Covering for Limbaugh, Wallace ignores radio host's repeated statements that he hopes Obama "fails"

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace purported to correct Gov. Tim Kaine's statement that Rush Limbaugh "has been saying that he wants the president to fail" by asserting that "Limbaugh says -- and I think if you read what he says, he wasn't saying, 'I want the president to fail' -- he was saying, 'I want his policies, his agenda to fail,' and that he disagreed with them and thought they were bad for America." In fact, Limbaugh has repeatedly said he wants President Obama to fail while also specifying that he wants Obama's policies to fail.

On March 8, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace purported to correct Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's (D) statement that Rush Limbaugh "has been saying that he wants the president to fail" by asserting that "Limbaugh says -- and I think if you read what he says, he wasn't saying, 'I want the president to fail' -- he was saying, 'I want his policies, his agenda to fail,' and that he disagreed with them and thought they were bad for America." In fact, Limbaugh has repeatedly said he wants President Obama to fail while also specifying that he wants Obama's policies to fail. On February 13, for example, Limbaugh said that he "oppose[s]" Obama's economic recovery plan and "hope[s] it prolongs the recession." He also said, "Of course I want Obama to fail. And after this stimulus bill package passes, I want it to fail."

Wallace's assertion that Limbaugh "wasn't saying, 'I want the president to fail,' was noted by Think Progress, which pointed out that on the January 16 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh did in fact say of Obama: "I hope he fails" -- a statement Limbaugh justified by pointing to Obama policy proposals he opposes. Indeed, Limbaugh's website features a transcript (subscription required) of that January 16 segment with a headline reading simply: "Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails."

Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails

Limbaugh has made similar remarks more recently. As Media Matters for America documented, Limbaugh said on February 27: "The dirty little secret ... is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail but none of them have the guts to say so; I am willing to say it. We want him to fail because we want to preserve our country as we found it. We do not want to see a successful attack on capitalism."

From the February 27 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, as transcribed (subscription required) on Limbaugh's website:

RUSH: Okay. One of the things that I -- and this is not the magic trick -- one of the things that I absolutely love doing, and I have become an expert at it, I can do it any time I want, and that is tweaking liberals. I love irritating them. I love them gnashing their teeth. I love them just getting mad as hell at me. So when I say I want Obama to fail, I know full well that they are going to have a conniption fit, because I have violated political correctness. He's too big to fail because of the historic nature of his presidency. You can't wish the first black president would fail. "Why do you want your country to fail? That's a horrible thing to say. Why, only an idiot would say that." Well, we all agree, I'm not an idiot.

CALLER: No. But --

RUSH: The dirty little secret, Mary Ann, is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail but none of them have the guts to say so. I am willing to say it. We want him to fail because we want to preserve our country as we found it. We do not want to see a successful attack on capitalism.

During his February 13 show, Limbaugh said: "Of course I want Obama to fail. And after this stimulus bill package passes, I want it to fail."

From Limbaugh's February 13 show, as transcribed (subscription required) on his website:

I want everything he's doing to fail! His stimulus is not about creating jobs. It's about... Oh, we've been through this. I'm getting blue in the face talking about this. Anybody with a brain knows what's in this. Anybody with a brain knows that this approach has never worked. There's no evidence it's ever worked. It will be the first time. This is not about creating jobs. This is the exact opposite. This is all about rebuilding the Democrat Party into an unbeatable entity. It's about remaking the United States of America without the Constitution as the guiding light. Of course I want this to fail. Of course I want Obama to fail. And after this stimulus bill package passes, I want it to fail.

Let me give them some more fodder: I want the stimulus package to fail. 'Cause if this thing for the first time ever does what it never has done before, we're in even worse trouble. If it becomes established that the federal government and the federal government alone can manage the economy and take over the private sector, then forget it, folks. I'm looking for property in New Zealand, and I'm going to put my money in Singapore. I do not want this to succeed, and nobody who has any respect for the founding of this country and for the capitalist system, who is honest and who has looked at it, would want it to succeed either. We are being told it must succeed because it's Obama's. Well, what's such a big deal about Obama? Somebody tell me. Somebody tell me.

