Discussing the November 15 Democratic presidential debate, which is scheduled to be moderated by CNN host Wolf Blitzer, Rush Limbaugh again suggested during the November 13 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show that the Clintons were somehow involved in the death of Vince Foster, former Clinton deputy White House counsel. Limbaugh stated, “We know Wolf's already got a reservation he's not aware of to Fort Marcy Park” -- the site in suburban Northern Virginia where Foster committed suicide. As Media Matters for America has noted (here, here, here, here, and here), Limbaugh has a history of invoking Fort Marcy Park, despite multiple official investigations that determined Foster committed suicide.
Limbaugh later claimed that “the Clinton Inc. war room today warn[ed] Wolf Blitzer” that " 'he'd better not do any personal-attack, [Tim] Russert-type questions Thursday night at the debate in Las Vegas.' Or else." Limbaugh added: “They didn't say 'or else,' but if you warned him, what do you mean? ... I speculated earlier that Wolf may want to beg off the debate because who's going to take care of his children?”
As the source of his claim that the Clinton camp had “warned” Blitzer, Limbaugh cited an anonymously sourced blurb on the Drudge Report asserting that a “top Clinton insider” warned Blitzer not to “pull a 'Russert.' ” Blitzer has since stated that "[n]o one has pressured me. No one has threatened me. No one is trying to intimidate me. ... No one has even called me to try to pressure me or anything like that. ... I have not felt any pressure whatsoever," as Media Matters documented.
Later during the show, Limbaugh advised Blitzer to “get a cup,” stating: “Wolf, by the way, get a cup. I don't know that Wolf's listening. I know he listens some. If he's not listening, somebody tell Wolf to get a cup. I know people at CNN monitor this show. You people at Media Matters, I know you're listening. Tell Wolf to get a cup. Well, I could send him one, but I -- [sigh] -- I don't know if mine would fit him.”
As Media Matters noted, Limbaugh has himself claimed to have intimidated a reporter. During the October 15 broadcast of his show, Limbaugh claimed to have targeted an unnamed reporter who was writing “a cover story on me coming out of one of the big news magazines, and it was going to totally mischaracterize me and what I do and how I do it.” Limbaugh continued: "[W]e found out who was writing it and made a couple phone calls to the person writing it. And we said, 'You know what? We're going to find out where your kids go to school. We're going to find out who you knocked up in high school. We're going to find out what drugs you used. We're going to find out where you go to drink and do -- we're gonna find out how you paid for your house. We're going to do -- and we're going to do exact -- and we're going to say that, you know what? You are no different than Al Goldstein. You both masturbate.' "
Limbaugh then claimed: “And the guy started screaming on the phone, just went -- 'You can't do that.' We said, 'Watch us.' And it changed the tone of the story by about 60 percent, I would say, from what it was going to be. But nobody does that to these people. Nobody does it to them. And that would be so much fun.”
From the November 13 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: So, planting questions with college kids, using pre-teenagers for health care ads, as in SCHIP, laundering money through Chinatown, and now threatening a member -- or warning a member of the media -- better not cross the line the Clintons have drawn when questioning Mrs. Clinton at the debate Thursday night in Las Vegas.
We'll come back and continue with all this right after this, so don't go away, folks.
LIMBAUGH: You know what Wolf ought to do at that debate on Thursday night? He ought to have a disclaimer prior to every question. “This question approved by Ann Lewis. This question approved by Bill Clinton. This question approved by Howard Wolfson. This question approved by Hillary Clinton herself. This question planted by Hillary Clinton herself.”
Here's the only safe line of questions for Wolf Blitzer to ask Hillary Clinton at the debate on Thursday night: “Mrs. Clinton, what points would you like to make this evening? Mrs. Clinton, do you need more time to make your points? Mrs. Clinton, what would you like to be asked about now, as we're nearing the end of the debate? Mrs. Clinton, have we asked the right questions to help you get your points across? Because frankly, we haven't understood a thing you've said tonight.” Well, better not throw that in there. We know Wolf's already got a reservation he's not aware of to Fort Marcy Park.
Greetings, and welcome back. [laughing] Can you believe this? There's a story -- of all places, The New Republic, the home of fake, phony soldier, anti-war and Iraq stories, has a piece -- let's see. I guess -- it's on the website, by Michael Crowley, and it's called “Bunker Hillary.” And this is a very liberal publication.
“On June 1st, The New York Times published a front-page article 'One Place Where Obama Goes Elbow to Elbow.' The feature detailed Barack Obama's love for pickup basketball, his jersey-tugging style, even the time he hit a long game-winning shot after getting fouled. The Obama camp clearly welcomed the humanizing glimpse at Obama's life. His rivals, probably not so much. In an ordinary campaign, that might have been it. But this is no ordinary campaign -- not when Hillary Clinton is a candidate. So, the Clinton team let the Times reporter, Patrick Healy, who covers the Hillary beat, know about their 'annoyance' with the story, as Healy later put it. If grumbling about a basketball story seems excessive, it's also typical of the Clinton media machine.”
