Television and Radio: Pass Rush

Limbaugh makes a bad call; let's go to the replay

Oct 8, 2003 at 2:06 pm

On a recent program radio personality Don Imus, commenting on the Rush Limbaugh/Donovan McNabb story, joked about his fellow talk show host. "(He) didn't come from a Mensa meeting to the (ESPN) studio there in Bristol, Conn." That might be, but Rush has always been clever and calculating. Now he's having trouble extracting himself from a sticky situation. He's still trying though.

You've probably heard by now that Limbaugh, speaking on ESPN's football pre-game show. Countdown, on Sept. 28, professed that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was "never very good" and that the media propped him up over their desire to see a black quarterback do well. This is so outrageously stupid on so many levels that I don't know where to begin.

Many immediately cried racism, while others tried to examine the comments more closely. Upon further review, the former crowd actually got it right. Rush, after resigning his ESPN gig, continued to insist his comment had nothing to with race, but was simply a criticism of the media.

What nonsense!

Here is an example of a non-racist statement using San Diego back-up quarterback Doug Flutie as an example. "The media has been very desirous that an under-6-foot quarterback do well." Here's another using New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington. "The media has been very desirous that a quarterback from a smaller division one school do well (Pennington played at Marshall University, a MAC school)."

"This is such a mountain out of a molehill," Rush blustered on his show, hours before quitting ESPN. "There's no racism here. No racist intent whatsoever." Saying the media wants McNabb to succeed because he is black has everything to with race.

Let's further examine Rush's observation. "I don't think (McNabb) has been that good from the get-go." Hmmm. In 2002, McNabb was the fourth-rated passer in the NFC, seventh in the league. That's out of 39 signal callers who took enough snaps to qualify and ahead of Brett Favre and Tom Brady, both Super Bowl winners — and white guys. You can excuse that, though, as a benign sports argument.

Rush's true colors came out when he brought race in. It's not so much that he's a racist, but he tried to sell the conservative lie that the media has a decidedly liberal bias. Problem is, pro football fans aren't ditto-heads. If what Rush claimed were true, Jeff Blake, Daunte Culpepper and Steve McNair would be all over the Sunday highlights every week. Sometimes they are. But only when they have a big game. McNabb summed it up best when he said "a free ride from the media in Philadelphia? That's a good one."

Sinking in controversy, Rush did what any good NFL coach would do at halftime. He made adjustments. The left was only happy to help. Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean, Wesley Clark and Al Sharpton overreacted by calling for Limbaugh to be fired by ESPN. Rush reacted brilliantly and fell on his sword.

By resigning, Rush became the victim. "We live in a country where, supposedly there is a first amendment," Rush said in a speech the day after he stepped down, "and you can offer opinions. But you can't. In certain places and at certain times, you can't." Like say when you criticize the George W. Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq? Like that Rush?

Poor guy. He was just speaking his mind. You can't say anything in this country without being called a racist. People are hypersensitive, politically correct, blah, blah, blah. Rush breaks a tackle.

"I don't mean it to hurt anybody. I don't mean it in anyway to be diminishing of anybody, it's just an opinion," Rush continued. You say the media wants a black quarterback to do well, but you're not diminishing anybody? Operator, I think we have a bad connection.

Here, however, is the most telling statement, from that same post-resignation speech. "It is something I have believed for quite a while." This is so strange, because Rush has always claimed to be a huge fan of the NFL. If that's true, he has to know what he said was total crap.

Former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts, who is black, a Republican and a former pro-quarterback (Ottawa Rough Riders) was on CNN before Rush announced his departure from ESPN. Watts said that athletics is truly the one place where you are judged on your merits. Being judged on your merits. That's the first thing you learn at conservative school, isn't it?

If you were to open Rush's closets, you might find illegal prescription drugs, but you wouldn't find sheets with eyeholes. However, Rush believes what he believes, and a lot of his listeners are right there with him. Many aren't rabid sports fans, so they just believe what El Rushbo tells them, because it goes along with what they believe to be true.

You can voice your opinion in America, Rush, but if you're erroneous, or inaccurate — or you just plain lie — someone might call you on it. Most people, particularly sports fans, know Rush is just plain wrong on this one. He should still be on ESPN. It would be a lot of fun to watch him say more dumb and inaccurate things. Then more people would get an idea of what he's really about. ©