On the September 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely accused Media Matters for America of quoting radio host Bill Bennett out of context, describing us as a “Democrat [sic] hack website.”
According to Limbaugh, Media Matters reproduced only the following segment of Bennett's September 28 comments:
BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.
Limbaugh's charge is false. In exposing Bennett's comments, Media Matters reproduced the entire quote, including the segments that Limbaugh claimed had been omitted.
During the program, Limbaugh played a segment of Bennett's September 28 radio show, stopping immediately after the statement that has provoked controversy: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Limbaugh then falsely claimed that "[t]hat last sentence is what appeared. From this whole call, that last sentence is what appeared. ... But what he says after this is even better, and it also wasn't reported." In fact, Bennett's subsequent statement that it “would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do,” was faithfully reproduced in Media Matters' post.
Limbaugh later exclaimed that Bennett “should have been applauded,” then claimed that his statement would be taken out of context and challenged Media Matters to post his comments. Limbaugh's comments, with their full context, follow.
From the September 30 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: This Democrat hack website, which has become a source authority for the liberal media, puts an out-of-context, incomplete version of what Bennett said. And of course, this place is required reading of the staff of Senator Harry Reid [D-NV] and Ted Kennedy [D-MA] and the mainstream press. Oh, look! Look what Bennett said the other day! Bam, here come their statements. And then, of course, the media said, “Ohhh, what do you think about what Bennett --” Blah, blah, blah.
[clip of Bennett's September 28 statement]
BENNETT: One of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --
CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either. I don't think it is either, because first of all, I think there's just too much that you don't know. But I do know it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down.
LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape! That last sentence is what appeared. From this whole call, that last sentence is what appeared. Have you heard to this point Bill Clint -- Bill advocating this? He's been disputing this whole theory, set forth in a book called Freakonomics. He's been disputing it, he's been saying it's tricky, you don't go there. Yeah, you could do this, but this is not the way we're gonna deal with abortion. But what he says after this is even better, and it also wasn't reported.
LIMBAUGH: But the way that this hack little website works is to take a comment like this, take it out of context, put it up there. The mainstream media, rather than listen to Bill Bennett, or me, or any of us. I mean, you don't need a secret password to listen to this program. It's radio, you can turn it on, turn to the station in your town that carries it, and bammo, there it is. That's all you have to do. They don't do that. They go to this wacko, hack, George Soros-funded website to get the version of what was said on the Bennett show or this show or anything else and then they go to town with it. And it's an operation set up to do just this because they're paranoid and scared to death of the triumph of the new media over the old media and the destruction of their monopoly. And rather than get in the pit here and have it out with us issue by issue, story by story, they try to discredit and destroy the reputations of those who happen to be kicking their ass from one end of this country to the other. And that's where they are continuing to work, and that's where they to fail, because we're not going to let each other hang out to dry on something like this.
LIMBAUGH: This is the bite. He's trying to make a point to this caller. If you want to talk about it this way, here's a point you could make. And this is what was stated. Now, Mike, I want you to stop it once again right after he says “your crime rate would go down.” We just have a couple quick lines, and this is what this firestorm is all about:
BENNETT: But I do know it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down.
LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape. Bam. Now, if you just hear that, whoa, gee, what in the world got in -- what's he saying here? What in the world? Doesn't he know that this is gonna -- doesn't he know people aren't gonna -- doesn't he know that he's setting himself up here? Listen to what he said next. That was not reported:
BENNETT: That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do. But your crime rate would go down. So, these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
LIMBAUGH: He's just saying, let's not get sidetracked on debating abortion on whether it will do this for the economy or that for the crime rate or -- it's silly. It's a matter of morality and life. Folks, what he said should have been applauded. What he said should reverberate.
We just had a story. I mentioned it yesterday. An abortion doctor is Little Rock is urging evacuees from Hurricane Katrina to come get their abortions now. He will do it free. Who are the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina? Well, according to the media and the pictures we've seen, they're all poor blacks. So we've got an abortion doctor in Little Rock advocating, asking, promoting, suggesting, inviting Katrina evacuees to come have their abortions now, free. Be easier to than to wait for the third trimester.
I told you about this story yesterday, and I said, you know what? There's a word to describe this, it's called racism. It's racism. This guy, this abortion doctor in Arkansas is the man who actually said what the left wants you to think Bill Bennett said. This abortion doctor is actually doing it. This guy put out a call. You black ladies, you black women who are pregnant, who evacuated Katrina, come to my office in Arkansas, and I will abort your baby. That, my friends, is racism.* That is somebody actually doing what these guys are claiming that Bill Bennett advocated.
Now, what's gonna happen, and I did this on purpose because I want you to all watch for this. What I just said -- Bill Bennett should be applauded -- that will be the quote from me on this site sometime later today or tomorrow or next week. And they will come after me. And I did this on purpose, to illustrate how this happens. You have heard everything I've said. There will be a full transcript of what I've just said on my website. They will not read my website. They will not listen to this program. They'll take whatever this little website that Soros funds, however they take what I just said out of context, put it on this website and the next thing you know, CNN's gonna be interviewing Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the rest of these guys are gonna be demanding that I be canned, fired, whatever -- even though I can't be, they're gonna demand it somehow. And you watch. I said Bill Bennett should be applauded. Yep, he should be applauded for the whole context of his remarks. He is trying to tell people here that abortion is a moral thing and all these tricks that we're gonna come up with to beat the abortion battle on economics and numbers and crime miss the point. Now, you've all heard me say this, but you also heard me sneak in there Bill Bennett should be applauded. Let's see how this gets -- you think I'm right about this, Mr. Snerdley? Snerdley says he knows I'm right. So let's just see.
This happened to me once before. This site actually quoted me as saying that Cindy Sheehan lied about having a son.** And Cindy Sheehan lied -- they reported that I lied when I said Cindy Sheehan didn't have a son, and didn't have son that died in Iraq. And this ended up all over cable TV for a couple days. Does Limbaugh really believe this? Has something has happened to Limbaugh's mind? Well, I didn't say it. If you take it out of context -- you take it out of context and add a couple of twists to it, it can make some people who didn't hear it think that it was said. Same thing here with what's happening to Bennett.