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Brent Bozell: A Profile in Hypocrisy

The Media Research Center head denounces Martin Bashir, but couldn't be moved to condemn Rush Limbaugh's misogyny against Sandra Fluke -- which he's now saying wasn't that offensive at all.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/11/2013

Brent Bozell

In 2012, when Rush Limbaugh repeatedly denigrated Sandra Fluke for speaking out about birth control, Brent Bozell was a profile in cowardice, unable to work up any harsher criticism than "let’s all agree Limbaugh crossed a line" and even starting a short-lived "I Stand With Rush" website.

Which makes Bozell's whining about Martin Bashir's comments about Sarah Palin while invoking others' criticism of Limbaugh -- criticism he couldn't be bothered to make himself -- utterly hypocritical:

While the liberal networks all blew gaskets over Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a "slut," not one of them has covered Bashir's remarks. How's that for hypocrisy? Associated Press media reporter David Bauder filed at least three stories, but there was mostly silence outside of Fox News. The Washington Post and USA Today published nothing, and it only came up in The New York Times as a clause of a TV listing about the subjects of "Fox News Sunday." There was nothing on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR or PBS. CNN only touched on it once during its "New Day" morning show and once on its "Reliable Sources" journalism program.

One obvious answer for this blackout is that Limbaugh is far more popular in America than Bashir, who few watch. But another obvious answer is media liberals despise Limbaugh and Palin, and sympathize with Bashir and the audience that loves this kind of hate speech toward conservatives.

Not only is Bozell sympathetic to Limbaugh's views, his Media Research Center gave Limbaugh its very first "William F. Buckley, Jr. Award for Media Excellence" in 2007. By contrast, Bashir has received no similarly prestigious award from the MRC.

Bozell can't even claim to apply the same standard to all MSNBC hosts who said ugly things; when then-MSNBC host Don Imus insulted the Rutgers women's basketball team with a racial slur, Bozell conceded only that the remark was "stupid," then desperately tried to change the subject: "But where were these people when the subject was gangsta rap?"

Bozell couldn't possibly diss his buddy Limbaugh by doing something so gauche as criticizing something that so manifestly deserved criticism -- ideological loyalty is much more important to him than logical consistency, after all.

Bozell concluded his column by sneering, "There's a concept with which the folks at MSNBC are manifestly unfamiliar. Honor." Speak for yourself, Brent.

When Bashir ultimately resigned from MSNBC over the Palin remarks, Bozell chortled in a Media Research Center press release:

“The question here isn’t whether or not MSNBC will dispense with the hateful rhetoric it shamelessly peddles as ‘news’."

“The question is: Which vile character assassin will NBC/Comcast recruit to replace Martin Bashir? MSNBC is an absolute laughingstock. If you're not apologizing for your insults (Ed Schultz), you're resigning because of them (Bashir). And if you’re not smart enough to resign, they have to fire you (Alec Baldwin)."

“NBC is the network where civility goes to die. And Comcast: You own that indecency.”

Bozell knows all too well that if you never apologize, you never have to resign. Bozell has yet to acknowledge that he likened President Obama to a "skinny ghetto crackhead" two years ago, let alone apologize for it, and the vile insult certainly hasn't interrupted his appearances on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, where he voiced the smear.

Bozell is far from the only less-than-civil MRC worker. After all, he employs Matt Philbin, who heartily endorsed Limbaugh's denigration of Sandra Fluke and piled on with further denigration of his own. Most recently, Philbin indulged in homophobic slurs by baselessly labeling me a "faggot" for accurately quoting his sleazy Obama-Nazi comparisons. (Note: I'm not gay.)

If Bozell truly cared about civil political discourse, he would have more forcefully criticized Limbaugh's sleaze, and he would have sanctioned his employees for doing the same. Instead, he wimped out and created an "I Stand With Rush" website, where he ironically ranted: "Rush has apologized. But the radical left will never accept it because they despise him and want him off the air." Bozell, of course, wasn't nearly as receptive to Bashir's apology as he was to Limbaugh's.

Civility died at the MRC a long time ago, and Bozell owns that indecency.

He also owns the MRC's whitewashing of Limbaugh's attack on Fluke. In a Dec. 3 MRC "Media Reality Check," Geoffrey Dickens asserted that Limbaugh's Fluke-bashing was a "joke," albeit a "crude" one. ("Crude" is now officially the harshest thing anyone at the MRC has said about Limbaugh's tirade.) Dickens then went on to complain that Bashir's remarks didn't get the coverage on the broadcast networks that Limbaugh's remarks did.

In focusing only on that one remark, however, Dickens pushes down the memory hold the fact that Limbaugh launched dozens of personal attacks on Fluke but apologized for only two of them. Bashir's statement on Palin, meanwhile, was a single instance and he apologized much more profusely and sincerely than Limbaugh did.

Nevertheless, Dickens huffed: "The questions have to be asked: Why no mandatory time-off for Bashir and why no outrage from the Big Three networks?" Dickens might want to try asking his boss Bozell why he refused to demand similar treatment for Limbaugh.

But Bozell himself wasn't done downplaying Limbaugh's misogyny -- he has moved on to pretending that it really wasn't offensive at all.

On the Dec. 6 edition of Fox News' "The Kelly File," Bozell asserted that Martin Bashir's comment about Sarah Palin "was 100-fold more serious than anything Rush Limbaugh has ever said about anyone in 30 years on his show."

Really? Calling Fluke a slut and a prostitute is not offensive? And don't forget (as Bozell wants you to), Limbaugh said much, much more than that.

Claiming that Fluke wants to be paid to have sex is not offensive? Claiming she's going broke having sex is not offensive? Claiming that Fluke has man lined up around the block waiting to have sex with her is not offensive? Demanding that Fluke post videos of herself having sex on the Internet is not offensive?

In Bozell's right-wing world, apparently not.

Perhaps Bozell can explain the scale he used to declare that Bashir's single comment is "100-fold" more offensive than Limbaugh's three days of denigration. We'd all love to see how it works.

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