Numerous media conservatives have misrepresented House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comments that protesters are "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care" to express outrage that she would call the protesters "Nazis" -- even though she didn't. However, their outrage rings hollow -- the conservative media frequently invoke Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to smear the Obama administration, Democratic officials, and progressive policies, and such rhetoric has escalated in the past few days, largely due to Rush Limbaugh.
Conservative media falsely claim Pelosi asserted or suggested that health care reform opponents are "Nazis"
Following Limbaugh's lead, numerous media figures have advanced this false claim. After host Rush Limbaugh said August 6 that Pelosi is "basically saying that we are Nazis. She is saying that the people who oppose this are Nazis, and I'm going to tell you what," MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Fox News' Gregg Jarrett, and The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan and James Taranto falsely claimed or suggested that Pelosi called health reform opponents "Nazis."
In fact, Pelosi said protesters were "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care." Speaking to reporters, Pelosi was asked if she thought there was "legitimate grassroots opposition" at recent town hall events. She responded: "I think they're astroturf; you be the judge. They're carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care."
Some in the media also accused Pelosi of lying for saying protesters were "carrying swastikas" -- but they were. Numerous conservative outlets and figures, including The Washington Times, Andrew Breitbart, and The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore asserted or suggested that Pelosi was lying. But swastikas have appeared at town hall meetings. Indeed, as Media Matters for America senior fellow Eric Boehlert and Fox News contributor Alan Colmes have noted, multiple protesters at health care reform protests have held signs featuring swastikas.
Limbaugh has ratcheted up Nazi rhetoric to new levels in recent days
In the past week, Limbaugh has made comparisons of the Obama administration and Democrats to Hitler and the Nazis with alarming frequency. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks responded to one such comparison by stating: "What he's saying is insane."
Here are some recent examples of Limbaugh's obsession with Nazi comparisons:
- August 6: Limbaugh discusses "the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany"
- August 7: Limbaugh again says Obama health care logo "looks damn like the Nazi logo," lashes out at reporters mentioning comment
- August 7: Limbaugh falsely suggests that Obama believed "eight years ago," the American court system was "Nazi-like"
- August 7: Limbaugh again refers to "similarities" between Dem Party leaders, "Nazi Party of Germany"; adds Pelosi "started it"
- August 10: Limbaugh explaining his Nazi reference: "Socialism is socialism," "Hitler, Lenin, Stalin were all men of the left"
- August 10: Limbaugh: "Let's go back and compare [pay czar] to Nazi Germany"; "Hitler had a labor czar"
- August 10: Limbaugh: Gibbs "wants to say I was comparing the genocidal Hitler to Obama"; "I was comparing" two socialists
Other conservatives have drawn comparisons between Obama administration, Democrats and Nazis
- February 6: Beck on O'Reilly Factor: "We are really truly stepping beyond socialism and starting to look at fascism"; compares proposals to Nazi Germany
- April 2: Teasing tomorrow's show, Beck airs photos of Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, asks, "Is this where we're headed?"
- June 13: Which is it? Separate Wash. Times opeds compare Obama administration to 1930s Germany, 1930s England
- June 19: Coulter discusses "problem with huge bureaucracies" like Nazis, U.S. gov't, adds "I'm not saying this is Nazi Germany"
- July 22: Savage says "Adolf Hitler would be proud" of Schumer for "kill[ing]" concealed weapons amendment
- August 12: Beck: "I'm not comparing" Obama to Hitler, but "please read Mein Kampf" and learn from Germany's mistakes
Conservatives have also used Nazi rhetoric to attack Obama administration policies and proposals, particularly health care reform
- January 27: Numerous media figures equate Pelosi's defense of family planning provision in recovery package to China's "one-child policy," eugenics, Nazism
- January 27: KSFO's Sussman compares Pelosi's contraception comments to Nazism, claims we're on our way to a "one child policy in this country"
- February 11: Wash. Times invokes Nazism, publishes Hitler photo while criticizing health-care provisions in stimulus
- June 1: He's "not calling Barack Obama Hitler," but Goldberg compares GM bankruptcy to creation of Volkswagen under Nazi Germany
- June 10: Beck compares car dealership closures to Nazis; warns "Gang, at some point, they're going to come for you"
Conservatives have long used Nazi rhetoric to smear progressives
- Beck compares Gore to Joseph Goebbels and drug dealers, says "The government and its friends are indoctrinating our children for the control of their minds"
- In preview of special, CNN host allowed Beck to repeat comparison of global warming consensus to Hitler eugenics
- Cunningham compared Obama to Castro, Mao, and Hitler, declared Obama is "now poised ... to seize power in America"
- Stein on Obama's convention speech: "Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace, well, that's something the Fuehrer would have done"
- Noonan claimed Obama's DNC speech at Invesco Field "has every possibility of looking like a Nuremberg rally"
- On Hannity & Colmes, Coulter again made Obama-Hitler comparison, said Clinton "would enjoy torturing" detainees
Current or former Democratic officials
- Hannity suggested use of Quran in representative's swearing-in same as using "Nazi bible" Mein Kampf
- Claiming "I'm not making any comparison here," O'Reilly asserted that like Pelosi, Hitler also "practiced for hours before making a speech"
- Coulter: Dems have "a Nazi collaborator, literally -- international financier George Soros -- funding their phony grassroots organizations"
- Savage on "Billionaire George Goebbels Soros": "a money changer in the temple of truth"; Savage on MoveOn.org: "rat-bastard Communists"
- Echoing Lyndon LaRouche, Horowitz and Poe smear 14-year-old George Soros as Nazi "collaborator"; new book features doctored quotes, factual errors
- TNR's Peretz cropped transcript to support his smear of Soros as "a young cog in the Hitlerite wheel"
- KSFO hosts repeat, embellish Soros Nazi smear: "[H]e, apparently very cheerfully and willingly, went to work for the Nazis" to "further his own career"
- KSFO program director retracts Soros Nazi smear: "These statements are not accurate, and KSFO regrets that they were broadcast"
- O'Reilly claims media using Goebbels tactics to push "propaganda," left trying to "knock out Judeo-Christian traditions"
Media Matters for America
- Coulter to O'Reilly on Media Matters: "little Nazi block watcher" website that "want[s] to keep me off" of CNN
Other progressive organizations, including NCLR, SEIU, ACORN
- Beck on ACORN "brownshirts" and "their henchmen" at SEIU: "[T]hey break kneecaps... Maybe they do, maybe they don't, I don't know"
- O'Reilly: No escaping "the similarities between what Hitler ... did back then and the hate-filled blogs, what they're doing"
Progressive movement, progressive individuals
- O'Reilly denied comparing Franken to Goebbels -- but he did; CAP urged: E-mail O'Reilly "to correct the record"