Hate Radio: Oklahoma City and Beyond President Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh and talk radio for the bombing in Oklahoma City.

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Jun 15, 2017 No Comments ›› admin

by Lynn Woolley

Editor’s note:  This is Chapter 7  from the 2007 book “The Death of Talk Radio,” by Cliff Kincaid and Lynn Woolley.  This chapter details the Left’s efforts to shut down conservative Talk Radio by accusing it of causing such things as the Oklahoma City Bombing.  The book was about the “Fairness Doctrine” — an unconstitutional law that once kept on-air political talk stifled.  Since this book was written, the Left has turned to sponsor boycotts as the preferred way of shutting up opposing points of view.  Ironically, the introduction to this book was written by U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, now Vice President of the United States.

President Bill Clinton never mentioned Rush Limbaugh by name during his speech in Minneapolis. But he left little doubt that “El Rushbo” was on his mind as he discussed the underlying causes that led to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City:

The Death of Talk Radio by Cliff Kincaid and Lynn Woolley

Clinton said the nation’s airwaves are too often used “to keep some people as paranoid as possible and the rest of us upset with each other. [Such people] spread hate, they leave the impression that, by their very words, that violence is acceptable… It is time we all stood up and spoke against that kind of reckless speech and behavior.”

By implication, the President of the United States was saying that while Timothy McVeigh may have set off the bomb, it was really right-wing talk radio, led by Rush Limbaugh, that created the climate for such hatred.

The Left has come to call it “Hate Radio.”

The Media Research Center in Washington called Clinton’s bluff and offered one hundred thousand dollars to anyone who could cite a conservative talk host who was inciting this type of behavior. Someone brought up G. Gordon Liddy’s comments about what to do if a government agent comes to your house to take your guns away. But that was the best the Left could do.

Still, Clinton had drawn a line in the sand. If the Left can’t neuter a conservative talk show using the “fairness” argument, it will attempt to brand a host as a “hater” and throw him off the air entirely.

The fact of the matter is that the Left has spilled almost as much ink on the subject of “Hate Radio” – a term they cherish dearly – as they have on the more nebulous concept of “balance.” After all, if the idea of the Fairness Doctrine as “fair and balanced” is successfully utilized, Rush Limbaugh may very well remain on the air. But brand him as a purveyor of Hate Radio, and, like Don Imus, he could be removed completely.

Rush Limbaugh

In the aftermath of Mr. Clinton’s speech – which, naturally, was the subject of many a Limbaugh monologue and even a column in Newsweek entitled “Why I’m Not to Blame” – presidential aides hastened to point out that he never mentioned the name “Rush Limbaugh.”

But, as William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote in National Review on May 29, 1995: “…who did he have in mind? Unless the person doing all those things on the airwaves is a pretty big fixture on the national scene, surely the President of the United States would not bother to single him out for national attention? If it was somebody who got on the air from Tuscaloosa one night to empty his bile, that wouldn’t quality as the object of the President’s attention. Right?”

Exactly right.

Bill & Hill in 1999 (Photo: Getty Images)

Clinton was, in fact, doing what he was accusing Limbaugh of doing. The thought process on the Left goes something like this: Mr. Limbaugh and his ilk are constantly raving about “Big Government” and how it has become involved in too much of our lives. To the Left, this is nonsense since Big Government is a goal, but never mind that. Rush is keeping up the pressure day after day, raising the stakes, demonizing Big Government, and you know what? There are crazies out there that are soaking it all in. You know the type – gun nuts, pro-lifers, the Religious Right. With all this Hate Radio, doesn’t it make sense that some of them might snap? After all, isn’t Rush suggesting between the lines that violence is all right if it’s directed at evil Big Government?

Of course, by deflecting the blame to conservative Talk Radio, President Clinton was able to smear his political enemies and, at the same time, deflect any blame for the event from his own administration.

FAIR goes on the attack 

As reported by Ralph R. Reiland in Insight On the News, August 12, 2002, other liberals picked up on Clinton’s rhetoric and even expanded it to cover most on the Right:

“Falling into line, columnist Carl Rowan wrote that he was ‘absolutely certain’ that ‘the harsher rhetoric of the Gingriches and the Doles creates a climate of violence in America.’ Timothy McVeigh…was, in Rowan’s words, a ‘triggerman’ for Republicans. Added Bryant Gumbel: ‘The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that’s been coming from the Right and those who cater to angry white men.’”

Liberal watchdog groups like “Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting” (FAIR) weighed in on the Oklahoma City controversy as well, accusing conservative Talk Radio of jumping to conclusions. This quote is from Jim Naureckas in his article “Talk Radio on Oklahoma City: Don’t look at us” from Extra! July/August, 1995: “…it seemed to us that most Talk Radio in the days immediately after the blast was even more reckless and extreme than TV journalists in its rush to blame Muslims.”

