratic operatives and media figures — Stanley Greenberg, Paul Begala, and James Carville — have colluded with members of the Obama administration — Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs — in a campaign to demonize Limbaugh, using him as a proxy target for congressional Republicans. There may be some precedent for a modern White House’s attempting to use the machinery of the presidency to destroy a critic in this fashion, but Barack Obama did not run as the Second Coming of Richard Nixon.
In the arena of football, Rush has been burned by such false accusations of racism before. His stint as an NFL commentator was abbreviated when he noted that there exists in professional football a racial stereotype holding that blacks make poor quarterbacks, and that certain sports writers wished to see the Philadelphia Eagles’ black quarterback, Donovan McNabb, succeed, for reasons racial and political. Rush was punished for speaking a truth so unexceptional and obvious that even the liberal web magazine Slate was forced to acknowledge: “Rush Limbaugh Was Right: Donovan McNabb isn’t a great quarterback, and the media do overrate him because he is black.”
Baseless accusations of racism are modern Democrats’ McCarthyism. And one cannot help but notice that other critics of the Obama administration, such as those who rallied against its health-care power grab over the summer, are being denounced by the same slavish media as racists. Rachel Maddow, who has been trafficking in false Limbaugh quotes for some time, is a particularly gross offender on that score. Rush is a rich and powerful man and quite able to take care of himself, but the dishonest attacks on him are the template for equally dishonest attacks on private citizens in less exalted positions, from Tea Party organizers to town-hall critics. If Rush can be ruthlessly libeled by the Democrats and the media, so can they.
Rush’s audience is full of fans who first tuned in expecting to be offended by the hateful, arrogant, screaming oaf of media caricature, only to discover that Rush, for all his puckishness, is in fact a serious man, funny and self-deprecating. He is also a man who spends 15 hours a week making the case for liberty and American exceptionalism — and the case against overweening liberalism — in one of America’s most important public forums. For that he will never be forgiven.