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Talking Rush with Mark Steyn and The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait

Friday, October 16, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Yesterday I discussed the New McCarthyism with Mark Steyn, and specifically a new charge, leveled by Jonathan Chait on my show, that Rush had indulged in race baiting in his discussion of a school bus fight. (The transcript of my conversation with Steyn is here, and the transcript of the conversation with Chait will be here later. I am unfamiliar with the commentary Chait referred to, but since Jonathan amended his charge as soon as I challenged it, I suspect that like all other Rush-related charges it is at best wildly inflated.)

In our conversation, Mark correctly points out that CNN, MSNBC, Rick Sanchez, Professor Hunter and everyone else who slandered Rush may have done so without thinking about the English law governing defamation and its applicability given the world-wide distribution of much of this broadcast content. I have never thought it wise for public figures in America to file libel and slander claims given the test of NY Times v. Sullivan, but Mark is exactly right about the unwitting exposure half-wits on networks bring to their shareholders when they publish or allow to go unchallenged the sort of patently false and deeply injurious charges as were leveled against Rush as with the James Earl Ray lie made on MSNBC and the slavery lie push by Sanchez.

If Rush send the right sort of letter to NBC and CNN from an English barrister, the retractions will be very interesting to watch. The key exchanges with Steyn:

HH: Before we began, I taped an interview with the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, which will play at the end of the program today. And Jonathan says he didn’t know anything about the quotes that, the James Earl Ray quote and the slavery quote, but that he had heard Rush Limbaugh say that the attack on the bus, whatever that was, was a racist event, and that it meant that all of the white children in America couldn’t be safe. Now I don’t have a transcript, I have no idea what Rush said. He does three hours a day. But does that, it’s just another example, Mark Steyn, of the endless campaign against Rush.

MS: Yes, and the fact of the matter is that whatever your guest may or may not have heard, CNN broadcast these quotes as stated fact. And now, it’s interesting to me, CNN is carried on cable networks in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, many places around the world. As you know, British Commonwealth libel law is far more favorable to the plaintiff than it is in the United States. Rush could be like these Saudi sheiks. He could sue in a London court, and clean up over this stuff if he wanted to.

HH: Listen to this one, Mark Steyn. This is a professor of journalism at Hunter College. Her name is also Hunter, on MSNBC, I think on Monday, maybe Tuesday, here it is.

Host: Limbaugh’s attempt to buy the Rams rallying the union to be against it. Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Karen Hunter. She’s also a publisher and teaches journalism at Hunter College here in New York. You’ve also been a very vocal critic of what’s happening here. You wanted to respond to Rush Limbaugh explaining that he’s not a racist by saying that he wants to be part of an organization that’s 70% African-American.

KH: I could just see the visions of plantation grandeur dancing in his head as we speak. Yeah, it doesn’t make you a racist to want to own a team, but it does kind of, with all his history, question his power position over these players who make millions of dollars, and his ability to be able to move them around, deny them contracts, and do whatever he wants. Well we know, he’s the ultimate power position to be an owner of an NFL team.

Host: But when you talk about whether someone is racist, David and I have always tried to be very careful with this, because you do not know a person’s heart.

KH: Right.

Host: We cannot speak for a person’s motivation, but you can use their words in defining their character, and that’s…

KH: I mean, the Bible says out of there before the heart. It comes out of your mouth, so the words, you even put up two of the statements that he said about the NFL looking like the Cripps and the Bloods. He even said that Dr. Martin Luther King’s killer, James Earl Ray, should have a medal given to him, a medal of honor. He says we miss you, James.

HH: Now…

MS: Look, that woman quoted something that he didn’t say. But putting that aside, I went in, the first time I went in to guest host for Rush Limbaugh, there’s a black man on the other side of the glass telling me do this, do that, whatever. That’s Mr. Snerdley, who talks in Rush’s ear three hours a day. And as he said during the election campaign, is “certified black enough” to criticize Barack Obama. So the second, you know, the number two guy when Rush is sitting in his studio in Palm Beach is a black guy. His most popular guest host, putting aside these obscure foreigners like me that he lets on the air, his most popular guest host is Walter E. Williams, a black conservative. He has Thomas Sowell on, a black conservative. What this woman from Hunter College means, this supposedly successful journalist, is that these black guys are not on the Democratic Party plantation. If we’re going to bandy around all the plantation rhetoric, that’s what they’ve got. It means it doesn’t count if you have Walter Williams as your guest host. It doesn’t count if you have Mr. Snerdley in your ear directing the show, because they’re not Democratic Party plantation blacks.

