Limbaugh claimed his Abu Ghraib comments "represent the views of the average American leftist"

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

On the November 8 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh defended his numerous controversial remarks about the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison as an attempt to expose the hypocrisy of liberals. In response to the question -- posed November 7 by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on the floor of the Senate -- of whether Limbaugh's statements "represent the views and attitudes of the average American citizen," Limbaugh countered that they "represent the views of the average American leftist! It's the left that will not condemn any of this when it happens to their kids, when it's happening in schools, when it's happening in the porno industry in this country." Throughout the broadcast, Limbaugh repeatedly referred to the senator as Tom "Dung Heap" Harkin; this description of Harkin appears in the transcript of the segment on RushLimbaugh.com.

Harkin recently proposed an amendment to the 2006 defense authorization bill to include "fairness and balance" on taxpayer-funded American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). In a November 7 statement on the floor of the Senate, Harkin quoted Limbaugh's various comments regarding the detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib. The following day, Limbaugh played an audio clip of Harkin's statement and interjected his defense of the comments.

When Harkin noted his various claims that the abuse represented "a fraternity prank," "a brilliant maneuver," and "no different than what happens at Skull and Bones initiation at Yale," Limbaugh claimed that the senator was "taking this out of context" and that it was "a laugh line."

When Harkin quoted him describing the Abu Ghraib images as "pictures of homoeroticism that looks like standard good, old American pornography," Limbaugh conceded that the quote was accurate. But he went on to state that he had merely been making a point: "Why are people upset about this when they buy it on cable TV?"

In his statement, Harkin also cited Limbaugh's comment that the pictures of the abuse "might win a video award for the pornography industry." Harkin then asked, "Does this represent the views and attitudes of the average American citizen?" Limbaugh responded, "No, no, of course not. But it does represent the views of the average American leftist! It's the left that will not condemn any of this when it happens to their kids, when it's happening in schools, when it's happening in the porno industry in this country. ... Senator Harkin, your crowd is the one that's totally tolerant of this, except when it happens in a prison to our enemies!"  

From the November 8 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Let's go to the audio tapes. We're going to start with the Harkin floor debate on me and this program. Our nickname for him is Tom "Dung Heap" Harkin. I've forgotten why we named him that. But it was -- he said something once about a dung heap -- called his opponents dung heaps or something, so we turned it back around on him. This is a portion of his remarks. They're debating the defense authorization bill, but Harkin is upset that I dominate so much of Armed Forces Radio Network and that so few progressives have a chance to be heard.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: Here is a United States senator from the neighboring state of my home state. I'm in Missouri, from Missouri, Iowa is on our northern border. Here's a senator from Iowa talking about a citizen of this country who has his own little mind; I do mean little. You have a U.S. senator personally berating a citizen of this country, and I'm honored to be the citizen. I am honored to be the citizen berated as a small mind by Tom "Dung Heap" Harkin on the floor of the Senate. And I just, I sat here and -- I walked out yesterday -- Snerdley and I walked out to leave, and he said, "I guess we know what's gonna be on the show tomorrow." And I said, "Well, a portion of it." And I told him then, I said, "Well, my dad would not believe this. Just wouldn't believe it."

Here's more. They -- this didn't stop. He goes back to the Abu Ghraib quotes now to, in order -- now, remember, what he's tryin' to do is get a bunch of liberal hosts that you can't listen to and you've never heard of on Armed Forces Radio Network. So in order to do that -- he can't build them up -- he has to try to tear me down.

HARKIN [audio clip]: Here's what Rush Limbaugh had to say about Abu Ghraib. He called it "a fraternity prank."

LIMBAUGH: Yes.

HARKIN [audio clip]: He dubbed the humiliation of inmates "a brilliant maneuver, no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation at Yale."

LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape a second. Now, this, this is classic because he is taking this out of context, which is proof that they don't get the joke. Skull and Bones, that's John Kerry, that's George Bush. These guys -- and there are all kinds of secret things that go on at Skull and Bones, and it was a laugh line. And here is this guy, outraged and taking it seriously. Not getting it at -- probably on purpose -- but I doubt that he would have gotten it if he'd have heard it in context originally.

HARKIN [audio clip]: He described the images of torture as -- again, a quote from Rush Limbaugh -- "pictures of homoeroticism that look like standard good, old American pornography."

LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape! Yes, he's quoting me accurately, and I said, "Why are people upset about this when they buy it on cable TV, they buy it on the Internet, and they buy it in magazines every week? I thought we were supposed to love homoerotic things. I thought we were supposed to be open-minded and tolerant to homoerotic things. I thought that was the definition of an open mind, a large mind." So here I say, "Hey, there are a lot of people look at these pictures probably gettin' turned on. This is good! They are lookin' at these pictures and they're thinking, 'America is advancing. Now the military's getting into it.' " Over their heads! Flat, smack-dab over their heads! Let's listen to the rest.

HARKIN [audio clip]: That's Rush Limbaugh talking to our troops 100 percent of the time. He said of the pictures at Abu Ghraib -- and, again, this is quote from Rush Limbaugh -- "If you take these pictures and bring them back and have them taken in an American city and put on an American website, they might win a video award for the pornography industry." I ask, does this represent the views and attitudes of the average American citizen?

LIMBAUGH: No, no, of course not. But it does represent the views of the average American leftist! It's the left that will not condemn any of this when it happens to their kids, when it's happening in schools, when it's happening in the porno industry in this country. In fact, the Supreme Court has said that this kind of stuff can happen with no controls whatsoever on the Internet! Senator Harkin, your crowd is the one that's totally tolerant of this, except when it happens in a prison to our enemies! Pornographers can destroy our own citizens, corrupt our own children, and you sit by and say nothing! But when this kind of thing happens to people who want to blow up the country, you somehow want to come to the defense of the people that want to blow up the country!

AFRTS recently announced that it was adding progressive radio host Ed Schultz to its lineup. Media Matters for America has been active in the effort to encourage political balance at AFRTS.

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