FAIR pulled some out-of-context quotes to bolster its attack:

“You know why these Middle Eastern terrorists chose Oklahoma City?” said an unnamed Chicago host cited in the Chicago Sun-Times of April 24, 1995. “Because it’s in the heartland of America, and if they can strike there, there can strike anywhere.”

From WRKO/Boston’s Howie Carr on April 20, 1995: “What are we going to do with these towelheads?

FAIR even reported that, on the very same day, WABC/New York’s Bob Grant discussed the possibility of actually killing a guest who didn’t buy his argument that Muslims were to blame: “What I’d like to do is put you against the wall with the rest of them, and mow you down with them.”

To FAIR, these extreme examples of unfairly blaming innocent Muslims are proof that Bill Clinton was right. From the Naureckas piece: “Such rhetoric seems to vindicate President Bill Clinton’s charge that there are ‘purveyors of hate and division’ on U.S. airwaves who ‘leave the impression, by their very words, that violence is acceptable.’ Clinton was roundly condemned by right-wing talk radio hosts and their allies for ‘politicizing’ the Oklahoma City bombing, but his basic point is undeniable: There is much speech on the radio today that advocates or justifies violence.”

Whether you agree with Grant or not, it’s quite a stretch to place blame on Talk Radio for the idea that radical Muslims might have been involved in the Oklahoma City bombing. Soon after the incident took place, there had been an all-points bulletin issued by the Oklahoma City Police alerting law enforcement officers to be on the lookout for “a late-model Chevrolet full-size pickup, brown in color, with tinted windows.” According to the APB, the truck was occupied by “two Middle Eastern males, 25 to 28 years of age, six feet tall, athletic build, dark hair and a beard.”

It turned out to be homegrown terrorists, but still, many journalists insist that there is a Middle Eastern connection. Chief among them is Oklahoma City television reporter Jayna Davis, who wrote in her book “The Third Terrorist,” about the still-unexplained abandonment of the search for “John Doe #2” whom she believes was a part of Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard.

Indeed, the preponderance of mainstream reporting in the immediate wake of the explosion centered on a Middle Eastern connection; it wasn’t solely Talk Radio. And in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, it’s quite clear that anyone who didn’t consider the possibility of Middle Eastern terrorists in OKC might have been a bit naïve.

But of course, the Oklahoma City bombing is not the only instance in which the left has waved an accusing finger – and we won’t mention which finger – at Talk Radio.

On the liberal radar

Lowell Ponte, writing in the June, 2007 issue of NewsMax Magazine, discusses who might be next on the Left’s list of targets following the Don Imus affair. He mentions a slew of hosts who are on the radar of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America:

• Glenn Beck for calling Rose O’Donnell a “fat witch.”
• WSB/Atlanta syndicated host Neil Boortz for saying that in a national disaster, “we should save the rich people first. They are the ones that are responsible for this prosperity.”
• Rush for opining that some women “would love to be hired as eye candy.”
• Michael Savage for saying that the average prostitute is more reliable and more honest than most U.S. senators.
• Fox News Channel’s and Westwood One’s Bill O’Reilly for his agreeing with a caller that illegal immigrants “bring corrupting influences” and “a Third World value system” to America.
• Fox’s John Gibson for his report that nearly half the children in the United States 5 or younger are Hispanic, and for telling viewers to “do your duty – make more babies…Hispanics can’t carry the whole load.”
• WPHT/Philadelphia host Michael Smerconish for saying that political correctness has made the United States “a nation of sissies.”

Again, we don’t have the context for these comments, but it’s obvious that several of them are satire – something the humor-challenged Left doesn’t understand. Boortz’s comment is satire with a touch of truth, Limbaugh’s is almost certainly true, and Gibson’s makes a valid point while being hilarious at the same time. To the Left, these comments constitute Hate Radio and are grounds for throwing these hate-monger hosts off the air!

The G-Man controversy

Absent from this list, but at the top of many earlier lists is the Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy who parlayed his fame into a Talk Radio career, and for a while, was one of the top three hosts in the country.

G. Gordon Liddy

“The most notorious practitioner of Hate Radio today is G. Gordon Liddy, whose instructions about shooting federal agent s in the head seemed to epitomize the kind of speech Clinton confirmed,” gushed FAIR’s Naureckas. “Liddy, a convicted Watergate felon who is heard on some 250 stations, likes to give the impression that he speaks for an armed movement that is ready to use its extensive weaponry against government forces.”

Once again, the quote is wildly out of context. Here’s the text of what Liddy said on his show of August 26, 1994:

“Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they’re going to be wearing bulletproof vests… They’ve got a big target on there, ATF. Don’t shoot at that, because they’ve got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots. Kill the sons of bitches.”

