Having failed to prevent Rush Limbaugh from becoming a successful and wealthy entertainer, the mainstream media has apparently decided that they will attempt the next best thing; attempt to keep Rush Limbaugh from spending his money in the way he desires. In this case, Rush apparently desires to spend his money on a portion of the controlling stock in the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. In the initial stages of this story, the media attempted to thwart Limbaugh’s plans by trumpeting his comments from several years ago to the effect that the media was overrating Donovan McNabb as a quarterback because they were desirous of seeing a black quarterback succeed. One assumes that the media has at long last realized the self-evident truth that Limbaugh’s comments about McNabb could not be construed as racist by anyone not determined to find racism in any sentence containing the word “black.” Therefore, they have set about with phase two of this story, attacking Limbaugh as racist with completely fabricated and unsourced quotes… from Wiki.
I first became aware of this latest brouhaha when I opened FoxSports.com this morning as I typically do to check and see if anything interesting happened in the previous evening of sports. I was greeted with a huge front-page box featuring this insipid column from the execrable Jason Whitlock. By way of reminder, Jason Whitlock recently wrote this ridiculous column, which somehow passes for insightful commentary while Limbaugh’s comments about McNabb are evil, thoughtless, and racist. But I digress. The newest basis for the assertion that Limbaugh is an eeeeeevil racist is as follows, according to Whitlock:
Here are two quotes attributed to Limbaugh in a 2006 book, “101 People Who Are Really Screwing America,” by Jack Huberman.
- “You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray (Dr. King’s assassin). We miss you, James. Godspeed.”
- “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 its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”
The first of these quotes has already been debunked most thoroughly, long before Rush’s bid to buy the Rams became public news. It is self-evidently the complete fabrication of someone with a wiki account, which was then picked up by the unscrupulous Huberman and reported as fact (with no citations at all) in his book. The other, also attributed to Huberman, has never been sourced, and Huberman has never cited any original article, or even given any indication as to when this alleged statement was made. Of course, these facts make it utterly impossible to refute the claim; without any date or context, Rush cannot even call witnesses who were present during the alleged confirmation to confirm or deny that he ever made such a statement. It is literally impossible for Limbaugh (or anyone else) to offer convincing proof that they have never at any time made a given statement (other than their own denial, which Rush has already given). It is preposterous to ask anyone to prove that they did not make a statement if you cannot even so much as offer a time and place where the statement is alleged to have occurred.
And yet, this is the position in which Limbaugh finds himself. And worse, idiots like Whitlock seem to think that it’s entirely appropriate to believe this completely unsourced accusation:
Limbaugh claimed on his radio show Monday that his staff could not find any proof that he ever joked about slavery. I’m sorry. Limbaugh doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt on racial matters.
See? In Jason Whitlock’s world, anyone at any time can claim that some unidentified person told them that Rush Limbaugh said [X], at a time and place they can’t identify, and if it touches on anything racial, it is fair to assume that Rush really said it because he doesn’t get “the benefit of the doubt.” This isn’t about the “benefit of the doubt,” it’s about whether the accusation is serious enough to create any doubt at all in the first place.
I wonder if Jason Whitlock would be amused to discover the same standard applied to him. After all, I have access to a widely-read website as well. You know how easy it would be for me to say, on the front page of this website, that “Jason Whitlock raped a woman”? Then do you know how easy it would be for some jerk with a vendetta against Whitlock to put that in his Wiki article and credit me as the source? Oh, well, I suppose the rumor is out there now. If Whitlock doesn’t like it, I guess he can prove it never happened. He’d better get busy accounting for every 30-second segment of his life if he wants us to believe him. We wouldn’t want to be accused of giving him “the benefit of the doubt.”
He’s earned a fortune with racial satire. He knows what he’s doing. You can argue the comments are presented out of context and were meant as jokes. Then I’d argue that Limbaugh needs to get on the comedy-club circuit and out of the business of attempting to influence presidential politics.
Or, actually, you could argue that the comments never happened. Given the obvious fact that Huberman ripped off Wikiquote for his first alleged Limbaugh racial slur, and gives no source whatsoever for the second, we don’t need to yet even have the argument about whether they disqualify Limbaugh from owning the Rams, because we haven’t uncovered anything that would convince any serious person that the comments were ever made in the first place.
I guess Whitlock’s piece is refreshing in one way: unlike the other alleged news outlets covering this “story,” Whitlock frankly admits that he believes these things about Limbaugh because they fit his own preconceived narrative of what Limbaugh is about, not because of the factual foundation upon which they are based. In a sense, that’s fine; no one of even functional intelligence reads Jason Whitlock expecting to find facts, reasoned analysis, or objective reporting on the world. That’s more and more true of news outlets like CNN as well, but they are still desperately trying to maintain the facade. If they want to do so, they should immediately retract and apologize to Rush Limbaugh, or just take the Whitlock route and frankly admit the biases they have. In that sense, perhaps Chris Matthews is the most honest player in this particular farce: