Rosen asserted Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Hannity don't "deal[] in venom" on the air; the record says differently


Discussing Bill Moyers' PBS documentary Buying the War during the April 26 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, host Mike Rosen asserted that media personalities Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity don't "deal[] in venom." He further asserted that "Rush Limbaugh is a mainstream conservative" and said that "[w]hen you think about venom, think about Air America."

From the April 26 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:

ROSEN: Couple of comments about Bill Moyers' assertions. When Moyers said that this avalanche of opposition and venom directed at them -- and by "them" he's referring to liberals in the media who do good reporting and report on the truth. When you think about venom these days -- and he ticked off a number of talk radio names: Bill O'Reilly, Rus -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mike Savage. I'd say that Mike Savage, Mike Savage deals in venom. Fair enough. Limbaugh certainly doesn't. O'Reilly certainly doesn't. And Hannity doesn't either. People can offer sharp opinions without resorting to spewing venom. When you think about venom, think about Air America and radical left -- radical left-wing radio. Rush Limbaugh isn't a radical right-winger; Rush Limbaugh is a mainstream conservative.

However, Media Matters for America and Colorado Media Matters have noted numerous instances in which Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Hannity have leveled attacks that can fairly be characterized as venomous.

Rush Limbaugh

  • On the March 27 edition of his national syndicated radio show, Limbaugh attributed bipartisan criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to "white liberal racists in the Senate." During the same broadcast, Limbaugh blamed Senate Democrats for the death -- which Limbaugh falsely called a suicide -- of the wife of judicial nominee Miguel Estrada, whose approval Senate Democrats blocked.
  • On the February 1 edition of his show, Limbaugh responded to a Reuters report on a University of Chicago study that found that "a majority of young blacks feel alienated from today's government" by asserting: "Why would that be? The government's been taking care of them their whole lives."
  • On April 26, 2004, Limbaugh claimed that women "actually wish" for sexual harassment, and he said on his May 5 program that he "laughed [him]self to tears" when Media Matters documented that and other sexist remarks he has made. The Media Matters item also noted that Limbaugh used the term "femi-Nazis" eight times between March 15 and April 29, 2004.
  • On his March 23 broadcast, Limbaugh accused Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, of exploiting the news that she has Stage IV metastatic breast cancer for political gain. Limbaugh said, "[M]ost people, when told a family member's been diagnosed with the kind of cancer Elizabeth Edwards has, they turn to God. The Edwards turned to the campaign. Their religion is politics and the quest for the White House."

Bill O'Reilly

  • On the September 13, 2005, broadcast of The Radio Factor, O'Reilly claimed that "many of the poor in New Orleans" did not evacuate the city before Hurricane Katrina because "[t]hey were drug-addicted" and "weren't going to get turned off from their source." O'Reilly added, "They were thugs."
  • Discussing Iraq during the January 24 edition of his radio show, O'Reilly claimed that "the Sunni and Shia want to kill each other. ... They have fun. This is -- they like this. This is what Allah tells them to do, and that's what they do." O'Reilly then asserted that the "essential mistake of the war" was failing to anticipate that "these people would act like savages, and they are." Later, O'Reilly said that he had not predicted that the Iraqis "were going to act like savages in the aftermath of Saddam [Hussein]," and added: "[N]ow, Iran, we know they're savages."
  • On the March 12 edition of his Fox News show, The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly blamed what he referred to as the "compassion crowd" of "open borders, blanket amnesty," for the "chaotic immigration system" that "directly caused the deaths" of several children -- whose immigration status O'Reilly said he did not know -- in a March 7 fire in the Bronx.
  • Attacking two Denver newspaper columnists over their remarks about him or Fox News, O'Reilly called Rocky Mountain News television critic Dusty Saunders a "creep" and labeled Denver Post TV critic Joanne Ostrow a "far-left ideologue" before dispatching one of his producers to stalk her and conduct an ambush interview.

Sean Hannity

  • On the April 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Hannity attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for his remark during an April 19 press conference that "the [Iraq] war is lost." Hannity said to former Republican vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp: "I think [Reid is] a propaganda minister for our enemies. He's emboldening our enemies, and he's taking away the morale of our troops. They're out there fighting that war, and he said it's lost."
  • On the January 10 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, while discussing Democrats' unfavorable reaction to President Bush's then-forthcoming speech, in which he proposed to send more than 20,000 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, Hannity said, "[T]o be honest about this, I'm convinced that some of these left-wingers, like [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-MA], and some of these other groups -- they're not going to be happy until we have a repeat of ... mass slaughter."
  • During a discussion on the November 30, 2006, edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity suggested that then-incoming U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-MN) reported intention to use a copy of the Quran during the ceremonial photo op on the day he is sworn in was the same as using the "Nazi bible" Mein Kampf.
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