Liddy, who won the “Freedom of Speech Award” at Michael Harrison’s Talk radio convention in Houston in 1995 based on this comment, answers his critics in an online interview with John Hawkins:

“I was talking about a situation in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes smashing into a house, doesn’t say who they are, and their guns are out, they’re shooting, and they’re in the wrong place. This has happened time and time again. The ATF has gone in and gotten the wrong guy in the wrong place. The law is that if somebody is shooting at you, using deadly force, the mere fact that they are a law enforcement officer, if they are in the wrong, does not mean you are obliged to allow yourself to be killed so your kinfolk can have a wrongful death action. You are legally entitled to defend yourself and I was speaking of exactly those kind of situations. If you’re going to do that, you should know that they’re wearing body armor so you should use a head shot. Now all I’m doing is stating the law, but all the nuances in there got left out when the story got repeated.”

It’s interesting to note at this point that Liddy isn’t on the radar screens quite so much since the ascendancy of so many of his peers on the Right. That is to say, there are bigger targets such as those mentioned by Media Matters. But the biggest prize of all remains the Doctor of Democracy. The liberals would seemingly pay any price for the head of Rush Limbaugh.

Bring me the head of Rush Limbaugh

Just as Mr. Liddy has been saddled with the ATF comments, so has El Rushbo been tarnished with the stain of a passing comment made ubiquitous by the Left. Some of them even keep video copies for duplicating and mail-out purposes; your writer knows this because a liberal friend made sure to send one.

We speak, of course, of the infamous Chelsea Clinton as “the White House Dog” comment from the Rush Limbaugh syndicated television show.

As the liberals tell it, here’s what happened:

“On his TV show, early in the Clinton administration, Limbaugh put up a picture of Socks, the White House car, and asked, ‘Did you know there’s a White House dog?’ Then, he put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton, who was 13 years old at the time and as far as I know had never done any harm to anyone.”

This is from the late Texas progressive Molly Ivins who rejected Mr. Limbaugh’s assertion that the on-air bit was an accident – that someone in the control booth had put up the photo without his permission. Having viewed the offending piece, it’s hard to say what the truth is. It could have been an out-of-control video tech. But the routine had be going somewhere. Maybe a photo of Hillary Clinton was the original plan. In any case, this was a tasteless attempt at humor – nothing more – and Rush learned from it and thereafter refrained from making Chelsea a part of his commentary.

If an under aged and nonpolitical child rightly should be off limits to satire – how about a serving member of an administration? Nope; to Molly Ivins, even Rush’s bits on the stature of then-Labor Secretary Robert W. Reich constituted Hate Radio as she wrote in Mother Jones, May/June, 1995:

“Limbaugh put up a picture of [Reich] that showed him from the forehead up, as though that was all the camera could get. Reich is indeed a very short man as a result of a bone disease he had as a child. Somehow, the effect of bone disease in children has never struck me as a appropriate topic for humor.”

One is left to wonder what does strike liberals as topics for appropriate humor? She
never mentioned it in her Mother Jones piece, but Molly might have chuckled at the title and contents of Al Franken’s book “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot,” or, perhaps she giggled at MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann’s constant bashing of Bill O’Reilly on his “Worst Person in the World” segments. She might have enjoyed editorial cartoons that caricature the facial features of people like George W. Bush in order to make them seem ridiculous.

The fact is, that political parody is a time-honored tradition in this country, and sometimes it’s really funny. The Left only chortles when the satire is aimed at those on the Right. Presumably, when Mr. Franken does it, it’s parody. When Rush does it, it’s Hate Radio.

Obama the Magic Negro 

President Barack Obama

This begs the question: Can the Left actually use the charge of Hate Radio to toss conservative hosts off the air, or even to have them charged with hate crimes? Don’t think for a minute they won’t try.

On March 19, 2007, David Ehrenstein wrote a column in the Los Angeles Times referring to Barack Obama as “The Magic Negro.”

Ehrenstein wrote about the mythical “Magic Negro” as a figure of folk culture to explain a black person who appears, seemingly out of nowhere, to help whites with their guilt:

“He’s there to assuage white ‘guilt’ (i.e. the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress hold no interest.”

If you read that and exclaimed “huh?” you’re likely not alone. Ehrenstein, who is black, presumably wrote it to explain the popularity of Obama among some whites. But whether the column was brilliant insight or progressive psychobabble, it was just the type of thing Rush Limbaugh would seize upon for comedy relief. And it didn’t take him long!

You might be thinking – wait a minute! Why would Rush do this in the wake of the now-infamous Donovan McNabb incident in 20003 in which Mr. Limbaugh said on ESPN that the Eagles quarterback wasn’t talented and received attention because the media wanted a black to do well.

The answer to that is not likely as complicated as liberal think tanks might have you believe. Probably, Rush saw the opportunity for a funny bit that would poke fun at a bunch of liberal institutions at the same time including the LA Times, Obama, Peter, Paul & Mary, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and of course, the silly notion of the Magic Negro.