HH: I found it amazing that the statement went unchallenged by an alleged anchor who would not immediately hear that that was a fable, a lie, and a malicious one. You’re right about libel and slander laws, Mark, around the world. You’re absolutely right about that. I want to bring this update…

MS: But also, you know more about U.S. law than I do, Hugh. I mean, I think there is, the charge of malice here, I think if you look at the way these things were labeled on TV, for example, ABC was very careful to say that it had been cited by somebody. In other words, they put that quote out, I think that gives the game away. I think they put the quote out knowing it was false. I think if you look at the caption on the CNN quote, Rush Limbaugh on the radio, no date, normally if you put up an incendiary statement, they date it. I think in this instance, they know it was false, and that’s a malice, Hugh.

HH: Oh, that’s a New York Times V. Sullivan issue, and we’ll see if Rush wants to go that direction.

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Anita Dunn, Chairman Mao, and Mother Teresa

Thursday, October 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I played the Anita Dunn Mao/Mother Teresa audio on my radio program.

She was not joking. She was painfully earnest and apparently utterly clueless about the legacy of the mass-murdering fanatic Mao. Imagine saying that you took inspiration from the writings of Pol Pot, and failing to mention the slaughter of 2 million Cambodians under his rule.

Lost in the controversy will be Dunn’s risible holding up of Mother Teresa as the second half of “the two people I turn to the most.” Dunn works for the most pro-abortion rights president in history, an absolutist on the issue, unwilling even to vote for the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

Mother Teresa was the most ardent and visible pro-life activist of the 20th century. It is simply laughable for Anita Dunn to hold up this great saint as her inspiration and advance the agenda of this White House at the same time.

Mitch McConnell on the Cloture Votes Ahead, and Which Senators To Contact To Urge A “No” Vote On Cloture

Thursday, October 15, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I interviewed GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday on the health care bills and the looming cloture votes. (Transcript here.)

There will be two cloture votes, but by far the most important one is the first one. The first will, if passed, allow debate on the “merged bill” to begin. Once a “merged bill” is on the floor, the process towards the radical and destructive overhaul of American medicine becomes much more difficult to stop.

A second cloture vote will be necesssary to bring the debate to a close on whatever the floor amendment process produces.

Here’s the key excerpts of the conversation on the procedural points:

HH: Now yesterday, Joe Liebermann said that he would not vote for the Baucus bill. Do you think that means he’ll also vote against cloture?

MM: Well, I don’t know what the Democrats will do on procedure. But let’s assume we do get on the bill. I don’t think we should get on this bill, and we will try to defeat cloture, which for your listeners, is try to prevent them from getting sixty votes to get on the bill. But let’s assume we do get on the bill. We’re not going to allow this to be jammed through. In the last eight or ten years, we’ve spent eight weeks on an energy bill, seven weeks on no child left behind. Just in the last Congress, we spent four weeks on a farm bill. Any effort to try to jam this thing through before everybody’s had an opportunity to read it, before we’ve had a chance to have numerous amendments, will be viewed by the American people as a railroad job. And I don’t think they’re going to take it on an issue this important. I mean, this is one of those unique issues that everybody in the country cares about-health care-every one. And I don’t think they’re going to be able to jam this through the American people without full-fledged discussion and debate.

HH: Now Senator McConnell, this audience, at least, and I think generally in the United States, are very aware of the cloture vote. They believe that is the vote. I believe that’s the vote. I believe this is a lost cause if they get sixty votes.

MM: Well, there’ll be two. There’ll be cloture on motion to get on the bill, and then there’ll be cloture on the, you know, to get off the bill. So there’ll be two opportunities at a minimum for the majority to demonstrate they can produce sixty.

HH: And so, when does that first vote come up? Because that, to me, is…

MM: Well, that’ll be up to Reid, and what we’re insisting on is that before we even get to the issue of whether we proceed to the bill, it needs to be on the internet a minimum of 72 hours. It needs to have a score from the Congressional Budget Office. Bear in mind, what they scored was a concept paper in the Finance Committee. That matter that they voted out of committee yesterday was not a bill. It was a concept paper, which then has to be produced, has to be reduced to bill language. I don’t think they’ll ever even reduce that bill, that concept paper to bill language. The one they’re going to do is the one that’s in Reid’s office right now being written in consultation with the White House.

HH: But to gear up America to resist the first cloture vote, to get on the bill, people need to kind of have a sense of when Harry Reid’s going to try and slip it through. And do you have any sense of that?

MM: I think he’ll probably try to go to the bill sometime before the end of the month. That would be my guess.

HH: And how much are you talking with those 10-12 Democrats, who you may or may not want to name, about stopping it right then?

MM: Yeah, well, I’m not going to name them, but you know, they’re looking at the public opinion polls, too, and I’m sure you’ve reported to your listeners how the public is dramatically turning against this bill. And we don’t operate in a vacuum up here. You know, everybody’s interested in public opinion, and public opinion has an enormous impact on what we do. And there’s a whole lot more queasiness on the Democratic side on this debate than there is on the Republican side. I can tell you that.

