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Sunday, November 1, 2009
MRC Deceptively Defends Limbaugh
Topic: Media Research Center

We've detailed how the Media Research Center has led in defending Rush Limbaugh, largely through obfuscation and selective reporting. The MRC cranks up the obfuscation factor with a new report that blurs the distinction between true and apparently false statements attributed to Limbaugh.

After leading with an excerpt from its previous Limbaugh report, the new report singles out sports columnists and bloggers who repeated a pair of statements apparently falsely attributed to Limbaugh: that "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," and that Martin Luther King assassin James Earl Ray should receive the Medal of Honor. But in denouncing them, the MRC mixes in racially charged statements by Limbaugh that are undeniably true.

For instance, the MRC highlights this statement by Daily Beast writer Max Blumenthal:

But given Limbaugh’s well-documented history of racial controversy, and Steele’s position as the Republican Party’s first African-American chairman, his apology is more significant than Gingrey’s. Limbaugh has, for example, mocked Obama as a “Halfrican-American” who should “become white“; he has called for a “posthumous Medal of Honor” for the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., James Earl Ray, and told an African-American caller, “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

But the "Halfrican-American" remark exists in audio form, and  the "Take that bone out of your nose" has not been challenged -- according to Snopes, Limbaugh acknowledges saying it (though he apparently did so in the 1970s prior to his current talk-radio career). Further, the MRC does not acknowledge that Blumenthal's post has since been corrected to remove the James Earl Ray remark, even though it has noted corrections by other writers making the claim.

Similarly, the MRC highlighted a post by San Francisco Chronicle blogger Zennie Abraham, narrowly focusing on one false quote (and noting that it's disputed) but carefully avoiding mention of the eight other Limbaugh quotes Abraham cited.

The MRC also highlighted USA Today blogger Sean Leahy's citing of the purpoted slavery quote -- and also statements that "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons" and Limbaugh's statements about Donovan McNabb. The MRC doesn't note that the latter quotes are both true, nor does it mention that the post has been corrected.

And there's the problem. By mixing in the true statements with the false ones, the MRC falsely suggests that all the statements are bogus.

Is that a bit of deliberate deception as part of running defense for Limbaugh? Probably. But it's also dishonest coming from a group that claims to do "research." A more honest approach would be to specifically state which statements it highlights that it's not challenging, or not to excerpt them at all.

Then again, the MRC isn't exactly noted for its scrupulously honest research, is it?


Posted by Terry K. at 1:18 AM EDT

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