Limbaugh defended racially charged Grossman comment: "[T]he whole point was to tweak the media"

››› ››› ANDREW IRONSIDE

Rush Limbaugh claimed that he made his comments that Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman was being criticized for his Super Bowl performance solely "because he's a white quarterback" in order "to tweak the media," and that he informed his audience "[l]ater in the program" about the "gag." In fact, it wasn't until the day after the statement that Limbaugh told listeners that he was trying to "tweak the media." Limbaugh also criticized "the sports media" for relying on "these liberal so-called watchdog media -- media watchdog websites."

On the February 13 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, in the face of criticism by Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King for his February 5 comment that, as Media Matters for America noted, "[t]hey're [the media] dumping on this guy, [Chicago Bears quarterback] Rex Grossman, for one reason, folks, and that's because he's a white quarterback," Rush Limbaugh said of his claim: "And the whole point was to tweak the media, and another point was to demonstrate that these people in the sports media that comment on me don't listen to this program. They get what I said selectively and out of context from these liberal so-called watchdog media -- media watchdog websites," an apparent reference to Media Matters. Limbaugh claimed that, after making the racially charged comment, "Later in the program, I let the audience in on the gag, which was to tweak the media." He later said: "I'm the last person to see black or white, or sex. It's liberals that do this."

In fact, despite claiming to have "let the audience in on the gag" "[l]ater in the program," it wasn't until the next day, on the February 6 edition of his program, that he said the following about his Grossman comment: "I did that because I was trying to tweak the same media who went bonkers when I said the same thing about them and the way they treat [Philadelphia Eagles quarterback] Donovan McNabb" -- referring to his 2003 statement that "[t]he NFL is very desirous that a black quarterback do well," which led to his subsequent resignation from his position on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown. Limbaugh also said his statement was "[j]ust a new technique here to try to get people aroused and get them attentive to something that I do consider to be, you know, something that's pretty bad."

Also, during the February 13 edition of the program, Limbaugh said: "And then he [King] quoted me verbatim what I had said, but did not quote anything I had said about this being a tweak of the media, an illustration of the absurd by being absurd or any of that, which means King didn't hear what I said. He's simply relying on the left-wing media watchdog site, which is what they all do." He was addressing King's criticism in the February 11 edition of his weekly "Monday Morning QB" column on Sports Illustrated's website, in which King called Limbaugh a "race-aholic" and said: "He injects race where it has no business being injected." King rejected Limbaugh's assertion that the media "was dumping on [Grossman] ... because he's a white quarterback" and responded in part: "Rush, we're dumping on him because, in a five-point game in the fourth quarter, with the Bears in possession of the ball and still with a very good chance to win, he threw two ridiculous passes in the biggest game of his life. Two interceptions. Buried his own team."

From the February 13 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Let me get some personal things out of the way here, folks. Can we go back -- audio sound byte number four, Mr. Broadcast Engineer. Monday, February 5th, the day after the Super Bowl, this is what I, El Rushbo, had to say.

LIMBAUGH [audio clip]: I can't handle anymore press criticism of Rex Grossman. They're writing his name W-R-E-C-K-S. They're just -- worst quarterback ever to play in the Super Bowl. And it's been like this since the Green Bay game -- actually since the Arizona game, a little crescendo of it in the Green Bay game, the last game of the season for the Bears. And it's just unrelenting! It's just -- they're focusing on this guy like they don't focus on anybody! And I tell you, I know what it is. The media, the sports media's got social concerns that they are first and foremost interested in, and they're dumping on this guy, Rex Grossman, for one reason, folks, and that's because he is a white quarterback.

LIMBAUGH: And then later in the program -- of course, we're all laughing ourselves silly here. I went into the break with that. That's the last thing I said before going into a break, and we were laughing in the break. Later in the program I let the audience in on the gag, which was to tweak the media. It's a takeoff on the old Donovan McNabb comments about the media -- having social concerns, and wanting a black quarterback to do -- again, I'm sorry for this persistent cough. And if I take cough medicine here, I'm going to be loopy and I can't do that, so it's -- it's just -- I apologize. It's very unprofessional.

