Supporters of Rush Limbaugh, including Fox commentator Juan Williams and Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association, have targeted two undocumented quotes attributed to Limbaugh to prove, in Rice's words, the "phony charge of racism" was used to deny Limbaugh's bid to become part owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams.
They point to a purported quote widely circulated on the Internet: "I mean, let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back, I'm just saying it had it merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."
The other supposed quote from Limbaugh: "You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the convicted killer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]."
So far, no Limbaugh critic has proven that these words were uttered by Limbaugh. In the meantime, Limbaugh and his backers have, shall we say, rushed to pounce on them.
Rice issued a statement charging, "One more nail was hammered deeply into America's freedom coffin when a group of private sector entrepreneurs were intimidated by race hustlers into ousting talk show host Rush Limbaugh from the consortium formed to buy the St. Louis Rams. He claimed "demonstrably false charges of racism" were used to derail Limbaugh.
Subbing for Bill O'Reilly on Fox, Juan Williams not only agreed that trumped up quotes were used to deny Limbaugh part-ownership of the Rams but that the Obama administration was behind the effort. The video clip from the Oct. 16 edition of Williams hosting The O'Reilly Factor is posted on media matters.org.
By placing so much emphasis on what might well be phony quotes, Juan Williams and Frances Rice hope to divert us from a long list of documented racist remarks made by Limbaugh.
On its site, media matters not only documents the following comments, but provides the relevant audio:
Responding to a news report that a majority of young Blacks feel alienated from the government, Limbaugh said on Feb. 1, 2007: "Why would that be? The government's been taking care of them their whole lives."
On Jan. 19, 2007 the talk show host said: "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 was forced to resign his job as a commentator on ESPN because of what he said about Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb. He said, without any proof, "…the media has been very desirous that a Black quarterback do well."
On June 4, Limbaugh said of President Obama, "He's angry; he's going to cut the country down to size. He's going to make it pay for all the multicultural mistakes that it has made – its mistreatment of minorities. I know exactly what's going on here."
Fairness and Accuracy in the Media (FAIR), another media monitoring group, provided the following documented quotes from Limbaugh:
Limbaugh admitted to Richard Gehr of Newsday [Oct. 8, 1990] that as a DJ in Pittsburgh during the 1970s, he told a Black caller, "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."
On his defunct TV show, he reacted to Spike Lee urging Black schoolchildren to take off from school to see his film Malcolm X. Limbaugh said on October 29, 1992: "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."
Reacting to a report of Black students assaulting a White student on a bus, Limbaugh said on Sept. 15: "In Obama's America, the White kids now get beat up with the Black kids cheering, 'Right on, right on, right on.'"
Newsday reported on Oct. 8, 1990 that Limbaugh said, "Have you noticed how all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"
Limbaugh praised Sen. Strom Thurmond, who ran for president in 1948 on a segregationist platform. On his TV show aired Sept. 1, 1993, Limbaugh said of Thurmond, "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'd listen to Strom Thurmond."
As is often the case, Limbaugh even sees "reverse racism" where none exists. During the 2006 Democratic primaries in Ohio, he commented on Paul Hackett's decision to withdraw from the contest for state senate against state Rep. Sherrod Brown. Limbaugh said, "And don't forget, Sherrod Brown is Black. There's a racial component here, too." What Limbaugh forgot – or did not know – was that Sherrod Brown is White. If there was a racial component, he made it up.
When it comes to racist statements by Rush Limbaugh, there's no need to make any up. They are all there in black and white.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com
You can also follow him at http://twitter.com/currygeorge