And Michael Crowley goes on to detail the efforts by the Clinton Inc. war room to shape and intimidate reporters and their coverage. And then he adds this. “Despite all the grumbling, however, the press has showered Hillary with strikingly positive coverage. 'It's one of the few times I've seen journalists respect someone for beating the hell out of them,' says a veteran Democrat [sic] media operative. So far, the strategery has worked brilliantly. In the current climate, where the mainstream media is under attack from both conservatives and liberals, Clinton may have picked the right moment to get tough with the press." We shall see.
This stuff works well when nobody knows it's happening, but now the press is starting to talk about it. And what's also amazing is the Clinton campaign is starting to brag about it. I mean, when you call [Internet gossip Matt] Drudge and say, “Hey, we just warned Wolf Blitzer that he'd better not be tough on Hillary, he'd better not ask these personal-attack questions. He'd better not do a Russert. That he'd better stick to the issues,” I mean, this is arrogance personified.
You know who I really fear for? Today, I have real fear for this young college student in Grinnell, Iowa, who is out there admitting that she was a plant and that they asked her to be a plant. Remember, the campaign's denying all -- well, they're not denying it, but Hillary said she didn't know anything about it. The student's name is -- I hope I pronounce this right -- Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff. And this is this morning on CNN, the network where Wolf Blitzer works, the network hosting the debate on Thursday night. Wolf Blitzer having today been warned by the Clinton war room to keep it right. So she was appearing, and this is the -- this is what she said about the planted question to Hillary.
Let me do some -- a little analysis here on timing for all of this stuff to have happened to Mrs. Clinton now. What, are we into our third week of this? We're into our third week of a slow bleed, and it all started -- I think -- I can't prove it -- but I think it all started on this program the day of the debate in Philadelphia at Drexel University when I read a story in the Associated Press talking about how radioactive the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in New York was for Mrs. Clinton.
The reporter said, “This is radioactive.” I said, “Well, ask her about it.” The story was about how nobody's asking her about it because it's radioactive. I said, “Ask her about it.” That night, she was asked about it by [debate moderator] Tim Russert, and she flubbed it. She flip-flopped it. She blew it big time in ways that, you know, we don't need to recount.
On a conference call later the next day, a bunch of Clinton supporters were discussing all this -- how to strategerize around it and what to do about it, and according to The Hill newspaper, one of them even said “Russert should be shot,” and then said, “I shouldn't say that on a conference call.”
Now, also in the process of this, folks, we have dealt perhaps -- perhaps -- too soon to say -- but we have dealt a damaging, perhaps fatal blow to Governor Eliot Spitzer's [D-NY] plan to give illegals driver's licenses. So we got a twofer there. We got Mrs. Clinton off the highway. The guardrails didn't protect her. She's in the SUV, and it's rolling over there. She had to get Clinton out to start defending her. Then, of course, came the “didn't tip the waitresses,” then comes the planted questions. Then Bill Clinton says, “Boys, they're ganging up on her here.” Then Mrs. Clinton had to say that she was a woman and that they're attacking her because she's a woman. Then she says, “No, I can handle it. I'm tough. I'm your girl” -- and blah blah blah. You know all of this.
Now, we've got this ongoing bleed with the student and planted questions, and the Clinton Inc. war room today warning Wolf Blitzer that “he'd better not gang up on her. He'd better not do any personal-attack, Russert-type questions Thursday night at the debate in Las Vegas.” Or else. They didn't say “or else,” but if you warned him, what do you mean? You know, I'm -- I speculated earlier that Wolf may want to beg off the debate because who's going to take care of his children? Just like these diplomats at the State Department don't want to go to Iraq. Because who's going to take care of their children?
Wolf, by the way, get a cup. I don't know that Wolf's listening. I know he listens some. If he's not listening, somebody tell Wolf to get a cup. I know people at CNN monitor this show. You people at Media Matters, I know you're listening. Tell Wolf to get a cup. Well, I could send him one, but I -- [sigh] -- I don't know if mine would fit him.
But nevertheless, let's look at the timing of this, ladies and gentlemen. Here we are shortly before Thanksgiving, and all this is happening. Up till the past three weeks have been smooth sailing. Mrs. Clinton reporting all this marvelous fundraising superiority. Magnified, big leads in the polls wherever you look. Now all of a sudden this little slow bleed is happening, and it shows no signs of abating.
Anne C. Smith is an intern at Media Matters for America.