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Monday, March 5, 2012

Rush's History of Fake Apologies

Rush Limbaugh's fake apology on Saturday may have surprised some people, because Limbaugh almost never apologizes for anything he says, nor does he correct the seemingly endless factual errors that he makes. In fact, Limbaugh boasted in 2005: "We don't retract anything we do here because we never lie and make things up on this program." As Rush declared in 2009, “I don't apologize. Ever. Of course, it helps that I'm never wrong."

But Limbaugh understands the necessity of making a fake apology for the sake of your career. In 1984, Limbaugh got his big break in radio when he was hired to replace Morton Downey, Jr., a shock jock at KFBK in Sacramento, California who had been fired for telling a joke about “chinks” and refusing to apologize.

Limbaugh's apology on Saturday was plainly insincere, particularly since Limbaugh claimed, “I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.” Limbaugh personally attacked Fluke's sexual behavior at least 53 times last week, so no one can possibly take this fake apology seriously.

In my book about Limbaugh, I note that twice before, he has uttered the words, “I apologize,” and the cases of Chelsea Clinton and Michael J. Fox reveal just how insincere Rush's apologies are.

On November 6, 1992, Rush said this on his television show:
In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.' Could--could we see the cute kid? Let's take a look at--see who is the cute kid in the White House. [A picture is shown of Millie the dog] No, no, no. That's not the kid. [Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton] That's--that's the kid. We're trying to...[Applause] No, just kidding.
The “cute kid” reference was nothing but an excuse to compare Chelsea to a dog. If Limbaugh had not intended to show Chelsea's picture, he would never have said, “Just kidding.” There was no mistake, and his fake apology was just another excuse to show the picture over and over again: “There I go. My friends, I apologize again. I--that's the third time the crew makes a mistake by showing you Millie the dog when I intended to show you Chelsea Clinton...”

Limbaugh's “I apologize again” wasn't regret, it was part of the script for insulting a 12-year-old girl because she had the name “Clinton.” Limbaugh never apologized to Chelsea Clinton, not for comparing her to a dog, nor for any of the other terrible lies he has said about her over the years.

Limbaugh's most notable faux-apology before this Saturday came in 2006, when he attacked Michael J. Fox. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, appeared in a campaign commercial for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill because she supported stem-cell research. Limbaugh declared that Fox was faking his Parkinson’s disease symptoms: "In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two." On his “dittocam,” Limbaugh was gyrating back and forth in a mock tremor, displaying how he thought Fox was faking the symptoms of his disease.

As in the Fluke case, Limbaugh's initial response to criticism was completely defensive. Limbaugh claimed there was a media conspiracy against him: "Some networks have sped it up to try to enhance the spastic-like nature of it. They are all saying that I was 'mocking, making fun of. How low will Limbaugh go now and next? This is unconscionable.' It is absurd and ridiculous for them to make this charge that I would make fun of somebody in this circumstance.” Of course, Limbaugh offered no evidence to support his ridiculous charge that multiple networks had sped up the footage of him mocking Fox. And if Limbaugh wasn't trying to mock Fox, he certainly was doing a very good acting job pretending to be someone mocking a man with Parkinson's disease.

But as the criticism grew, Limbaugh responded on October 23, 2006, with his classic fake apology: “So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.”

On Oct. 26, 2006, Limbaugh said: “I need to apologize, I was wrong because I speculated either he didn't take his medication or he was acting.” But this, too, wasn't really an apology; instead, Limbaugh noted that Fox's appearance was caused by taking too much medication, and Limbaugh said this was intentional: “I think the reason for that is so you would really, really hate Republicans.”

A year later, Limbaugh had conveniently forgotten his earlier fake apology to Michael J. Fox: “Have I apologized, ladies and gentlemen? No. Have I backtracked from anything I have ever said? Have I backtracked from the Michael J. Fox controversy?”

Right now, the “Limbaugh Museum of Broadcasting” on his website has this about the Fox controversy: “It later turns out that Rush was right: Fox admitted in his own book that he sometimes went without medication in order to illustrate the debilitating effects of his disease.”

No, Rush wasn't right. But the Michael J. Fox controversy shows what a Limbaugh apology really means: absolutely nothing.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

1 comment:

  1. Of course Limbaugh's apologies are insincere. Why should they be any different than anything else he has said?