Pandemic: Limbaugh's Obama Derangement Syndrome spreads through conservative media

Numerous conservative media figures have followed Rush Limbaugh's lead in making increasingly dire predictions about the consequences that policies sought by Obama and other progressives might have for the country.

As Media Matters for America has documented, since President Obama's inauguration, "Number One voice for conservatism" Rush Limbaugh has made numerous ominous, even apocalyptic claims about the impact policies pursued by President Obama and other progressives might have on the United States, often while invoking fears of rising socialism, communism, and tyranny. For example, on the February 12 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh "thank[ed]" Obama for “doing the job that everybody expects of you, taking every tradition and institution that defined this country's greatness and trying to rip it to shreds.” Similarly, on March 18, Limbaugh claimed that “everyone in the White House” is "[p]erfectly timed, perfectly programmed, perfectly educated to destroy capitalism ... and they're in the process of doing it." And on March 30, Limbaugh stated, “Based on what we've seen with General Motors and the banks, if [Obama] fails, America is saved. Barack Obama's policies and their failure is the only hope we've got to maintain the America of our founding.” Over the past month, other prominent conservative voices have followed Limbaugh's lead in making increasingly dire predictions about the consequences that policies sought by Obama and other progressives might have for the country.

This alarmism is part of a recent eruption of extremist rhetoric in the conservative media; as Media Matters has noted, since January, conservatives in the media have also warned of impending socialism, fascism, communism, Nazism, McCarthyism, and Marxism, or used such language to describe Obama or other Democrats. Moreover, since Obama's inauguration, conservative media figures have asserted or suggested that U.S. sovereignty may give way to a one-world government and have warned their audiences that Obama will seize their guns. And Fox News has actively promoted what it has branded “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.”

Sean Hannity

  • On the April 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Sean Hannity said, “Robert Gates ought to resign, and resign now. Because if Robert Gates wants to preside over the single dumbest defense scale-down in American history that puts us on a pre-9-11 footing, I would not want that on my watch. I wouldn't accept it on my watch. And for him to be, you know, wanting this position more than standing up for what's right is frankly surprising to me, and I thought that was one of the better choices of Obama.”
  • On the April 7 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity compared the rhetoric of Obama to that of Franklin Roosevelt and asked, “Was that rhetoric similar in terms of the class warfare and the idea that America's no longer the land of the free and the land of opportunity, but the land of the nanny state, where the government will take care of all -- take away all your fears?”
  • On the April 6 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity falsely claimed that Obama plans to cut the defense budget, saying, "[H]ow dangerous is this road we're now on? You know, overseas contingency operation and you know -- what's the other one? -- man-caused disasters, if we believe [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano. How dangerous is the mentality? We're going to cut defense." Earlier in the broadcast, Hannity said, “President Obama's trip to Europe culminated this morning with a speech that could have disastrous implications for America as it reveals a pre-9-11 appeasement mentality and approach to national security that is a threat to the United States.”
  • On the March 30 edition of his Fox News program, while discussing the Obama administration's auto bailout plan with syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris, Hannity said, “The federal government -- and I don't think I overstate this for our audience -- is destroying our economic system as we currently know it. You have written that it's socialism, and it's mismanaged socialism.”
  • Also on the March 30 edition of his Fox News program, Hannity said of the Obama administration's auto bailout plan, "[T]his is just the beginning. The administration is on a mission to hijack capitalism in favor of collectivism, to turn health care into a nationalized affair, and to redistribute the wealth of America. The Bolsheviks have already arrived, and they're here."
  • A March 26 Hannity promotion asked, “Is the budget a way to completely control our lives? And could it destroy us?”
  • On the March 24 edition of his radio show, Hannity said, “If the government takes too much money and nationalizes everything, I'm telling you, there are gonna be dire consequences, because we're gonna -- just like if it was a terror attack against America, Americans will get hurt.”
  • On the March 25 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said to guest Newt Gingrich, “So if we put all these things together -- that they control executive pay, that they can take over firms, retroactively tax people or target individuals as they did -- you used the term 'dictatorship.' That moves America towards a dictatorship?” Gingrich responded, “Look, it absolutely moves you towards a political dictatorship.”
  • On the March 16 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said, “If we can't use the term 'war on terror,' if we can't use the term 'enemy combatants,' it sounds to me like in many ways, even linguistically, we have literally, you know, surrendered.”

Glenn Beck

  • On the April 6 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Glenn Beck warned that Obama “will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun. He will make them more expensive; he'll tax them out of existence. He will because he has said he would. He will tax your gun or take your gun away one way or another.”
  • On the March 30 edition of his Fox News program, Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and other Democratic leaders as vampires, and said, “The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy.” Beck then suggested “driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers.”
  • On the March 27 edition of his Fox News program, Beck said, “Yesterday, the Senate passed a watered-down version of the AmeriCorps bill, a.k.a. the GIVE Act, which apparently we have problems with now. It basically indoctrinates your child into community service through the federal government.”
  • On the March 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Beck said, “I read an article on Bloomberg last night that said the Manchurian Candidate couldn't destroy us faster than Barack Obama. If you were planning a sleeper to come in and become the president of the United States and dismantle us and take us down, this is how he would do it.”
  • On the March 2 edition of his Fox News program, Beck claimed that Obama's proposal to reduce the tax rate at which families earning more than $250,000 per year can take itemized deductions (including charitable giving) to 28 percent “involves enslaving people” and is “evil.”

