Limbaugh baselessly claimed that New Orleans police beating lacked media coverage, blamed it on "Democrat-run town and state"
On the October 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that the recent beating of a man by New Orleans police was not receiving the media attention of "a Rodney King moment because it's in a Democrat-run town and state," adding that the beating is not considered a "big deal" because it occurred in a "Democrat-run town." But at the time of the King beating -- March 3, 1991 -- Los Angeles also had a Democratic mayor, Tom Bradley.
The New Orleans incident occurred on the evening of October 8, when an African-American retired elementary school teacher was beaten and arrested by a group of police officers in New Orleans, three of whom appear to be white. It was taped by the Associated Press, with an AP producer on the scene subsequently being manhandled by one of the officers. Three officers have been charged in connection with the beating.
In an incident that was captured on videotape, Rodney King was severely beaten on March 3, 1991, by several officers from the Los Angeles Police Department in Lake View Terrace, a suburb within the city limits of Los Angeles. [Los Angeles Times, 3/5/91]. In the wake of the beating, Bradley declared that "[t]his is something which we cannot and will not tolerate" [ABC's World News Tonight, 3/5/91], and in a later statement, he denounced the actions of the officers: "The people of this city have been slapped in the face by the attitude and bigotry of these officers. ... The public must know how deep these prejudicial sentiments run in the LAPD" [Los Angeles Times, 3/20/91].
According to Limbaugh, "We haven't seen anybody getting outraged outside of New Orleans about this" because when "a bunch of cops in a Democrat town beat up a suspect, well, we've got to understand the rage of the cops." However, as just a handful of examples, the incident was covered by CNN's Live Sunday and Sunday Night [10/9/05], CBS Evening News [10/9/05], NBC's Nightly News [10/9/05], ABC's Good Morning America [10/10/05], and CBS Morning News [10/10/05]. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has also condemned the attack, describing it as "awful" and stating, "I don't know what the gentleman did, but whatever he did, he didn't deserve what I saw on tape."
From the October 10 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Hey, hey, hey! Did you -- did you see -- we've got a videotape of three New Orleans police officers, beating and punching a 64-year-old man accused of public drunkenness? The third officer grabbing and shoving an AP TV news producer who helped capture the confrontation on tape. The police spokesman in New Orleans, Marlon Defillo, said, "Well, the police are promising a criminal investigation." It's a troubling tape. No doubt about it. The tape -- the tape shows an officer hitting the suspect, Robert Davis, at least four times in the head Saturday night outside a French Quarter bar. Davis appeared to resist, twisting and flailing, as he was dragged to the ground by four officers. Another of the officers then kneed Davis, punched him twice. Davis was face-down on the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm, and into the gutter. Then a fifth officer ordered the producer of the -- Associated Press Television News producer Rich Matthews and a cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials, the officer grabbed the producer, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in his stomach, and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade. "I've been here for six weeks trying to keep alive! Go home!" shouted the officer, who identified himself as S.M. Smith.
Now clearly, folks, we have a Rodney King moment here. But we don't have a Rodney King moment at the same time. Why don't we have a Rodney King moment? I mean -- I mean, we've got the video, and it's been a story, but have you seen -- have you seen much news about this? Have you? Have -- well, now, no, no, I mean, we haven't, not every second. We haven't seen anybody getting outraged outside of New Orleans about this. Maybe it's not a Rodney King moment because it's in a Democrat-run town and state. And I think probably people end up saying we should understand the rage of the New Orleans police. We need to understand the rage, folks. That's -- you know, when rage is good, we need to understand it. When rage is bad, it's horrible and rotten, and we need to put the people who rage in jail.
I'm not saying it's common city [sic] in Democrat-run towns. I'm just saying it's no big deal. When -- for example, look at the -- look at the Sunday shows this week. They went out there, and they did everything they could to find conservatives to rip on Bush. The only time they notice conservatives is when conservatives -- I was invited. I didn't go, folks. I want you to know. I was invited this weekend, but this -- I said this is not the time for me to do it. They want to talk about the status of the conservative movement, and I said I'll be glad to do it, but this is not the time. I had a weekend from hell, but anyway, this is not -- meaning busy. But still, it's -- but by the same token, you know, when a Democrat -- a bunch of cops in a Democrat town beat up a suspect, well, we've got to understand the rage of the cops. They've been there six weeks. A lot of stress. So forth and so on.