Gibson, self-proclaimed "black man's best friend," launches false attack on Media Matters over "ooga booga fever" fallout

››› ››› ANDREW IRONSIDE

During the June 1 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Fox News anchor John Gibson responded to posts on Media Matters for America and Think Progress about his comment on the May 31 edition of Fox News' The Big Story that "every time a story pops up about somebody who has suddenly contracted some strange or incurable disease, it's somebody who is either from the third world, or was traveling through some godforsaken hellhole, and somehow managed to contract ooga booga fever." Gibson responded: "Well, the whitest man in America, who is the black man's best friend, is now being alleged to be a racist for having invented something called ooga booga fever." He also said, "I should have said Ouagadougou fever," a reference to the capital of the African country Burkina Faso.

Gibson asserted: "Media Matters is going after me. Think Progress is going after me. Now, Media Matters assures, assures me -- the fact that Media Matters has taken me on, put my picture up there, and quoted ooga booga fever as being racist. It's guaranteed that I'm going to be the Worst Person in the World, in somebody's mind," referring to the nightly feature on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Gibson called Media Matters "an attack machine" and said: "I say something like that, I get a laugh, there's gonna be somebody who's offended. This is how they beat me over the head. That Media Matters, which as it turns out now, as some investigating has revealed, was invented by the Hillary Clinton campaign -- they got together with David Brock and they just put this thing together, secretly. And he's been funded secretly by the Clinton campaign." Media Matters is an independent progressive organization and is not funded (or "invented") by or affiliated with any candidate or political party.

Gibson explained the origin of his "ooga booga fever" comment by claiming that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV -- whose July 2003 New York Times op-ed on his trip to Niger to determine if Iraq was trying to acquire uranium set off a controversy that resulted in the outing of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative -- wrote in his book that "to get to Niger, you have to fly into the capital of the neighboring country, Burkina Faso, to the capital of Ouagadougou. And I said, 'Now that cannot be true.' So I got out my little MapQuest, and sure enough, up pops the map, and right there next to Niger is the country of Burkina Faso and the capital city of Ooh-ga Doo-gu." Gibson continued: "So I, in making up ooga booga fever, I actually mispronounced the name of Burkina Faso. I should have said Ouagadougou fever." He also stated: "Now, I could have called it Machu Picchu fever or Latino jungle fever or something. I've gotten sick in those places too."

As Media Matters has noted, Gibson has previously referred to the Iraqi people as "knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century." He also urged his viewers to "[d]o your duty. Make more babies," because, he said, "Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic."

Think Progress and the weblog Johnny Dollar's Place also noted Gibson's response.

From the June 1 edition of Fox News Radio's The John Gibson Show:

GIBSON: Now I am currently under assault on the Internet.

ANGRY RICH (executive producer): Again.

GIBSON: Again. It arises from a "My Word" I did yesterday about the TB man, Andrew Speaker.

GIBSON [audio clip]: Now "My Word." The TB Man story has me completely mesmerized. I've been doing this for a few years. It seems every time a story pops up about somebody who has suddenly contracted some strange or incurable disease, it's somebody who is either from the Third World, or was traveling through some godforsaken hellhole, and somehow managed to contract ooga booga fever.

GIBSON: [laughter] "Ooga booga fever" seems to have set off a national panic.

ANGRY RICH: What's the problem with that?

GIBSON: Well, the whitest man in America, who is the black man's best friend, is now being alleged to be a racist for having invented something called ooga booga fever.

ANNOUNCER [audio clip]: Gibson is a racist!

GIBSON: Now, in the next sentence after that, I described how when I was in --

GIBSON [audio clip]: I got dengue fever in Mogadishu, Somalia, just for instance.

GIBSON: I did, I got dengue fever. I didn't even know what it was, but boy, I found out. I was sick as a dog for days. And still going on the air and doing these reports for NBC, climbing out of that bed, where I was sweating off pounds, go up to the roof and sit there looking like a dead man, and do a report every hour, and never missed one. And I had that fever.

GIBSON [audio clip]: You tend not to get dengue fever in Los Angeles or Jersey City.

GIBSON: And my point is that, you know, the TB guy, his father-in-law works with TB, you know, swears he didn't bring it home on his shoes or something. You know, he had to have been -- he's a traveler or something, he had to have been going someplace to pick up this particularly virulent form of tuberculosis. Now, I could have called it Machu Picchu fever or Latino jungle fever or something. I've gotten sick in those places too.

