RUSH TO JUDG­MENT

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - / Bruce Tins­ley

The na­tional dis­course on race con­tin­ues to reel for­ward. In his zeal to buy the St. Louis Rams, Rush Lim­baugh is now part of that di­a­logue, hav­ing been tack­led sev­eral times by MSNBC and CNN. The net­works have claimed Mr. Lim­baugh said that slav­ery “had its mer­its,” though the ra­dio host has flatly de­nied it. But an in­stant feed­back loop has been cre­ated: in 24 hours, crit­ics — from the NFL Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion to as­sorted sports jour­nal­ists and black leaders — have emerged, ques­tion­ing Mr. Lim­baugh’s fit­ness to be the owner of a ma­jor sports team.

Enough al­ready, says L. Brent Bozell III, founder of the Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter.

“CNN and MSNBC must im­me­di­ately and pub­licly source when Lim­baugh ut­tered this phrase. He has unequiv­o­cally de­nied it. Now it is up to the same news me­dia that re­ported it as fact to prove that it was, in­deed, stated,” said Mr. Bozell, not­ing that he has sent let­ters to both net­works de­mand­ing they pro­vide cred­i­ble sources for the “slav­ery” quote.

“Ei­ther Rush Lim­baugh is ly­ing, or th­ese net­works — will­fully or not — are par­tic­i­pants in the worst form of char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion imag­in­able. They can prove their in­no­cence by doc­u­ment­ing this ac­cu­sa­tion. If they can´t, then they are 100 per­cent guilty of char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion,” Mr. Bozell says.

The sit­u­a­tion prompted Mr. Lim­baugh and his staff to lis­ten to 15 hours of au­dio­tape, just to make sure there was not some stray ut­ter­ance.

“There is not even an inkling that any words in this quote are ac­cu­rate. It’s ou­tra­geous, but it’s to­tally pre­dictable. It’s be­ing re­peated by peo­ple who have never lis­tened to this pro­gram. They cer­tainly didn’t hear it said them­selves be­cause it was never said,” Mr. Lim­baugh says.

But wait. What does he re­ally think?

“I’m col­or­blind. I have reached the point where ev­ery­body pro­fesses we need to go. I treat ev­ery­body equally. In the po­lit­i­cal arena, I don’t care. Male, fe­male, black, white, gay, straight, bi­sex­ual, if you are op­posed to the things I think are great for the coun­try, I’m go­ing to say so. I’m go­ing to crit­i­cize you. Not be­cause of what­ever it is dis­tin­guishes you from me on a sur­face ba­sis, but be­cause of ideas,” Mr. Lim­baugh says. ma­jor skit­tish mo­ment for Wal­greens and CVS. Both re­tail­ers have re­fused to carry it, with CVS pulling the sup­plies off its shelves on Oct. 7.

“It’s crazy. First Wal­greens, now CVS dropped Chia Obama for no rea­son. I have no ex­pla­na­tion. I know con­sumers want it, and we never got any bad press,” Joe Pe­dott tells In­side the Belt­way.

The pres­i­dent of San Fran­cisco-based Joseph En­ter­prises Inc., which man­u­fac­tures the line — along with the Clap­per and other as-seen-onTV fare, Mr. Pe­dott met with Mr. Obama him­self in May, and even has the bless­ings of Jesse Jack­son.

“He looked over Chia Obama and said it was a ‘fine prod­uct.’ I have three wit­nesses on that. I guess this re­jec­tion by re­tail­ers has to do with fear,” Mr. Pe­dott says. “There are al­ways rad­i­cal re­ac­tions. Peo­ple think we’re show­ing the pres­i­dent in an Afro hairdo, or show­ing him as a ‘pet.’ That’s not it at all. The mes­sage is ‘I’m proud to be an Amer­i­can,’ and peace, hope and pros­per­ity. There’s no ‘pet’ here.”

There could be a loss, con­sid­er­ing that CVS has 7,000 stores, Wal­greens 7,042. But Mr. Pe­dott is not dis­cour­aged. The Chia Obama has a new Web site now for those who still want one (www.chiaobama.com).

“And if peo­ple think the ‘hair’ gets too long on their Chia Obama, they can just cut it a lit­tle,” Mr. Pe­dott adds.

His hair grows al­most as fast as the na­tional debt: The Chia Obama is cre­at­ing a lather among some re­tail­ers, namely Wal­greens and CVS, who have pulled it from their shelves. The com­pany calls the re­ac­tion “crazy.”

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