Dick Morris

  • On the April 9 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Morris reiterated his false claim that Obama ceded U.S. sovereignty to international economic regulators at the G-20 summit, and said, “What has been driving me crazy in the last few days is that last week, the president basically gave away our economic sovereignty to Europe.”
  • On the April 6 edition of Hannity, Morris falsely claimed that in signing the G-20 communiqué establishing a new Financial Stability Board (FSB) at the Group of 20 economic summit in London, Obama had ceded U.S. sovereignty to international economic regulators: “Basically, from an economic standpoint, he's repealed [the Declaration of Independence]. We no longer have economic sovereignty.”
  • On the April 3 edition of America's Newsroom, Morris falsely claimed of the FSB, "[I]t effectively ceded massive areas of American sovereignty to Europe and to the global economic mavens." Morris later claimed that “this literally is a massive surrender of sovereignty to an essentially European body.”
  • On the March 31 edition of Fox News' Your World, Morris discussed his theory that Obama ceded sovereignty at the G-20 summit, and said, “Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case.”

Michael Savage

  • On the March 20 edition of The Savage Nation, Savage said, “Obama has a plan to force children into a paramilitary domestic army. It was exposed yesterday on WorldNetDaily.”
  • On the March 9 broadcast of The Savage Nation, Savage declared that the American people are “watching a dictatorship emerge” out of Obama's presidency and added: “I think it is time to start talking about impeachment. Somebody's got to get this guy under control. He's out of control.”

Frank Gaffney

  • On the April 7 broadcast of KSFO's The Lee Rodgers Program, Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney said of Obama's call to seek “broader engagement” with the Muslim world based on “mutual respect,” “It seems as though how Barack Obama spells respect is S-U-B-M-I-S-S-I-O-N.”
  • On March 17, Gaffney wrote in The Washington Times, “President Obama on Friday reiterated for the umpteenth time his determination to develop a 'new relationship' with the Muslim world. On this occasion, the audience were the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Unfortunately, it increasingly appears that, in so doing, he will be embracing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood -- an organization dedicated to promoting the theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls Shariah and that has the self-described mission of 'destroying Western civilization from within.' ”

Other conservative cable figures

  • On the April 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly asked, “Is President Obama selling out America? That is the subject of this evening's 'Talking Points Memo.' ” O'Reilly later added, “Key question: Where does Barack Obama stand? Are the right-wing pundits correct? Is he down with the global-justice jihad?”
  • On the 31 March edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs said of the Pay for Performance Act, “We are moving toward a combination of corporate power and political power that is so disturbingly similar to what we witnessed in Italy in the 1930s that it's not funny.”
  • On the March 31 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox Business Network contributor Stuart Varney said of the Obama administration's plan to extend further federal government aid to GM, "[N]ow you're in the position where the government somehow has to coerce or force us all into buying the small cars that it insists Detroit puts out."
  • On the March 24 edition of Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano discussed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's financial bailout plan and said, “I would now argue that the Obama administration is trashing the Constitution in order to micromanage the economy, Soviet-style. Remember when the Soviet Union managed the economy from Moscow? There were empty shelves on all of their stores, and nobody prospered, and there was no incentive to get ahead. Without the profit motive -- without the opportunity to get ahead, your economy will collapse, and Tim Geithner should know that.”
  • On the March 4 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough asserted, “This crisis that we're in is a crisis of where we spent too much and borrowed too much. By Republicans, right? So the Democrats' answer to that is spend more and borrow more.” He later added that “both parties have -- are bankrupting us. They're moving us closer to European-style socialism, according to Newsweek. That's not a right-wing claim, it's the truth.”

Other conservative radio hosts

  • On the April 6 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, radio host Steve Malzberg said of Obama, “I would think that most independent-minded people would understand what this man is all about, that this man does not love this country, that this man is trying to do what Hugo Chavez has done to Venezuela.”
  • During the April 5 edition of the syndicated program The McLaughlin Group, radio host Monica Crowley claimed the G-20 communiqué is the “the first step to abrogating American sovereignty here, because ... it is going to allow European bureaucrats to step in, not just on the hedge fund regulation and the other explicit things that they agreed to, but buried deep down in this communiqué was the ability for European bureaucrats sitting in Brussels to decide what kind of executive compensation American executives should -- ” , at which point Financial Times U.S. managing editor Chrystia Freeland interjected, “No, there was no authority like that there, Monica.” Crowley responded, “I read it in the communiqué this morning.”
  • On the April 6 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, guest host Mark Steyn said of the White House's accidental distribution of a phone-sex telephone number, "[I]t seems to be the rest of the world getting nasty and we're the ones hanging upside down in the bondage dungeon being flogged and humiliated by the rest of the planet."
  • On the April 1 edition of Hannity, nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin said of “the Obama plan” for the economy, “I view it as economic child abuse. I've been calling it that for the longest time because our children are being compelled to work for generations that will be dead for money that's already spent. Their opportunities will be limited. Their liberty will be limited. And we're enslaving them to a future that our ancestors didn't create for us.”
  • On the March 18 broadcast of The Lee Rodgers Program, Rodgers discussed “Obama's relationship with the Islamic world” and said, “I don't make any bones about it. I think the guy's out to sell us out. I really do.”
  • On the March 10 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Lars Larson said of Obama, “A lot of us want him to fail in most of what he's asking the country to do because we view it as an existential threat.”

Scarborough is not the only NBC-affiliated media figure to echo the gloom and doom rhetoric. On the March 23 edition of CNBC's Street Signs, anchor Erin Burnett said that a proposed tax on recipients of bonuses whose employers have received government bailouts “to some echo[es] the Russian and French Revolutions.” She continued, “Here's a question: Is America starting to look like Venezuela?” And on the March 3 edition of NBC's Today, CNBC host Jim Cramer asserted that Obama has a “radical agenda” and declared that Obama's budget “basically put a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life.” He later claimed that Obama's policies are “the most, greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president.”