Wanda Sykes Plays Down Limbaugh Kidneys Joke, This Time on CNN

John King, CNN Anchor; & Wanda Sykes, Comedian | NewsBusters.orgComedian Wanda Sykes brushed aside her low blow about Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys failing as no big deal on CNN’s AC360 on Thursday: “Was it...too far for that room? Yes, it was...but, hey, you shouldn’t invite me....I think everybody would have been disappointed if I hadn’t gone too far. Sykes also gushed wildly over President Obama during the interview: “He is like the George Clooney of presidents.”

Anchor John King, filling in for Anderson Cooper, interviewed Sykes 45 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour, and brought up the issue of the Limbaugh crack mid-way through the interview: “As you know, there were one or two lines [from Sykes’s appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner] that got a little bit of a gasp and a groan in the room. One of them was when you were making fun and criticizing Rush Limbaugh.” After playing a clip of the line in question, he asked, “Any regrets for that? As you know, there was a big gasp in that room. Washington wasn’t quite ready for that one.”

Sykes was largely unapologetic in her answer, just as she was in her interview earlier that day with NBC’s Meredith Vieira: “Still makes me laugh. I don’t know. (laughs) The thing is, everyone laughed at the first part. But then it’s the tag line when I said- you know, I hope his kidneys fail. You know, was it- it’s too far for that room? Yes, it was too far for that room. But, hey, you shouldn’t invite me. You know what you’re going to get, you know? I think everybody would have been disappointed if I hadn’t gone too far.”

Earlier in the interview, the CNN anchor brought up President Obama as a subject of comedy: “In recent history, when you had Bill Clinton, you had the southern thing. A lot of comics said he looked a little funny. Then you had the comedic gift of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bush comes to town and he’s from Texas and he talks a little funny and there’s the Bushisms, and people had a lot of fun making fun of him. What about Barack Obama? Is he as easy a target as the material is rich?”

The comedian seemed to channel Chris Matthews and just became awestruck over the President: “You know what? He’s...just cool. He is like the coolest president that we’ve had. I mean, he is like the George Clooney of presidents. You know, he walks in the room. All the women want to be with him and all the guys want to be him. You know? He’s just cool. I’ve never heard women like this before. You know, he walks in a room, and they’re all like, ‘Ooh, I'll have his baby.’ It’s like- jeez, hey, he’s not John Edwards, all right? He’s Barack Obama. Calm down.”

When King asked the comedian, who “came out of the closet” as a lesbian in 2006, about Obama’s record on the homosexual agenda at the end of the interview, Sykes acknowledged her disappointment in the President, but still sang his praises:

KING: Grade the President on this one. He gave a big speech to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization, not that long ago, and there were a number of standing ovations. The President said, ‘I want to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I want to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. I want to do some other things that are important to the gay and lesbian community.’ But there were also a lot of people in the room who said, ‘Nice speech, Mr. President, but you've been in office almost 10 months now. Where’s the proof you’re going to deliver?’ Grade the President.

SYKES: As far as with gay rights, yeah, he’s failing in that. But if you look at- I grade him overall. Because that, to me, I’m more- I’m just as concerned with our country as a whole. So when you look at- you know, the economy and- you know, and jobs and education, then- I mean, he was in a big, big hole when he took office, you know. So everything has to- you know, I want to say get in line. And yeah, the LGBT community doesn’t really want to- you know, be at the back of the line, but as long as we’re in the line. To me, he had to bring this country back to life, just like he gave us life-saving CPR, and for me to slap him about- you know, not moving ahead on gay rights. That’s like somebody giving you CPR and you go, ‘Oh, your breath stinks.’ I mean, it’s (laughs) - you know, I’m just grateful that the country is still surviving. You know, the Dow went up to 10,000 last week. I mean, to me, he’s doing a great job, and like I said, I really believe that eventually he’ll get to the other issues with gay rights.

Sykes was also interviewed earlier in the evening on CNN during Campbell Brown’s program, but Brown didn’t raise the Limbaugh issue at all during the segment. Instead, the CNN anchor threw softball questions at the comedian, asking her about motherhood and her upcoming show on Fox.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan was a news analyst at Media Research Center