The concept was a natural: Use the article and the term to rewrite Peter Yarrow’s 1963 song “Puff the Magic Dragon” and make it a parody. Since the Magic Negro concept involves the issue of black authenticity, the parody had Paul Shanklin, as Sharpton, calling out Obama as being “not authentic like me.”

It was insensitive by design. But it made its point: the civil rights Reverend (at least in the parody) was not happy that a Magic Negro has come along to supplant him as one of the two titular heads of the black political community. The obligatory outcries of racism hit a fever pitch with this op-ed headline in the May 17, 2007 edition of the Houston Chronicle.

“Is Limbaugh above the law?”

From the title, you’d think that writer Andrew Guy, Jr. was about to list the statutes that Mr. Limbaugh had apparently violated. Instead, the article was simply a rant, pointing out that both Limbaugh and Shanklin are white (a non sequitur if ever there was one) and asking “Is Limbaugh getting a free pass?”

Guy lamented fact that while Don Imus had been fired for calling a group of basketball players “nappy headed hos” Limbaugh was getting off scott free.

Guy should refer to his Constitution and court cases that unambiguously preserve the right to freedom of speech and particularly to political parody. The Rutgers lady basketball team was not running for office nor has it injected its way in any form into current events. But everyone and every institution that got skewered in the Shanklin parody was intimately involved in politics.

Mr. Guy’s column was all emotion, but such is the state of opinion on the Left. If anyone is fired over this piece, perhaps it should be the Chronicle’s headline writer. As a writer on the newspaper’s blog noted:

“So when did the Chronicle’s editors determine that ‘airing the works’ of somebody else (so long as the proper permissions were obtained) is ILLEGAL? Just curious. Is it a misdemeanor, or a felony, eh? What is the penalty? Can you cite the statute that is being violated?”

Obviously, no laws were broken by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Shanklin, or even by Mr. Guy who is free to write emotion-based nonsense if he wants to. The Magic Negro parody may have turned some heads on the Left, but most realized that it wasn’t the smoking gun they’d been hoping for.

And they ARE hoping.

Countdown to censorship

MSNBC’s rising star of the Left, Keith Olbermann openly calls Limbaugh “racist.” He demands to know why none of the “racist right” have been fired as Imus was. Under Ditto-Cam footage of Rush Limbaugh the “Countdown” screen displays the graphic “Selective Outrage.”

This was taking place on April 12, some days after Limbaugh had offended Mr. Olbermann by referring to Barack Obama as “Halfrican American.” Actually, that description is clever for two reasons: First, Mr. Obama is the offspring of a white mother and a black father. Second, it is another parody of liberals who insist on classifying everyone by race. But never mind that – Olbermann was offended and it’s not nice to offend liberals. So Olbermann and his guest, Air America’s Sam Seder, were busy offending conservatives, which is all right.

The conversation went this way:

Olbermann: “I’ll ask you the ten million dollar question: How does Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage get away with worse than what Don Imus said?”
Seder: “I’ll tell you something, well I think one there’s a certain expectation that they’re going to hear it more from Limbaugh although, you know, he, Dick Cheney was on his program several weeks ago. I listened in to Limbaugh today and he’s already warning his audience that they’re going to be coming for Limbaugh next. And I think, frankly, he’s got to be a little bit worried now because the bar has just been raised. I mean, corporations have said we’re not going to tolerate this any more and the next time Limbaugh slips up, which I think is inevitable, I think you’re going to see this sort of same type of reaction.”
Olbermann: “It’s the best thing I’ve heard in a couple of days.”
Seder, over Olbermann: “I hope so.”
Olbermann: “From your lips to God’s ears!”

Frankly, we doubt that Rush Limbaugh is “worried” over comments made on an all-liberal platform like “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” – a show that features virtually no opposing viewpoints. But Rush, like all other conservatives hosts, is vigilant.

He knows that it wasn’t the issue of balance that cost Don Imus his job. It was the charge of “insensitivity” blown up by the left to its most extreme form.

Just imagine if today’s spate of hate crimes legislation could be construed by liberal judges to encompass Talk Radio. Already, the state can prosecute people for their “feelings” of animosity toward certain protected classes including crimes involving race, religion, ethnicity and national origin. It’s quite possible that other classes might be added to the list including gender, sexual orientation and disability. It’s not much of a stretch that a liberal administration coupled with a willing Congress might make it a hate crime to bring up such issues over the airwaves.

It could be nothing more than a slip of the tongue, an off-hand comment, or biting political parody. It might be an outright mistake on the part of some overzealous host. No matter; the Left will characterize it as Hate Radio, and along with the return of the Fairness Doctrine, it’s the biggest threat to freedom of speech over the air.

(C) 2007 Accuracy In Media, Inc.

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