“Lord, thank you for my enemies.”
Thus began El Rushbo’s interview with NBC national correspondent Jamie Gangel. It is remarkable that, even when the media sit down with Limbaugh, they still find a way to be biased. To be fair, Gangel did not conduct the interview like Keith Olbermann might have. But there were a few points of interest which must be noted – and some even pointed out by Rush during the interview.
First up, Gangel asks Rush if he’s a racist or a homophobe:
JAMIE GANGEL [voice over B-roll]: Rush’s brand of satire also keeps everyone talking. Parodies like this one, of Congressman Barney Frank, who also happens to be gay:
BARNEY FRANK IMPERSONATOR, singing: “I am the banking queen!”
GANGEL: And this one about race, and candidate Barack Obama:
BARACK OBAMA IMPERSONATOR, singing: “Barack the ‘Magic Negro’ lives in D.C.”
GANGEL: Rush says it was inspired by a column in the L.A. Times, written by an African-American. Critics say they are offensive. Rush is unrepentant.
GANGEL [on camera]: You know it’s going to elicit a strong reaction. And you know –
LIMBAUGH: Would you ask anybody who writes for Saturday Night Live these questions?
GANGEL: When your critics say these things are racist, or they’re homophobic....
LIMBAUGH: They’re none of that!
GANGEL: Are you a racist?
LIMBAUGH: No! Are you? Why are you asking?
GANGEL: Are you a homophobe?
LIMBAUGH: No, are you?
LIMBAUGH: Well, good. Then we’re both clear.
First, a hat-tip to MRC’s Research Director Rich Noyes for pointing out the fact that this response comes 29 months after the “Today” show implied that Limbaugh was a racist for airing the “Barack the Magic Negro” parody. Better late than never, eh?
Now, one wonders if Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live (SNL) would be accused of being a racist for portraying both President Obama and New York Governor David Paterson in black face, or if it is simply incisive, brilliant satire from a talented performer. Incidentally, SNL airs on NBC – so if conservatives are racist by association with Rush Limbaugh, are the hosts of the “Today” show not racist for their association with SNL?
The point is, NBC is asking leading questions of conservatives that they would not ask of their own company’s employees. It is possible that SNL is just more funny than Limbaugh’s parodies, but that is for individuals (not NBC correspondents) to determine. “Today” is hardly the arbiter of all things humorous.
The other segment worth noting is this, in which Gangel reveals – shockingly – that Limbaugh is actually a really nice guy:
GANGEL: I hate to ruin your reputation [Limbaugh starts laughing], but off-camera, you are polite, you are courteous, you have old-fashioned manners.
LIMBAUGH [seriously]: Absolutely, Jamie.
GANGEL: What happens when that microphone goes on?
LIMBAUGH: I’m the same guy.
LIMBAUGH [B-roll from his show]: Our president, Barack Hussein Obama. Mmm mmm mmm!
LIMBAUGH: I’m one of the most fun-loving, outgoing guys, and – I’m not an actor.
GANGEL: How much of what you say is entertainment, and how much do you believe?
LIMBAUGH: I believe everything, but there’s satire. One thing I do that you won’t find anywhere else in the media, I combine two different elements. Satire, irreverent humor, with serious commentary. And I go back and forth within a moment’s notice. I’m not controversial. Everybody that listens to me agrees with me.
GANGEL: You’re not controversial?
LIMBAUGH: No! I’m not controversial. Bombastic, outrageous – you know what? I think that’s just a factor of political correctness. I do not allow myself to be constrained by people who say ‘oh you can’t say that!’ So I say nothing that’s shocking or surprising. It’s just that nobody has the courage to say it anymore because they’re afraid they’re going to offend somebody. I don’t have those fears. I’m a communicator, I’m a broadcaster.
GANGEL: No apologies?
LIMBAUGH: No! Why would I – no, of course not!
And here is the thing which drives the media up a wall: Rush was a political satirist before anyone else could be. Jon Stewart simply brought a left-skewed Limbaugh act to Comedy Central, albeit devoid of the pointed analysis and thoughtful commentary Limbaugh also brings to his show.
If the only things you ever heard Limbaugh say were the sound bites the media play, it would be somewhat easier to think Rush is all of these evil things. But he’s not – a fact which is clear even in an interview seen through the NBC lens.
Kudos to Rush for transcending Gangel’s “Today” interview.