So anyway, I thought that it might maybe -- oh, a day or two -- and all hell would break loose over this, but it took longer than that. And finally, by last Friday, as I'm perusing the Internet during some downtime out at the AT&T National Pro Am, I'm starting to see on some blogs, "Limbaugh has lost his mind. Limbaugh has gone insane." And do you remember, Mr. Snerdley, before I made this comment, I said, let's have a little fun today. Let's tweak the media. And there was a vote in there -- don't do it. Do do it. Don't do it. And the votes to do it were 2-to-1 in favor of doing it.

And the whole point was to tweak the media, and another point was to demonstrate that these people in the sports media that comment on me don't listen to this program. They get what I said selectively and out of context from these liberal so-called watchdog media -- media watchdog websites. And lo and behold, it took four or five days, and then the dam broke. It wasn't quite as bad obviously as the McNabb situation, because I think some people out there actually got the joke, but there were those who didn't. And when I had the time, I jotted off a quick email note to some of these bloggers and sports writers saying, you know, you guys missed the whole point. If you'd just listen to my show now and then rather than get what I say that's selectively cherry-picked from these websites, you might get in on it. And they said well, you know, if you're going to crack jokes like this -- if you're going to be humorous like this, don't you think it would be well worth it for you and your sense of humor to be well known to people even outside your audience?

How can I do that?! How can I make my sense of humor well known to people outside my audience?! That -- isn't that up to you -- you guys are reporters! Are you going to -- how come I am the last place anybody would go to find out what I said?!

The fact of the matter is that on two or three subsequent programs I mentioned this to callers -- that it was a joke, that it was a tweak of the media. And Peter -- I think Peter King, is that his name, from Sports Illustrated in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" piece yesterday just got very agitated about this, and started off by saying "You know, for those of us who felt pity for Rush Limbaugh over his McNabb comments, I think we can forget it now." And then he quoted verbatim what I had said, but did not quote anything that I had about this being a tweak of the media, an illustration of the absurd by being absurd or any of that. Which means that King didn't hear what I said. He's simply relying on a left-wing media watchdog site, which is what they all do.

But then he added this. "I think I'd like to say one more thing to Limbaugh. There's a fairly significant decision coming in this country in 2008. We in New Jersey and New Mexico and New London and New Wherever have one simple request as you mull over the candidacies of a black man, a white woman, and many white men in the coming presidential debate: Please treat them as candidates, not black candidates or female candidates or white candidates."

Now, this is from the arrogant and condescending lofty platitudes of liberalism. Mr. King, I resent the assumption that you make. How about if -- I'll make you a deal, Mr. King. I will continue to do what I do -- I'm the last person that sees black or white, or sex. It's liberals that do this. It's liberals that have put everybody into groups -- usually making them victims -- but I'll make you a deal, Peter. If you'll stop telling me which coaches in the NFL are black, and if you'll stop whining and moaning about how socially behind the times the NFL is because it doesn't have enough minority coaches or assistant coaches or general managers -- if you'll stop pointing out to me every time a player comes up, what his race is, and what his background was, and what his obstacles to overcome were, then I will keep doing what I do.

And that is -- all I do, Peter, is analyze people on the issues. That's why I have never gone along with feminism as something oriented toward women. We know that it's not -- Gloria Steinem has a piece recently, by the way, in which she -- the choice between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton? Why, that's no -- just -- either one is fine! Either one is fine! She starts lamenting this race and group pol -- well, who started all of this? People like Gloria Steinem.

This proves to me what I've known all along. Feminism was never about women's issues and women's this -- it's just another way to advance liberalism, as is so much of the liberal groupthink that happens out there.

But, Mr. King, you and I can make a deal here. You stop telling me about all the social problems that exist in the NFL based on race and so forth, and I will keep doing what I do by not noticing those things, and I'll stop making fun of you guys for doing it.

From the February 6 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: And for almost 19 years here, I've been dealing with stories like this, and being righteously indignant and apocalyptic. This is, we're going to hell in a handbasket. How can this stuff be happening and so forth. I think rather to make the point of just how absurd it is, is to agree with it.

