Conservative media ignore their own long history of invoking Nazis to smear progressives

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:

Other conservatives have drawn comparisons between Obama administration, Democrats and Nazis

Conservatives have also used Nazi rhetoric to attack Obama administration policies and proposals, particularly health care reform

Conservatives have long used Nazi rhetoric to smear progressives

Al Gore

Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton

Current or former Democratic officials

George Soros

“Left-wing media”

Media Matters for America

Other progressive organizations, including NCLR, SEIU, ACORN

Progressive movement, progressive individuals