Responding on June 9 to accusations by what he deemed "mainstream journalist Leftists" that former President Ronald Reagan "didn't do enough to stop AIDS ... so he's anti-gay," radio host Rush Limbaugh branded as "propaganda" the claim by "AIDS activists" in the 1980s that it was "only a matter of time before it [AIDS] spreads to the heterosexual community." Limbaugh also claimed that AIDS "hasn't made that jump to the heterosexual community" -- "other than in Africa [where] ... it's promiscuity that ... spreads this."
From the June 9 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: They [mainstream journalist Leftists] have spent their lives since the Reagan Presidency trying to rewrite those eight years, and they have -- they -- they have no choice but then to face full square their failure, by simply witnessing public events this week...Their effort to rewrite the '80s has failed. And they know it. So they're starting all over again. They're continuing it. ... [H]e [Reagan] didn't do enough to stop AIDS. And he did -- he did -- he didn't anything for AIDS, so he's anti-gay.
LIMBAUGH: And remember, back then in the '80s, one of the accompanying -- there -- there -- there -- there was a lot of fear-mongering going on around -- about AIDS, as a lot of people were scared about it. And one of the things that -- that the -- the AIDS activists said regularly back then was, oh, this is only a matter of time before it spreads to the heterosexual community. It's only a matter of time.
And they used that as -- as one of the weapons to try to get people like Reagan to start talking about it from their standpoint. And of course it -- it hasn't. It -- it didn't, and it hasn't, other than in Africa, and in Africa it is -- it is being spread not just by -- it -- it -- it's promiscuity that -- that -- that spreads this, if you want to know the truth. It's promiscuity.
But it -- it hasn't made that jump to the heterosexual community.
And when Reagan would not go to the bully pulpit and say what they wanted said, despite the money he spent, he was allowing people to die from AIDS, because he wasn't spreading the propaganda about it they wanted spread.
According to basic statistics from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, as of December 2002, an estimated 135,628 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS as a result of heterosexual contact, compared with 420,790 from male-to-male sexual contact and with 59,719 from male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use; approximately 9,300 American children under age 13 had been infected with the disease by the end of 2002. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services January 2004 "Facts and Figures" shows that, of new infections in the United States, 15 percent of men and 75 percent of women with AIDS were infected through heterosexual sex.
Limbaugh's comments came one day after the host of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly, distorted a remark by syndicated columnist Robert Scheer that "Reagan allowed AIDS to spread," erroneously accusing Scheer of stating that Reagan is "responsible for the AIDS epidemic" and that "Reagan spread AIDS."