Limbaugh suggested Obama needs Secret Service protection because of "Clinton Inc."

››› ››› ADAM SERWER

On the May 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh defended his "Barack, The Magic Negro" song -- a parody mocking 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful and Sen. Barack Obama (IL) -- and said, in response to reports about the controversy this parody has generated: "If I were to think about Barack Obama being in any trouble -- needing Secret Service -- I would look to Clinton Inc. before I looked at me. Try that, drive-by media. Get that out there."

Limbaugh made specific reference to a May 6 Chicago Tribune article, which reported:

The Rush Limbaugh radio parody "Barack the Magic Negro" is picking up speed on the Internet with lyrics that mock Sen. Barack Obama's popularity with white voters and portray African-American activist Al Sharpton as sputtering with jealousy of the younger black politician.

[...]

Obama's status as the first African-American with a realistic chance of winning the presidency highlights the ambivalent state of racial tolerance in the country: Even as he attracts massive and adulatory crowds, he also inspires hateful remarks and threats that carry distinct racial undertones.

In the past week, for example, the U.S. Secret Service determined that the Illinois senator merited a special security detail and assigned one not only to him but to his house in Chicago's Kenwood neighborhood.

[...]

While national surveys suggest the country is willing to elect a qualified black president, the rising tensions so early in the campaign suggest a disquieting side. And the parody by Limbaugh, who boasts a large and loyal following of listeners, reminds that much of the discussion will take place far from the staged debates and campaign events.

[...]

But Limbaugh's critics say the song goes too far and predict that it could influence the pop-culture understanding of Obama and of black politicians in general.

"We take these things seriously because there's a consistent pattern of them making their way into the mainstream media and then the mainstream consciousness," said Karl Frisch, a spokesman for Media Matters, a non-profit media watchdog group that has been monitoring the broadcasts. "It's important to shoot these things down."

The Tribune weblog, The Swamp, also addressed the controversy on May 6, noting, "Limbaugh's critics say the song goes too far -- particularly because the piece is spreading on the Internet at a time when Obama faces heightened security concerns fueled in part by hate speech and threats directed at him."

Additionally, in response to a report by CBS Sacramento-affiliate KOVR, during which anchor Chris Burrours stated, "There are groups this morning saying that not only is the song racist, but it's putting Barack Obama at increased danger," Limbaugh asked: "[C]ould it be that these sponges who do not listen to the program -- obviously found out about this from the Chicago Tribune story yesterday that -- where did they hear about it? Did they hear about it from Media Matters for America?"

Limbaugh's home page currently features a collection of photos of KOVR staff, as well as a photo of Media Matters CEO and President David Brock and cultural critic David Ehrenstein:

As Media Matters originally noted, on his March 19 show, Limbaugh highlighted an op-ed published that day in the Los Angeles Times by Ehrenstein with the headline, "Obama the 'Magic Negro.' " At one point during the show, Limbaugh sang "Barack, the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon."

During the May 7 program, Limbaugh also stated that his audience thought the parody "was one of the most creative and funniest they'd ever heard."

From the May 7 broadcast of Premiere Radio Network's The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape. Get that back to the top. There is no controversy brewing anywhere except on the air of Channel 13 in Sacramento, and they are creating the controversy. This is an important point. We've been playing this parody since March. It didn't create a ripple in this audience. There was no -- in fact, the votes came in: People thought it was one of the most creative and funniest they'd ever heard.

Now, all of a sudden, there's a controversy over it. I wonder why that would -- could it be that these sponges who do not listen to the program -- obviously found out about this from the Chicago Tribune story yesterday that -- where did they hear about it? Did they hear about it from Media Matters for America?

Do any of these people actually listen -- when I -- if you people haven't done so, you need to go to the website and read the transcript of my "Rush to Excellence" appearance -- and all you drive-by journalists ought to do this, too. Every one of you out there that think you've got something here on "Barack, The Magic Negro," I'm going to try to help you and save you.

You are going to be profoundly embarrassed if you keep going down this tune and going down this path with thinking there's something here that isn't. All you've got to do -- it's called www.rushlimbaugh.com. It's on the internet. You hit the -- you just type that in, hit the return key, and bam.

My website comes up and you can find my remarks, the text of the speech, or anything you want about this song, or what I've said, and you would be fully informed before you start making idiots of yourselves on television.

Here's the byte in total. I'll be tempted to, but I will not interrupt it again.

[begin audio clip]

BURROUS: There is a controversy brewing here this morning, likely will be hitting fever pitch as we go through the day, of Rush Limbaugh's program for years and years, and when he was here in Sacramento, and since he's been national as well, has had parodies of people -- song parodies -- a lot of them pretty funny, but there's one out there that he's airing on his show about Barack Obama some are calling racist.

There are groups this morning saying that not only is the song racist, but it's putting Barack Obama at increased danger. You know, of course, last week we reported that he has gotten Secret Service protection -- the earliest for any presidential candidate. Is Rush Limbaugh's "Barack, The Magic Negro" song racist? What do you think? Vote online at CBS13.com.

He's had a lot of parody songs, Lisa and Jeff, some funnier and less sensitive than this one.

LISA GONZALES (anchor): I want to hear from Rush. I want to know why they made this song.

BURROUS: He has --

JEFF JAMES (AM meteorologist): He ought to know better. Once he starts to even go near that line, you know? It's never a good idea.

BURROUS: Kind of a timing -- post-Imus here. A bit much, some are thinking.

GONZALES: Can we call, Rush?

BURROUS: Exactly. Go dial him up. Limbaugh doesn't make up the songs himself. This guy named Paul Shanklin, he pays him to play them and make them up.

[end audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: "To play them and make them up." Now, where do you start with this? These are people hosting a local news show in Sacramento, on a television station, the CBS -- if what? What do you want -- the -- look, about -- OK. Snerdly's upset because they're trying to blame me now for Obama getting the Secret Service, but they're all going to get Secret Service protection in due course.

Yeah, I'll tell you what: If I were to think about Barack Obama being in any trouble -- needing Secret Service -- I would look to Clinton Inc. before I looked at me. Try that, drive-by media. Get that out there.

[...]

["Barack the Magic Negro" lyrics]

SHANKLIN (Sharpton impersonator): Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.

The L.A. Times, they called him that

'Cause he's not authentic like me.

Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper

Said he makes guilty whites feel good

They'll vote for him, and not for me

'Cause he's not from the hood.

See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,

Or me, or Farrakhan

Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.

Not come in late and won!

[refrain] Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.

The L.A. Times, they called him that

'Cause he's black, but not authentically.

Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.

The L.A. Times, they called him that

'Cause he's black, but not authentically.

Some say Barack's "articulate"

And bright and new and "clean."

The media sure loves this guy,

A white interloper's dream!

But, when you vote for president,

Watch out, and don't be fooled!

Don't vote the Magic Negro in --

'Cause -- 'cause I won't have nothing after all these years of sacrifice

And I won't get justice. This is about justice. This isn't about me, it's about justice.

It's about buffet. I don't have no buffet and there won't be any church contributions,

And there'll be no cash in the collection plate.

There ain't gonna be no cash money, no walkin' around money, no phoning money.

Now, Barack going to come in here and --

Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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