CALLER: I should have thought this. I mean, us Brits are always talking on about irony, and so this actually-- [laughter]

LIMBAUGH: Well, but that's all about, that's about getting you up to speed here on this. I mean, this is, this is ridiculous. Calling, the thing is, in this country Christians are the one group, the one religious group, you can totally make fun of and bash, and destroy. Jewish people, there's a new wave of anti-Semitism all over Europe, and the United Nations I consider to be the repository for anti-Semitism today.

CALLER: Yeah.

LIMBAUGH: And so, I'll give you an example of how I do this. Yesterday, are you familiar, [caller], with my, how shall I say this? The controversy in which I became entwined over comments made about the media, the way they reported on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb?

CALLER: Yes, I am.

LIMBAUGH: All right. Well, we just finished our Super Bowl here, and the Chicago Bears' quarterback, Rex Grossman, for the last three weeks has just been slimed by the sports media in this country. They just said that he was -- he's the worst quarterback to ever play in the Super Bowl. They have been treating this guy with no mercy whatsoever. They have been predicting doom and gloom. They've been hoping that he would have a rotten Super Bowl. They're happily reporting that he did. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So yesterday I said that I think the only reason that the media is down on Rex Grossman is because they have this social desire for the NFL to become modernized and so forth. To get with it for the 21st century. And they just loved trashing this guy because he's a white quarterback and they don't want him to do well.

CALLER: Oh, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: Now, I did that, I think it's safe to admit it now -- I did that because I was trying to tweak the same media who went bonkers when I said the same thing about them and the way they treat Donovan McNabb. And I was, 24 hours had gone by and they haven't picked up on it. So either they knew I was joking and got the point, or, obviously they haven't picked it up. So they knew that I was tweaking them. Same thing here. I was -- of course I don't think its OK to call Jews apes and Christians pigs. But to, to simply ask what's so hateful about that is my way of calling even more attention to how absurd it is.

CALLER: Sure.

LIMBAUGH: Just a new technique here to try to get people aroused and get them attentive to something that I do consider to be, you know, something that's pretty bad.

CALLER: Yeah. Oh, well you know, totally understand.

From King's February 11 "Monday Morning QB" column:

7. I think for any of you -- us -- feeling the least bit of pity for Rush Limbaugh after his silly remarks about black quarterbacks and the media, we can all now rest easy. The guy's a race-aholic. He injects race where it has no business being injected. The latest, you've probably heard, but here it is, from Limbaugh's radio show last Monday:

"And before we go to the break here, folks, I've got to get something off my chest. You know, the game was the game. And the game was what it was. But I - I can't handle any more press criticism of Rex Grossman. They're writing his name W-R-E-C-K-S. They're just ... worst quarterback ever to play in the Super Bowl. And it's been like this since the Green Bay game -- actually since the Arizona game, a little crescendo of it in the Green Bay game, the last game of the season for the Bears. And it's just unrelenting! It's just -- they're focusing on this guy like they don't focus on anybody!

"And I tell you, I know what it is. The media, the sports media, has got social concerns that they are first and foremost interested in, and they're dumping on this guy -- Rex Grossman -- for one reason, folks, and that's because he is a white quarterback.''

Rush, we're dumping on him because, in a five-point game in the fourth quarter, with the Bears in possession of the ball and still with a very good chance to win, he threw two ridiculous passes in the biggest game of his life. Two interceptions. Buried his own team. Had it been McNabb or [New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew] Brees or [Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron] Leftwich or [Detroit Lions quarterback Jon] Kitna or [Boston Red Sox pitcher] Daisuke Matsuzaka, we'd have buried them too.

8. I think I'd like to say one more thing to Limbaugh: There's a fairly significant decision coming in this country in 2008. We in New Jersey and New Mexico and New London and New Wherever have one simple request as you mull over the candidacies of a black man, a white woman and many white men in the coming presidential debate: Treat them as candidates, not black candidates or female candidates or white candidates.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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