Limbaugh misrepresented Bill Moyers, said "I'm pretty sure he's lost his mind"
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On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh aired a clip of Bill Moyers saying: "And you couldn't say, 'How are we going to defeat the nigger?' How are we going to -- which is the word that was so common when I was growing up in the South. 'How are you going to defeat the kike?' referring to Jews -- you wouldn't do -- that woman would not have done that, I don't think." After the clip, Limbaugh said: "I have no idea what he's talking about. I do -- I'm pretty sure he's lost his mind. Meanwhile, they accuse us of saying those words and harboring those thoughts, and now look who's out saying them on PBS." At no point during the show did Limbaugh note that Moyers was discussing Sen. John McCain's response to a woman who asked him: "How do we beat the bitch?"
On the December 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh aired a clip of PBS' Bill Moyers saying on the December 7 edition of Bill Moyers Journal, "And you couldn't say, 'How are we going to defeat the nigger?' How are we going to -- which is the word that was so common when I was growing up in the South. 'How are you going to defeat the kike?' referring to Jews -- you wouldn't do -- that woman would not have done that, I don't think." Immediately after playing the clip, Limbaugh said: "I have no idea what he's talking about. I do -- I'm pretty sure he's lost his mind. Meanwhile, they accuse us of saying those words and harboring those thoughts, and now look who's out saying them on PBS." At no point during the show did Limbaugh note that Moyers was discussing Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) response to a woman who asked him at a presidential campaign event in November: "How do we beat the bitch?" Moyers was arguing that there is much greater tolerance in public discourse of misogynistic language than other forms of bigotry.
From the December 7 edition of PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, during which Moyers interviewed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author and professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and discussed the "fairly misogynist" discourse surrounding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) on the radio and Internet:
JAMIESON: When the woman stands up and asks Senator McCain, "How do we beat the bitch?" and there isn't a clear statement by Senator McCain that, "That's not the way one characterizes, you know, my opponent on the Democratic side," and there's not a public commentary that surrounds it the way there was a public commentary about the statement by [radio host Don] Imus or about the comedian from Seinfeld, essentially what we say to the culture at large is, "That must be appropriate discourse to apply to a female candidate running for office, or at least this female candidate."
MOYERS: It's OK to talk this way.
JAMIESON: It's OK to talk this way.
MOYERS: Let me show the audience that particular -- it's at real time. It happened. Senator McCain was at public meeting. And this woman stood up and asked -- woman. Wasn't a man who asked him this question. Look at it.
[begin video clip]
WOMAN: How do we beat the bitch?
McCAIN: May I give the translation?
[end video clip]
MOYERS: I know people don't like that word. I don't like that word. I'm using it only because it is out there. It's in common discourse on the Internet, and, you know, Senator McCain had the chance to say, "That's out of bounds. Don't ask me that question. Ask the question you want to ask differently, and I'll answer it." But he didn't. He laughed. And he, in effect, gave it legitimacy.
JAMIESON: Well, he looked uncomfortable, and then he tried to find a way to reframe it, and he didn't reframe it very artfully. But those first seconds that you're showing on camera, you can see he's not very comfortable in that moment. And I wonder why the national audience didn't see that moment and feel that discomfort and ask the question, "Would you be comfortable saying about the woman who teaches your child, the woman who is your doctor, the woman who heads this corporation, you know, 'Well, how's the bitch doing today?' "
You know, where are the boundaries of when you will use that language and what does it mean? Was this a Hillary-specific comment? Or is this about women who get this far seeking the presidency? Or was this language that has been circulating in private circles for a very long time and now erupted into public but people have heard it so often that they're not surprised by it, and as a result, they don't think we need to talk about it?
I think one way to reframe this is to ask: How would you ask a comparable question about a male candidate you really wanted to defeat? Where would you find comparable language to use?
MOYERS: And where would you? There is no language of degeneration like this that describes men, is there?
JAMIESON: Well, you could say, "How are we going to beat the bastard?" But it wouldn't carry all the same resonances of that word in the context of its use now.
MOYERS: And you couldn't say, "How are we going to defeat the nigger?" How are we going to-- which is the word that was so common when I was growing up in the South. "How are you going to defeat the kike?" referring to Jews -- you wouldn't do -- that woman would not have done that, I don't think.
JAMIESON: Well, and we have -- language is constantly open for discussion. We know what's appropriate and what's inappropriate by the way in which society responds, what our peer group responds, the community we turn to responds. And so when someone uses language that is considered inappropriate and there is a national discussion, we dampen down that use. That's what happened with Imus, who is now just coming back on the air. When something like this happens and we don't have the discussion, we move it into acceptable use.