ANGRY RICH: Potomac fever.

GIBSON: No, I probably wouldn't have called it that. So, today, the left-wing blogs erupted. Calling me a racist over the invented disease I called ooga booga fever.

AUDIO CLIP: Google it on Media Matters.

GIBSON: Media Matters is going after me. Think Progress is going after me. Now, Media Matters assures, assures me -- the fact that Media Matters has taken me on, put my picture up there, and quoted ooga booga fever as being racist. [laughter] It's guaranteed that I'm going to be the Worst Person in the World, in somebody's mind.

ANGRY RICH: When somebody climbs out of the bathtub on Monday.

GIBSON: Yeah, when the little boat is put away, and the bathtub's drained, I'll end up being the Worst Person. As a matter of fact, I just looked up, cause I knew that there was some place that I'd kinda got that word, and I had gotten out of, of all places, Joe Wilson's book. And I remember him writing that he flew into the -- that in order to get to Niger, you have to fly into the capital of the neighboring country, Burkina Faso, to the capital of Ouagadougou. And I said, "Now that cannot be true." So I got out my little MapQuest, and sure enough, up pops the map, and right there next to Niger is the country of Burkina Faso and the capitol city of Ooh-ga Doo-gu. So I, in making up ooga booga fever, I actually mispronounced the name of Burkina Faso. I should have said Ouagadougou fever.

ANGRY RICH [reading from comments in Think Progress post]: Think Progress: "Ooga booga fever. This summarizes the entirety of Republicans' knowledge of science."

CHRISTINE (producer): Think Progress: "Hey, Julia Roberts used to be 'America's Sweetheart,' then Meg Ryan. Uncle John Gibson is 'America's crazy uncle.' We've all had 'em or got 'em."

ANGRY RICH: ThinkProgress: "Ooga booga fever? Jeez. What's next? Gibson in blackface?"

GIBSON: I mean, these guys are going off the deep end. And I knew it. The second I said it, the crew in the studio laughed, four of whom are black. And I said -- they laughed -- you know, I've learned to sort of sense these things. I say something like that, I get a laugh, there's gonna be somebody who's offended. This is how they beat me over the head. That Media Matters, which, as it turns out now, as some investigating has revealed, was invented by the Hillary Clinton campaign -- they got together with David Brock and they just put this thing together, secretly. And he's been funded secretly by the Clinton campaign. And it is an attack machine on anybody who doesn't toe the liberal line, anybody who attacks Hillary or, in their view, misrepresents what she says or thinks, or anybody who just purports to explain any conservative idea. So they're after me now over this ooga booga fever. Ooga booga, is, from Wikipedia here, this is a video game. "Ooga Booga is an online multiplayer game for the Sega Dreamcast. ... The storyline is that Ooga Booga is a volcano goddess that creates islands, and has leaders of tribes, 'Kahunas', battle for her favor." You think, Rich, I should have reconsidered Ooga Booga fever?

ANGRY RICH: No.

GIBSON: Yeah, I don't either, actually. Ashley, was I being racist?

ASHLEY: You might have a problem against The Nightmare Before Christmas. There's a character in it, claymation, named Oogie Boogie man.

ANGRY RICH: Oh, no.

GIBSON: Oh. Oogie Boogie man?

ASHLEY: I figure if you're racist against anything, it's claymation.

GIBSON: Well, that's probably true.

ANGRY RICH: Clay hater.

GIBSON: Clay.

[Audio of song: "There's a way out, I say, yes, yes / It's shipping your cargo on the freedom express / Ooga booga / Ooga booga"]

GIBSON: There's another racist. Even saying the words "ooga booga," he must be a white man, he must be a racist. We're discovering all kinds of "ooga booga" references. Turns out the poet laureate of -- is this an American poet? Frederick Seidel? He wrote a book of poetry called Ooga-Booga. How many liberal websites am I now being trashed on, Angry Rich?

ANGRY RICH: You're on two of the biggest ones right now, front page.

GIBSON: We're pretty sure that come Monday, I'll be -- you think I'll make Worse, Worser or Worst?

ANGRY RICH: You'll probably be the -- well, for more than one reason, you'll be the worst.

GIBSON: Oh? Are you keeping something from me?

ANGRY RICH: Remember that bit we did earlier?

GIBSON: Yeah --

ANGRY RICH: We sang a song about [unintelligible] -- forgot that, didn't you?

GIBSON: Oh, it's all a blur.

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