WASHINGTON, March 22, 2012—This may be the end of Rush Limbaugh, if Media Matters and the Liberal left have their way. Media Matters was founded by journalist David Brock, a Democratic political operative. Brock created the group with the intent to use its bully pulpit to discredit the Republican Party, its members, and any and all conservative media.
All of this is perfectly legitimate. Media Matters’ tactics, however, are less than honorable.
Media Matters for America is a non-profit group, meaning that it enjoys certain tax credits and benefits in its self-described quest as “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”
Brock’s most recent actions are two radio advertisements that will air in eight cities in which Limbaugh’s statements about Georgetown University student, and 30-year-old adult, Sandra Fluke, are featured prominently. The statements were made in response to FLuke’s demand that all employers, public and private, regardless of religious affiliation, provide their female employees with health insurance that covers birth control pills and devices free of charge.
Publicly testifying for an extremely controversial Obama Administration policy put Fluke directly in Limbaugh’s sites, and it attenuated her legal protection as a private citizen. It is well reported that she is not just “a student” but also a liberal activist.
Brock’s actions have nothing to do with Fluke, or Limbaugh’s statements that were no more or less objectionable than things routinely uttered by Bill Maher, Michael Moore, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, and others who have slung arrows of hatred at the right. They’ve called women and conservatives all manner of epithets, as in Maher’s now infamous reference to Sarah Palin as a “c***t”:
“The bit I did about Palin using the word c-, one of the biggest laughs in my act, I did it all over the country, not one person ever registered disapproval, and believe me, audiences are not afraid to let you know. Because it was a routine where that word came in at just the right moment. Context is very important, and it’s also important to remember that stand-up comedy is the final frontier of free speech.”
Maher hides behind his title of comedian, but he is no less an opinion maker and talk show host than Limbaugh and therefore needs to be held to the same standards.
Ed Schultz called conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham a “slut.” He was forced to apologize, but conservative talk show hosts did not demand that advertisers run for the hills, as Media Matters is demanding that advertisers boycott Rush Limbaugh’s show.
A spokeswoman for Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Limbaugh’s show to nearly 600 radio stations nationally, said Media Matters has gone beyond criticism of Limbaugh’s words to an attempt to silence him and intimidate advertisers.
“This is not about women,” said Rachel Nelson, Premiere spokeswoman. “It’s not about ethics and it’s not about the nature of our public discourse. It’s a direct attack on America’s guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech. It’s essentially a call for censorship masquerading as high-minded indignation.”
Angelo Carusone of Media Matters says that ad time is being purchased in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Macon, Georgia, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. These cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Limbaugh, or because of perceptions that Limbaugh may be vulnerable to cancellation in these radio markets.
Carusone says that, as with the campaign against Glenn Beck that led to his separation from Fox Television, by keeping track of Limbaugh’s advertisers, Media Matters hopes to influence station managers “market by market,” making it not worth the hassle to them to air the show.
Media Matters, Brock, Carusone and the Democratic/Liberal party members may take Limbaugh down, First Amendment Rights be damned. They aren’t the government, after all, and so aren’t obligated to treat the ideas of free political speech and the marketplace of ideas with any deference. They won’t, however, silence the voice of Conservative media or opinion.
Popular host and former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is launching his own syndicated radio show in April that will air at the same time as Limbaugh’s.
L. Brent Bozell, president and founder of the Media Research Center, has reached out to MSNBC chief Phil Griffin to point out what can only be viewed as the hypocrisy of Media Matters for America and liberal media’s attacks on conservative counterparts.
Citing objectionable things said in the past by Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton, both MSNBC show hosts, Bozell has said “this isn’t about what Rush said last week, it’s about roaring hypocrisy and it’s about censorship.”
Bozell has launched istandwithrush.org to show the group’s support for Limbaugh, who Bozell says “has been singled out and condemned across the board by the national media.”
In his op-ed on FoxNews.com Bozell says that “liberals want this government-mandate controversy to be not about religious liberty, which is devastating, but about contraceptives, which works in their favor.”
“To the Left,” he writes, “this is simply an opportunity to put their attacks on religious liberty in a feminist frame, and an opportunity to try and shut down Limbaugh. It is all about censorship and hypocrisy.”
“There’s a great sense of selective outrage that is going on here,” Bozell says.
(This article was written using Associated Press and wire reports.)
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