Among other examples of this "fairly misogynist" discourse, Moyers cited Limbaugh: "[O]n Rush Limbaugh, he talks about Clinton's testicle lockbox." Jamieson later remarked, "Underlying this is a long-lived fear of women in politics." In response, Limbaugh asserted, "Kathleen, I have no fear of women. In Hillary's case, I have huge fear of her policies, and her utter, total demand to control as much of American life as possible based on those policies. And I would also suggest, Kathleen -- and to you, Bill Moyers -- to the extent that I believe that the testicle lockbox exists in a figurative sense, look at whose testicles get snared in that box. Not mine. And nobody on my side. Well, there might be some elected Republicans afraid of her." Limbaugh added, "But it's lib testicles that get ensnared in the testicle lockbox."
From the December 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: You've got to hear this. Friday night, PBS, Bill Moyers Journal, talking with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, University of Pennsylvania. She's a media and speech communication specialist, and I really like her. And they did a report on this program once some years ago which got it dead-on right about who the audience is, why we appeal to people and so forth. It was totally out of the conventional wisdom. I want it said at the outset, I really like Kathleen Hall Jamieson.
And by the way, I did this in 2000 till I was corrected. I made a mistake. I mispronounced Puyallup, Washington. I called it POY-yallup. It's PEW-allup, and I didn't mean to offend anybody up there, and I've not forgotten the appearance, but I've been corrected here about a thousand times via email in the break here, so I wanted to get that straight.
So Bill Moyers talking to Kathleen Hall Jamieson about how the media portrays female candidates like Hillary Clinton, and here's [chuckling] -- remember, this is PBS -- a portion of the exchange.
[begin audio clip]
MOYERS: Limbaugh, he talks about Clinton's "testicle lockbox."
JAMIESON: Underlying this is a long-lived fear of women in politics. For example, we know that there's language to condemn female speech that doesn't exist for male speech. We call women's speech shrill and strident, and Hillary Clinton's laugh was being described as a cackle --
JAMIESON: And why we're looking at a laugh and whether it's appropriate or not is of itself an interesting question. We also know that underlying many of these assertions is the assumption that any woman in power will, by necessity, entail emasculating men, and as a result a statement of fundamental threat. So, why shouldn't you vote for Hillary Clinton? [audio break] Explicit statements that suggest castrating, testicles in lockbox. She's going to emasculate men. It's a zero-sum game in which a woman in power necessarily means that men can't be men.
[end audio clip]
LIMBAUGH: Hey Bill, you forgot to also ask Kathleen Hall Jamieson to comment on my reference to Hillary Clinton's Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Your researchers only did half their job.
So, the testicle lockbox is about emasculating -- of course it is! I mean, look at the steely eyed stare. What -- where are
where are the stories have been all over the place this past year that Mrs. Clinton isn't likable, that she is threatening to people, that she -- on her staff, very demanding? And I -- and, you know, here's another thing. If you stop and think about all of the grief that the drive-by media en masse has given [Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice. My gosh, folks, they have cartooned her and caricatured her as an Aunt Jemima, as nothing more than a Bush lapdog. They have written things and drawn things of Condoleezza Rice that, had they been done by a conservative of a liberal black woman, we would still be hearing about it, and that conservative cartoonist would have been drummed out of the media.
So this is very selective, and this is all about protecting Hillary and trying to re-right this train of hers that's gotten off track a little bit here. And they're trying to do it on the basis she's really likable, and it's just a bunch of sexist white guys who have this inordinate fear of women.
Kathleen, I have no fear of women. In Hillary's case, I have huge fear of her policies, and her utter, total demand to control as much of American life as possible based on those policies. And I would also suggest, Kathleen -- and to you, Bill Moyers -- to the extent that I believe that the testicle lockbox exists in a figurative sense, look at whose testicles get snared in that box. Not mine. And nobody on my side. Well, there might be some elected Republicans afraid of her. But it's lib testicles that get ensnared in the testicle lockbox. Moyers. Tim Russert recently got his back! You know, at that debate. He took them back. On the illegal driver's licenses for -- or driver's licenses for illegal aliens. So it's you libs that have checked your testicles at the door, and put them in the lockbox.
There's another sound bite here I don't have time to get into before the break, but we'll do that -- one more from Bill Moyers and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. It's also obvious that there's just no sense of humor on the other side of the aisle. They just -- hey, you know, that's pretty clever. Pretty funny. 'Cause it's an accurate portrayal of the way a lot of people think of Mrs. Clinton. She's got 49 percent negatives. That analysis would never occur to these people, would it?