Later on February 13, Limbaugh stated, "Not only do I want Obama to fail, I want this package to fail. I want this to blow up in their face. I want this to be seen by the American people for what it is, nothing to do with getting them jobs, nothing to do with reviving the gross domestic product of this country." Still later during the same show, Limbaugh said of the economic recovery plan: "I hope it prolongs the recession."

From Limbaugh's February 13 show, as transcribed (subscription required) on Limbaugh's website:

I don't want people to be poor. I don't want people to be unemployed. I don't want people to be hopeless. I don't want people to be misled. I don't want people to be lied to. I don't want people to be told that somebody like government is going to do something for them when they're not. I want this to fail because this is the most expansive expenditure in the Democrat Party and liberalism's power that there has ever been. I hope it blows up in their face. I hope this thing does exactly what those of us who have studied these kinds of things do. I hope it prolongs the failure. I hope it prolongs the recession. Because people are going to have to figure out here that this is not how economies recover. Government is not the central planner. Government is not control of this. Government can't do it. This is a disaster. And, you know, I could sit here and say, "Yeah, I'm going to cross my fingers and hope and pray this is the first time this works," but if this works, the America that you and I know is over, Trevor, for your kids. It's over for a generation. It just is.

In his February 28 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Limbaugh described "[t]his notion that I want the president to fail" as "nothing more than common sense."

From Limbaugh's CPAC speech, as transcribed on Limbaugh's website:

Now, about my still-to-me mysteriously controversial comment that I hope President Obama fails. I was watching the Super Bowl. And as you know, I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. [Cheers and Applause] So they have this miraculous scoring drive that puts them up by four, 15 seconds left. Kurt Warner on the field for the Cardinals. And I sure as heck want you to know I hope he failed. I did not want the Cardinals to win. I wanted Warner to make the biggest fool of himself possible. I wanted a sack, I wanted anything. I wanted the Steelers to win. I wanted to win. I wanted the Cardinals to fail.

This notion that I want the President to fail, folks, this shows you a sign of the problem we've got. That's nothing more than common sense and to not be able to say it, why in the world do I want what we just described, rampant government growth indebtedness, wealth that's not even being created yet that is being spent, what is in this? What possibly is in this that anybody of us wants to succeed?

From the March 8 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Governor, isn't going after Rush Limbaugh a perfect example of the stale ideology and petty partisanship that the president was talking about?

KAINE: Well, it's not like Rush is a member of Congress, or, you know, or anyone of that kind. He's a radio personality who has been saying that he wants the president to fail. We wouldn't even be talking about Rush Limbaugh at all had he not said he wanted the president to fail -- and then he's found others in the party and party leaders who have either echoed that claim or, in the case of Chairman Steele, denounced the claim, which I thought was courageous, but then apologized to Rush Limbaugh.

So, I think there's an important point here. The billboard is a little bit of fun, admittedly, but there is an important point: At a time of crisis in this nation, nobody should be rooting for the president to fail. Both this country and the world needs him to succeed.

Now that doesn't mean that everybody has to agree with everything. I thought Senator McCain kind of said, "Look, we should be a loyal opposition, working together, disagreeing when we need to but always finding areas of agreement." If that is the spirit, then we're going to do fine. If we have people out there praying for the president to fail and trying to rally folks around that, we need to push back on that.

WALLACE: All right.

KAINE: That's just not the right message for the time.

WALLACE: Governor, we have to leave it there. I do want to point out, though, just as a point of information, that Rush Limbaugh says -- and I think if you read what he says, he wasn't saying, "I want the president to fail" -- he was saying, "I want his policies, his agenda to fail," and that he disagreed with them and thought they were bad for America. But fair enough.

Network/Outlet
FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
Rush Limbaugh, Chris Wallace
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
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