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Wednesday, January 7, 2015
NewsBusters' Double Standard on Context
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters has long fretted over conservatives purportedly being taken out of context while having no problem taking statements by liberals out of context.

That double standard shines through again in a Jan. 6 NewsBusters post by Jack Coleman:

Context is all, especially in media, unless you're a liberal intent on smearing the most prominent voice in radio who also happens to be conservative. At that point, context becomes an inconvenience quickly to be jettisoned.

Two days before Christmas, Rush Limbaugh was talking about the leaked Sony emails when he said something that proceeded to make news during the traditionally slow news drought of the holidays.

After referring to a specific email from Sony co-chair Amy Pascal suggesting that black British actor Idris Elba portray James Bond after actor Daniel Craig's contract playing the super-spy ends, Limbaugh dismissed the suggestion by pointing out that Bond was "white and Scottish, period." (audio)

Given the faux outrage to follow, you'd think Limbaugh lit up a huge cross at the entrance to Sony studios.

On his radio show yesterday, Limbaugh played audio clips of media reaction of his remarks and pointed out what critics neglected to mention that he also said[.]

Actually, it's Coleman who's selectively editing here. The reason why Limbaugh was criticized as racist for his remarks was because Limbaugh himself said it was.

In the original clip, Limbaugh admitted that "it's probably racist to even point this out" about Elba and James Bond. That's context worth mentioning; why didn't Coleman think it was?

Instead, Coleman tried to find a way to bolster one of Limbaugh's weaker arguments:

Undoubtedly not it's safe to say. But isn't Limbaugh muddying the waters by suggesting that outrage would ensue if white actors were cast to portray historical figures who were black, such as Obama and Mandela, whereas Bond is a fictional character, so what difference does it make?

Apparently it meant a great deal in 1990, Limbaugh pointed out, when the Actors' Equity union initially refused to allow white actor Jonathan Pryce to portray a fictional Eurasian pimp in "Miss Saigon" on Broadway, as Pryce already had in London. (audio). The union quickly backed down and reversed its decision.

Does anyone actually believe that Americans have become less politically correct since then?

But ethnicity is arguably a more significant factor in the "Miss Saigon" role than it is in James Bond. And as playwright David Henry Hwang points out, there is a legitimate issue of diversity since 80 percent of the roles on Broadway stages are taken by white actors. Further, the protest had an effect: the producer of "Miss Saigon" on Broadway ensured that all actors who took that role after Pryce left it were of Asian descent.

Coleman didn't mention any of that, of course -- but then, his sense of context is highly selective.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:56 PM EST

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