LIMBAUGH: By the way, on the website tonight, www.rushlimbaugh.com, we're going to have a lot of aerial photos of the 40,000 people in August of 2006 who showed up to see Bill Bennett and me along with John Carlson at Puyallup, Washington. Forty thousand. You'll see the aerial photos. It was an amazing sight.
Here's the second bite with Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Bill Moyers as it continues after the testicle lockbox portion.
[begin audio clip]
MOYERS: Yeah, you can't use your uterus and your brain. That's the old argument, right? You can't be caring and tough. That's the old argument against women, right?
JAMIESON: Well, and at one time, there was actually an argument that if women became educated, they would become infertile. There was also, for a long period of time, serious penalties for women who tried to speak in public. And the residue of this is a language that suggests that women in power cannot be women and be in power. And as a result --
LIMBAUGH: [unintelligible] talking about?
JAMIESON: -- as Hillary certifies herself as being tough enough to be president, competent enough to be president, these attacks say, "Then she can't be president because she's not actually a woman." [audio break] One of the questions that I find interesting is this hypothetical. Let's say that [Sen.] Elizabeth Dole [R-NC] was this far along in the polls for the Republican nomination. Would she be subject to the same kinds of attacks? And I think the answer is no.
[end audio clip]
LIMBAUGH: The same kinds of attacks? They'd be worse! I again call your attention to what they've done to Condoleezza Rice. They may not be testicle lockbox-oriented. They'd be oriented towards something else. She'd be a puppet of her husband. But this notion that people like me and you have some fear or bias against women -- I would have voted for [late British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher every chance I had, had I been a Brit. I would have voted for [late U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] Jeane Kirkpatrick for president had she sought the office. We all have tremendous respect for Golda Meir, who ran Israel for awhile. This is just such a straw dog argument, and it simply emanates from the cliches that these liberals have of conservatives, and that is racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe.
Moyers then asked Kathleen Hall Jamieson, "How does this make you feel as a woman?"
[begin audio clip]
MOYERS: How does this make you feel as a woman?
JAMIESON: Professional women who see this happening have had enough professional experiences in their lives to realize that these sorts of sentiments are actually out there and have probably experienced some of these sorts of things. And the question that it raises for me is, you know, as this happens nationally, and as moderate Republican women become more aware of it, do they increase their identification with Hillary Clinton or not?
These kinds of characterizations of Hillary Clinton have been out there is to look to other forms of media throughout the 1990s where we do, indeed, find them. Hillary Clinton as dominatrix, for example, is one of the ongoing themes and one of the parodies on Rush Limbaugh.
[end audio clip]
LIMBAUGH: [laughing] Parodies. Parodies. It's called laughter. But all great comedy in order to be comedy has to have an element of truth. This is what makes it funny. I know, nobody gets upset over the parodies of men. Nobody gets upset over the parodies of men -- because there's -- lookit, you have to understand what's happening here.
Her campaign's in a free fall in a lot of places -- or at least the perception is that it's in free fall, and they're trying to build her back up. But I'll tell you, you can go back to [talk-show host] Oprah [Winfrey] and [presidential candidate and Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL]. You know what the biggest threat to Hillary from Oprah is, is white women. It's white women that watch Oprah. It's white women that they're concerned about in the Hillary camp now that the "Big O" has gotten involved.
Here's Moyers to wrap it up.
MOYERS [audio clip]: And you couldn't say, "How are we going to defeat the nigger?" How are we going to -- which is the word that was so common when I was growing up in the South. "How are you going to defeat the kike?" referring to Jews -- you wouldn't do -- that woman would not have done that, I don't think.
LIMBAUGH: I have no idea what he's talking about. I do -- I'm pretty sure he's lost his mind. Meanwhile, they accuse us of saying those words and harboring those thoughts, and now look who's out saying them on PBS.
To the phones quickly. This is [caller] in Morrisville, North Carolina. Glad you called, sir. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Oh, Rush. I'm a trucker. I'm on the road, and I don't want you to think you've won me over or anything, but I have been a fan of [former Atlanta mayor and former congressman] Andrew Young for many years, and it is gone now. I am done with him. I am sick, sick to my stomach right now. I could spit fire. What he said regarding Bill Clinton having been with more black women than Obama is first insulting and demeaning to black women, first of all. Next of all, it should reflect on what kind of man Bill Clinton is. I am now disgusted with the whole Clinton family. I hate to say that.
You haven't won me over, but I'm just letting you know, I am right now as angry as I could ever be --
LIMBAUGH: [Caller] --
CALLER: -- at Mr. Andrew Young. I don't even want to say his name.
LIMBAUGH: I may not have won you over, but I'm close.