On Thursday, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi honored commentator Fred Fiske of Washington’s NPR station WAMU as he retired in his 90s like Andy Rooney. Farhi helped Fiske chronicle “his absurdly lengthy career as an announcer, pop-music DJ, talk-show host and gently insistent, moderately liberal commentator.” Later in the piece, he said Fiske offered “what he describes as ‘moderate’ opinions.”
NewsBusters readers might recall a less-than-moderate Fiske, in tone and content. In a January 2010 commentary on WAMU, Fiske called the Rush Limbaugh show "Excrement in Broadcasting" and cited Jon Stewart attacking Limbaugh: "I think I know the cause of your heart trouble. You don’t have one." He said Limbaugh said "baseless, bigoted, and hateful" things, worse than the anti-Semitic Father Coughlin radio show of the 1930s.
That's neither "gently insistent" or "moderate," not even "moderately liberal." No one can quote Jon Stewart's leftist character-assassinating cracks and be called "moderately liberal." We organized a rebuttal by MRC president Brent Bozell soon afterward that aired on WAMU, that said this in part:
Fiske wasn’t shouting. But grade-school dirty-toilet insults don’t exactly match the image of calm sophistication that public radio presents to its listeners. Fiske claimed he didn’t despise Rush Limbaugh – "any more." But nasty invective suggests that the hatred has never ended.
Fiske denounced Rush as heartless and bigoted – as if he’s ever spent an hour with this man to able to pass such a personal judgment
All this came because, said Fiske, Rush had told his listeners that they should not donate their money to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. That is simply untrue.
Rush did boast that Americans are the most generous donors in the world, while anti-American countries like Cuba and Venezuela wouldn’t match our help. That is true.
Rush did suggest that despite decades of American aid, Haiti continues to be the economic wasteland of the Caribbean. That is also unquestionable.
Rush certainly insinuated that the Haiti crisis would be seen as a political opportunity inside the White House. Ask any conservative about how thoroughly liberals exploited the crisis of Hurricane Katrina, using it for political purposes, casting President Bush as a racist. Limbaugh’s argument, again, is defensible.
At no point did he ever call on Americans not to supply humanitarian aid. Period. How many time must the left be exposed for flat-out inventing things Limbaugh has supposedly said, only later to learn he never said any such thing? I’m Brent Bozell.
Some of us who've been at MRC for more than 20 years remember a Saturday morning interview that MRC's Brent Baker did with Fiske late in the George H.W. Bush years, when Fiske told him he had friends that killed themselves over Joe McCarthy's investigations of communism in the federal government. Fiske may be gentle enough to take a paycheck from an NPR station, but he's not going to be seen as gentle by conservatives on the other end of his attacks.