Limbaugh misquoted Clyburn, identified him as "of the Congressional Black Caucus," rather than as majority whip

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh asserted: "Three weeks ago, you had Jim Clyburn of the Congressional Black Caucus saying, 'You know, if this report is good, it presents problems for us,' meaning the Democrat [sic] Party." In fact, Clyburn did not say that good news from Iraq is bad news for Democrats in electoral terms, but rather that a recommendation from Gen. David Petraeus against withdrawal would impede Democrats' efforts to garner support in Congress for legislation to begin withdrawal. And while Limbaugh identified Clyburn merely as "of the Congressional Black Caucus," Clyburn is also House majority whip, the third-highest position in the House.

During the September 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, discussing Gen. David Petraeus' recent testimony on Iraq, host Rush Limbaugh asserted: "Three weeks ago, you had [House Majority Whip] Jim Clyburn [D-SC] of the Congressional Black Caucus saying, 'You know, if this report is good, it presents problems for us,' meaning the Democrat [sic] Party." Limbaugh cited this as an example of how "Democrats' message on this is all over the board." In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, what Clyburn said during a July 30 "PostTalk" interview on washingtonpost.com is that if Petraeus were to report that the military effort in Iraq "is working very, very well at this point; we would be foolish to back away from it," it would cause "those 47 Blue Dogs ... to want to stay the course, and if the Republicans were to remain united, as they have been, then it would be a problem for us." In other words, Clyburn did not say that good news from Iraq is bad news for Democrats in electoral terms, but rather that a recommendation from Petraeus against withdrawal would impede Democrats' efforts to garner support in Congress for legislation to begin withdrawal. Indeed, Clyburn added: "None of us want to see a bad result in Iraq. If we are going to get in position to yield a good result, I think Democrats want to see that."

From the July 30 "PostTalk" interview of Clyburn on washingtonpost.com, video of which is available at the website:

BALZ: What do Democrats do if General Petraeus comes in in September and says, "This is working very, very well at this point; we would be foolish to back away from it"?

CLYBURN: Well, that would be a real big problem for us, no question about that, simply because of those 47 Blue Dogs. I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course, and if the Republicans were to remain united, as they have been, then it would be a problem for us.

So I think we, by and large, would do wise -- be wise to wait on the report. None of us want to see a bad result in Iraq. If we are going to get in position to yield a good result, I think Democrats want to see that. We love this country. We're as patriotic as anybody else about this. And we have loved ones involved in this issue just like everybody else. I've got family and friends involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so I certainly want to see a good result. But I'm certainly not going to just roll over because the president said. It is only because we get good intelligence from those people like General Petraeus who can be trusted to give us good information.

Limbaugh's identification of Clyburn -- who is House majority whip, the third-highest position in the House after speaker and House majority leader -- solely as "of the Congressional Black Caucus" is not the first time he has injected race into a discussion. Other examples include:

  • On the January 16 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh called Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) a "half-minority" in the context of criticizing Obama for supporting his hometown Chicago Bears over the New Orleans Saints in the National Football League's National Football Conference championship game on January 21.
  • On the February 14, 2006, broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh invented a "racial component" to explain Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett's departure from the Ohio Democratic Senate primary race. While reporting on Hackett's decision to withdraw from the race against then-Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for the seat then held by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), Limbaugh asserted: "And don't forget, Sherrod Brown is black. There's a racial component here, too," adding that "the newspaper that I'm reading all this from is The New York Times, and they, of course, don't mention that." In fact, Brown is Caucasian -- a point Limbaugh acknowledged later in the program. Brown defeated DeWine in the 2006 midterm election.
  • Limbaugh was forced to resign from his position as a commentator on ESPN following criticism of his controversial 2003 comments about Donovan McNabb, a quarterback for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. During the September 28, 2003, edition of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, Limbaugh said that "[t]he media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well" and, therefore, that McNabb "got a lot of credit for the performance of this team [the Eagles] that he didn't deserve." On the February 9, 2006, broadcast of his show, Limbaugh said he "kind of like[s]" a caller's statement that Obama "is the Donovan McNabb of the U.S. Senate."
  • On the August 21 broadcast of his show, Limbaugh asserted that Democrats are interested in Darfur for "two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in Darfur? It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in trouble." A caller to the show responded, "The black population," to which Limbaugh said, "Right." He also stated: "So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela -- who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing."

From the September 10 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: It is just startling to watch this. I can't describe for you the depth of rage, emotion, anger, frustration, all of those things that I feel when I see a four-star general in full military dress being told he's a liar. Being told that he is a puppet. Being told that nothing he says is going to be considered truthful. And he sits there, and he doesn't flinch, stares right back at them. I just -- I laugh when a four-star -- decorated four-star general in full military dress unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate -- and I think, last time I looked, as Duncan Hunter said, unanimous is pretty close to majority in the Senate -- the last -- the -- I look at him just not flinching. I look at Lantos telling him that his strategy of withdrawing a brigade is nothing, and I want to ask myself, where is the military expertise of Tom Lantos? Who is advising him? Has he been there? How long ago? I don't know, but I can tell you that the Democrats' message on this is all over the board.

Three weeks ago, you had Jim Clyburn of the Congressional Black Caucus saying, "You know, if this report is good, it presents problems for us," meaning the Democrat Party. You've had Durbin, a number of others, and House Democrats have gone over to Iraq and said, "This is really working. This surge -- why, Al Anbar Province" -- six months ago Democrats were using that as evidence that the war in Iraq had failed and was already lost -- "is now safe."

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