Limbaugh falsely accused Media Matters of not providing context for his "Obama Osama" comment

››› ››› ADAM SERWER

On the April 20 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Rush Limbaugh asserted that Media Matters for America "takes everything that we say here out of context". The example Limbaugh provided was an incident on his July 11, 2005, broadcast in which he repeatedly referred to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as "Obama Osama" and "Osama Obama." Limbaugh argued that he was just engaging in a "parody because Senator [Edward] Kennedy [D-MA] at the National Press Club was asked about Obama and said, "Well, we need to ask Osama about that." In fact, as Media Matters documented at the time, while Limbaugh mentioned Kennedy's gaffe during the broadcast, he also repeatedly referred to Obama as "Osama Obama" or "Obama Osama" in criticizing Obama and Democrats in general.

Limbaugh's comments on the April 20 broadcast came while he was introducing an impersonation of Kennedy as he was taking requests to air parodies from his archive in exchange for donations to his Cure-A-Thon 2007, a drive to raise money for victims of blood cancer:

LIMBAUGH: All right. Now, the second one he requested is the Ted Kennedy-Obama name mess-up. I want to set this one up because after we played this, the drive-by media, going to Media Matters, whatever -- that website, the front organization for the Clinton campaign, bought and paid for by George Soros and the Clinton people. Media Matters for America, which takes everything that we say here out of context and puts it up there. They are the supply source for the drive-by media of what is said on this program and a number of others. The drive-bys don't actually listen to this program.

And so we played this business of Ted Kennedy, and afterwards, word spread like wildfire through the Democrat [sic] blogs that I was calling Obama Osama, Barack Osama. And it was never I who did it, it was Senator Kennedy. Now, that was a parody because Senator Kennedy at the National Press Club was asked about Obama and said, "Well, we need to ask Osama about that."

In fact, contrary to Limbaugh's assertion that Media Matters did not provide context for his "Obama Osama" comment, Media Matters noted:

In criticizing a July 10 speech by Obama in Eatonville, Florida, Limbaugh added "Osama" to the senator's name seven times. Limbaugh justified his use of the phrase by explaining that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) had once done so.

As Limbaugh acknowledged on his show, Kennedy did correct himself after mistakenly saying "Osama bin" instead of "Obama" at a January 12 press conference at the National Press Club. The Associated Press reported on January 12, "Kennedy also mangled the name of the Democrats' new star, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, calling him 'Osama bin ... Osama ... Obama.' "

Limbaugh has referred to Obama as "Obama Osama" or "Osama Obama" several times since the January press conference, generally to mock Kennedy's misstatement. But on his July 11 show, Limbaugh also repeatedly used the phrase in criticizing Obama and Democrats in general.

In addition, Media Matters provided transcript and audio of Limbaugh's statements.

In his presentation of the parody on his April 20 broadcast, Limbaugh also repeated his false claim that Media Matters is a "front organization for the Clinton campaign, bought and paid for by George Soros and the Clinton people." In fact, Media Matters -- which is a progressive nonprofit organization unaffiliated with any political party or campaign -- has never received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros.

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