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Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh went on a scathing attack of news reporters today for publicizing racist-sounding remarks he never made – and he’s demanding retractions and apologies from every journalist who repeated the “libelous” statements.
While Al Sharpton and some NFL players try to block Limbaugh’s partial acquisition of the St. Louis Rams, claiming he’s used racially charged rhetoric, Limbaugh says he never made the inflammatory comments.
The following is one of the alleged quotes media have attributed to Limbaugh:
I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.
Limbaugh called the statement “outrageous slander” on yesterday’s program.
“Slavery – indentured servitude, whatever you want to call it – is abominable, particularly in a free country,” he said. “If I had said what they say I said, I would be gone. There would be nobody around.”
On today’s show, Limbaugh declared, “The idea that somebody could reportedly say, ‘Hey! Slavery is great. You know what, it keeps the streets safer at night!’ in 1998 and it’s only now surfacing?
“I guarantee you the Clinton war room would have been all over it in 1998. This quote sat dormant for 11 years? And all of the sudden it shows up in vengeance in conjunction with a report that I am a minority participant in a bid for the St. Louis Rams?”
NFL players association chief DeMaurice Smith, Al Sharpton, some players and sportswriters are protesting the possible acquisition and citing the alleged quotes as reason for their objections. In an Oct. 12 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Sharpton accused Limbaugh of being “divisive” and “anti-NFL.”
Today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded by saying the league doesn’t want owners making racially charged statements, according to the New York Daily News.
“I’ve said many times before we’re all held to a high standard here, and I think divisive comments are not what the NFL is all about,” Goodell said while in Boston for the NFL owners’ meeting today. “I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL, absolutely not.”
But Limbaugh said he’s disappointed that “otherwise responsible journalists are believing a bunch of garbage.”
“We’ve gone back, we have looked at everything we have,” he said. “There is not even an inkling that any words in this quote are accurate. It’s outrageous, but it’s totally predictable.”
“101 People Who Are Really Screwing America”
A blogger identified only as “Cobra” attributed another controversial statement to Limbaugh, allegedly from April 23, 1998:
You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed.
“He’s been posting it all over the place, and he claims he got it from a book that was written by some guy,” Limbaugh said. “We know that the guy that wrote the book did not source the quote. Nobody can source it because it was never made. I never said it.”
Newsbusters revealed the quote’s Web source appears to be from Wikipedia. The quote has been removed and replaced several times since 2005. The blogger first mentioned the alleged quote on Sept. 9, 2005, and cited the Wikipedia entry as his source. Wikipedia sourced the quote to a book titled, “101 People Who are Really Screwing America” (2006) by Jack Huberman.
The Wikipedia entry did not provide a transcript link to Limbaugh’s show with the citation.
While the talk host criticized journalists and the website that bills itself as an “online encyclopedia,” Wikipedia editors were busy discussing their strategy for handling the controversy.
Wikipedia editors discuss quotations attributed to Rush Limbaugh
One Wikipedia editor wrote, “Rush Limbaugh about fifteen minutes ago claimed wikipedia to be the source of a widely publi[c]ized campaign against him, and the source of untrue quotations regarding the St Louis Rams. He has said he is bring [sic] legal action to bear against all the parties responsible, which is bound to include the wikimedia foundation. We need to quickly provide rock solid sources for the statements or we need to probably get them oversighted and removed asap. I propose we get some admin intervention. … BTW, the quotes as they are now are almost certainly a violation of WP:BLP [Wikipedia Biographies of Living Persons].”
Limbaugh claims numerous media personalities, including the following reporters, are guilty of falsely attributing the quote to him: Rick Sanchez of CNN, David Shuster of MSNBC, Tamron Hall of MSNBC, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press, Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dave Zirin of The Nation, sports writer Jason Whitlock and political commentator James Carville.
“Everybody in the world knows you don’t believe anything out of Wikipedia!” Limbaugh declared. “Anybody can go in there and put anything on it they want unless you succeed in getting your site locked. Wikipedia is as irresponsible as anything else. Anybody can post anything they want on there. But these are the professionals. They’re supposed to check this stuff.”
Limbaugh tore into the reporters for not properly sourcing the alleged quotes and questioned their professionalism.
“And these are the people that tell us that they are the professionals, that they’re the ones we should trust to weed out what’s garbage and what’s not garbage in the sewer they say that is the Internet? They are the sewer,” he said. “They are the sewer, and they are in the midst of it. They are waste, and they are promulgating waste all over the place.”
Limbaugh accused the media of repeating fabricated statements because “it fits their already prejudiced agenda.”
He is demanding that each of the media outlets produce the source of the alleged quotes and explain where they got them, or produce a retraction and apology.
“They ought to be ashamed of themselves, to call themselves professionals,” he said. “They’re nothing but hacks. … These people are scum. They are literally professional scum, and they’re responsible in many ways for the deteriorating standards and quality of journalism.”