Limbaugh runs with homeless-cell phone smear

››› ››› GREG LEWIS & LAURYN BRUCK

Discussing a photo of Michelle Obama at a homeless shelter that featured a man photographing Obama using a cell phone, Rush Limbaugh said, "[T]he homeless and the poor are showing up taking pictures of her with their cell phones." But homeless advocates have stated that cell phones are a "lifeline" for the homeless and noted the importance of having a stable phone number in trying to find jobs.

During the March 6 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh, discussing a photo of Michelle Obama's March 5 visit to a Washington, D.C., homeless shelter that featured a man photographing Obama using a cell phone, said that "the homeless and the poor are showing up taking pictures of her with their cell phones." Limbaugh later added: "What we have, ladies and gentlemen, is a giant welfare state that's in the process of being manufactured. That the Democrat [sic] Party will preside over forever. Because everybody or enough people are going to need the goodwill of Democrats in power in order to get by. Like, you're going to have to see the first lady behind the counter at McDonald's when you go in there as your poverty-stricken day drags on -- take a picture with your cell phone while you go in there and get your McNuggets or whatever's being handed out that day." However, homeless advocates have stated that cell phones are a "lifeline" for the homeless and noted the importance of having a stable phone number in trying to find jobs.

The St. Petersburg Times reported on April 9, 2007, on the "increasingly important" status of cell phones for the homeless:

Though it may seem strange to own a cell phone when you don't have a roof over your head, homeless advocates say the phones are becoming increasingly important to people living on the street.

They offer the best chance homeless people have at getting a call back from a potential employer. They are the most reliable way to stay in touch with family members who don't live in the area.

"There is a misperception that homeless people are lazy, unemployed people who don't work," said Lesa Weikel, a spokeswoman for the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County. "A high percentage of homeless people do actually work. It may be that they can't afford a home or a place to live, but they do get enough money to pay for a cell phone."

Last month, when a homeless man was hit and killed by a driver who didn't stop on Nebraska Avenue, his friend told police detectives to check the man's cell phone for a number to call his mother about the accident.

"It's absolutely become a lifeline," said Cory Crocker, who along with his wife, Tracey, provides services to the homeless through Covenant House Ministries in Sulphur Springs. "Some folks are only homeless for a very brief period of time, and that lifeline is hope."

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Maryland Newsline have also reported on the importance of cell phones to the homeless.

As Salon.com's War Room blog noted, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm reported on the photo in a March 6 blog post, writing: It doesn't detract from the first lady's generous gesture or the real needs she seeks to highlight to ask two bothersome journalistic questions about these news photos: If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone? And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?" Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin and NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez subsequently linked to Malcolm's post and commented on the photo. Malkin wrote of the photo: "[H]ere is one of the homeless cell phone owners snapping a pic of First Lady Michelle Obama -- ruining what was supposed to be a sob story photo op of the compassionate Mrs. O catering to the downtrodden." Lopez wrote, "I don't envy this man's situation, whatever it is, and don't mean to make light of it. But we are a blessed people when our poor have cell phones."

From the March 6 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: In fact, there's a great picture out there. Michelle, my belle, Obama, once again sleeveless. Was it Time magazine or Newsweek did a story this week -- maybe The New York Times -- on how you, too, can have highly toned arms like Michelle Obama. After the State of the Union show, a bunch of stories -- "Now, you, too, can have highly toned arms and get rid of the" -- whatever they call these flab things under there. Wings, whatever.

There's a picture of Michelle Obama at a homeless shelter in Washington. She's on the other side of the glass, you know, where the server would be serving McNuggets at McDonald's. And she's serving food to the homeless. And the homeless and the poor are showing up taking pictures of her with their cell phones. Yeah, I just saw the picture. We'll put it at RushLimbaugh.com. This is the poor and the War on Poverty.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: What we have, ladies and gentlemen, is a giant welfare state that's in the process of being manufactured, that the Democrat Party will preside over forever. Because everybody or enough people are going to need the goodwill of Democrats in power in order to get by. Like, you're going to have to see the first lady behind the counter at McDonald's when you go in there as your poverty-stricken day drags on -- take a picture with your cell phone while you go in there and get your McNuggets or whatever's being handed out that day.

Posted In
Economy, Poverty
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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