My strong belief is that the GOP must work hard to stop the first cloture bill, and define it in the minds of the public as the first and most important make-or-break vote in the Senate, and to send the message that anyone who votes for it in the hope of “moving the process along” is really voting for the massive cuts to Medicare, the huge premium hikes and the wide array of taxes that the Baucus bill includes. The idea that any senator can vote for the first cloture motion with the hope of significantly improving the bill is not credible as leverage to exact serious changes to the bill exists before the first cloture vote.

Senators Reid, Bacus and Dodd met with Rahm Emanuel at the White House yesterday, but what really matters right now is what Senators Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh want in the health care bill, or if they want a health care bill at all. These four Democrats, plus a handful of others, control the entire board, and they are already responsible for any bill that emerges because they have the power to stop it. Bayh and Lincoln especially –they are both up for re-election in 2010– are keys to the next ten weeks. Please call and e-mail them and the others listed below and urge a no vote on cloture unless and until the bill is fundamentally altered to remedy its many devastating impacts to America medicine.

Arkansas

Sen. Blanche Lincoln

DC Phone: (202) 224-4843

Local Phone: Dumas (870) 382-1023, Fayetteville (479) 251-1224, Little Rock (501) 375-2993, Jonesboro (870) 910-6896, Texarkana (870) 774-3106

Link to E-mail

Sen. Mark Pryor

DC Phone: (202) 224-2353

Local Phone: Little Rock (501) 324-6336

Link to E-mail

Colorado

Sen. Michael Bennet

DC Phone: 202) 224-5444

Local Phone:
Denver Metro Office: (303) 455-7600 Toll Free: (866) 455-9866 Fax: (303) 455-8851
Colorado Springs Office: Phone: (719) 328-1100

Link to E-mail.


Connecticut

Sen. Joe Lieberman

DC Phone: (202) 224-4041

Local Phone: (860) 549-8463

Link to E-mail

Florida

Sen. Bill Nelson

DC Phone: (202) 224-5274

Local Phone: Orlando (407) 872-7161, Miami-Dade (305) 536-5999, Tampa (813) 225-7040, West Palm Beach (561) 514-0189, Tallahassee (850) 942-8415, Jacksonville (904) 346-4500, Broward (954) 693-4851, Fort Meyers (239) 334-7760

Link to E-mail

Indiana

Sen. Evan Bayh

DC Phone: (202) 224-5623

Local Phone: Evansville (812) 465-6500, Fort Wayne (260) 426-3151, Hammond (219) 852-2763, Indianapolis (317) 554-0750, Jeffersonville (812) 218-2317, Southbend (574) 236-8302

Link to E-mail

Louisiana

Sen. Mary Landrieu

DC Phone: (202) 224-5824

Local Phone: Baton Rouge (225) 389-0395, Lake Charles (337) 436-6650, New Orleans (504) 589-2427, Shreveport (318) 676-3085

Link to E-mail

Montana

Sen. Jon Tester

DC Phone: (202) 224-2644

Local Phone: Billings (406) 252-0550, Bozeman (406) 586-4450, Butte (406) 723-3277, Glendive (406) 365-2391, Great Falls (406) 452-9585, Helena (406) 449-5401, Kalispell (406) 257-3360, Missoula (406) 728-3003

Link to E-mail

Nebraska

Sen. Ben Nelson

DC Phone: (202) 224-6551

Local Phone: Omaha (402) 391-3411, Lincoln (402) 441-4600, Scottsbluff (308) 631-7614, Kearney (308) 293-5818, South Sioux City (402) 209-3595

Link to E-mail

North Dakota

Sen. Kent Conrad

DC Phone: (202) 224-2043

Local Phone: Bismarck (701) 258-4648, Fargo (701) 232-8030, Grand Forks (701) 775-9601, Minot (701) 852-0703

Link to E-mail

Sen. Byron Dorgan

DC Phone: (202) 224-2551

Local Phone: Bismarck (701) 250-4618, Fargo (701) 239-5389, Minot (701) 852-0703, Grand Forks (701) 746-8972

Link to E-mail

South Dakota

Sen. Tim Johnson

DC Phone: (202) 224-5842

Local Phone: Aberdeen (605) 226-3440, Sioux Falls (605) 332-8896, Rapid City (605) 341-3990

Link to E-mail

Virginia

Sen. James Webb

(202) 224-4024
1-866-507-1570

Link to E-mail.

West Virginia

Sen. Robert C. Byrd

DC Phone: (202) 224-3954

Local Phone: Charlestown (304) 342-5855, Eastern Panhandle (304) 264-4626

Link to E-mail

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