Limbaugh distorts discussion between Brokaw and Rose to assert they were "trying to figure out who Obama is"

››› ››› GREG LEWIS

Rush Limbaugh played an audio clip "montage" from Charlie Rose's interview of Tom Brokaw, in which Limbaugh asserted that Rose and Brokaw were "trying to figure out who Obama is." In fact, Limbaugh heavily edited the clip, at one point falsely suggesting that Brokaw expressed the opinion that "there's a lot about him [Obama] that we don't know," when in fact Brokaw attributed that assertion to "conservative commentators."

During the October 31 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh played an audio clip "montage" from the October 30 edition of PBS' Charlie Rose in which Limbaugh asserted that Rose and his guest, NBC Meet the Press host Tom Brokaw, were "trying to figure out who [Sen. Barack] Obama is." In fact, Limbaugh cropped the clip, distorting what Rose and Brokaw said, at one point falsely suggesting that Brokaw expressed the view that "there's a lot about him [Obama] that we don't know," when in fact Brokaw attributed that assertion to "conservative commentators."

Limbaugh played audio of Rose and Brokaw stating that they don't know Obama's "worldview":

ROSE: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.

BROKAW: No, I don't know either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is.

Rose and Brokaw actually expressed uncertainty about both Obama's and Sen. John McCain's worldviews (segments played by Limbaugh in bold):

ROSE: I care about a almost as much as you do in terms of being a political junkie, but there are questions you don't know in terms of -- I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is, I really don't know.

BROKAW: No, no, I don't either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is and where it wants to go and how smart he is about that, or India, or the whole global structure.

BROKAW: Well, one of the things that.

ROSE: And -- or John McCain either.

BROKAW: Yes, one of things I tried to get at in the national debate, and they began to answer it a little bit, which was -- which I think is an important question, what is the Obama doctrine and the McCain doctrine when there is a humanitarian crisis?

Limbaugh also edited a clip to falsely suggest that Brokaw stated as a matter of his own opinion that "[t]here is a lot about him [Obama] we don't know." In fact, Brokaw attributed that position to "conservative commentators." From Limbaugh's audio clip:

ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

BROKAW: There is a lot about him we don't know.

In fact, Brokaw said "there are conservative commentators who say there is a lot about him we don't know because we haven't asked enough tough questions." Further, Brokaw did not respond to Rose's question about "heroes of Barack Obama" in the manner Limbaugh presented; Brokaw actually responded that the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall is "a big hero" of Obama's. Brokaw's assertion "there is a lot about him we don't know" was made at a different point in the discussion, and, again, in making the statement, Brokaw was not expressing his own opinion.

From Charlie Rose (segments played by Limbaugh in bold):

ROSE: Exactly, two of them, two books. What do you make of him? Tell me what you see there. Because I was talking to a friend of mine, and he said, I see someone who is clearly aspirational, someone who is clearly bright, someone who is clearly ambitious in the best sense of that, but who is clearly cautious, and in the end, he may very well be a man of the center.

BROKAW: He is a very interesting figure in American politics. He has made very few false steps along the way, when you think about this long, difficult road that he has been on. Against the Clinton machine first, and the appearances he has made all over the country.

Sure, he has hit some speed bumps and there are conservative commentators who say there is a lot about him we don't know because we haven't asked enough tough questions, the Bill Ayers relationship, even those who say we've got to go back and explore what his drug use was.

[...]

ROSE: All right. We know people sometimes buy the books that they read, heroes they have, we know John McCain, for example, enormously admires Teddy Roosevelt, probably more than anyone else in a political sense. And really wanted to run a campaign in which Teddy would be his model, Teddy Roosevelt.

What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama, like the books?

BROKAW: Well, he -- Thurgood Marshall is a big hero of his. He has got a picture of him in his office.

ROSE: Now was that because of his central role in arguing Brown versus Board of Education?

BROKAW: Well, I think that remember Barack Obama went to Harvard Law School and taught at the University of Chicago, and there was no greater legal figure in the African-American community, or (INAUDIBLE) signs when America was changing than Thurgood Marshall. So that makes perfect sense.

From the October 31 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:*

LIMBAUGH: Now, on Charlie Rose show last night on PBS -- are they doing their pledge drive yet? PBS doing their -- because you know, without your pledge, we cannot dust. He had on Tom Brokaw last night, ladies and gentlemen. Here's a montage -- now, this is last night. As you listen to this, keep in mind everything you've heard from Brokaw and others in the drive-bys for the past six months, three months, two months, or whatever. This is a montage of Charlie Rose and Brokaw trying to figure out who Obama is.

[begin audio clip]

ROSE: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.

BROKAW: No, I don't know either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is.

BROKAW: We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.

ROSE: I don't really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising them?

BROKAW: You know, that's an interesting question.

ROSE: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational speeches.

BROKAW: Two of them. And I don't know what kind of books he's read.

ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

BROKAW: There's a lot about him we don't know.

[end audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: Incredible. That's just -- let's send a journalist to find out. Why, have you guys ever thought of that, Tom? Have you ever thought about sending a reporter to find out who the guy is? Charlie, you got plenty of reporters there at PBS, at least on the radio. Have you ever thought about sending someone out to find out who he is, besides the two books? I cannot believe this. We know who his heroes are, and of course, that's the point. We know who his heroes are, we know who his alliances are with. We know who his friends are. We know that he chose them all. But to hear this -- this is last night. This is, what, four days, five days before the election. These are two of Obama's biggest media supporters. You gotta -- I gotta hear this again. This is hilarious. If it weren't so damn maddening, because the answer to this is -- hey, Tom, talk to the bureau chief in Washington, the new guy who replaced [Tim] Russert. What you do is you assign a reporter to go out and find out who Obama is.

[begin audio clip]

ROSE: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.

BROKAW: No, I don't know either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is.

BROKAW: We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.

ROSE: I don't really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising them?

BROKAW: You know, that's an interesting question.

ROSE: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational speeches.

BROKAW: Two of them. And I don't know what kind of books he's read.

ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

BROKAW: There's a lot about him we don't know.

[end audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: Well we know one of his heroes is a member of the Communist Party, Frank Davis, mentored him in Hawaii. There's a lot we know, Tom. Does this not ice it? Does this not ice it? We know as much as can be known about Obama, far more than he wants us to know, and here are these two pillars of drive by journalism, "Oh no, I don't know, interesting question, Charlie. It's an interesting question." I just think -- that's true, two pillars of journalism. One has an audience and one doesn't. But it doesn't matter, they're both still pillars.

From the October 30 broadcast of PBS' Charlie Rose, taken from the Nexis database:*

BROKAW: Now John McCain, when I asked him the other day about defending her, he said, not just defending her.

ROSE: I know, he said that in.

BROKAW: I admire her and wanted to make that clear. So he is not backing away in any way.

ROSE: All right. Barack Obama, we know his him because he has been in the public view for a long time. He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational speeches.

BROKAW: Two of them.

ROSE: Exactly, two of them, two books. What do you make of him? Tell me what you see there. Because I was talking to a friend of mine, and he said, I see someone who is clearly aspirational, someone who is clearly bright, someone who is clearly ambitious in the best sense of that, but who is clearly cautious, and in the end, he may very well be a man of the center.

BROKAW: He is a very interesting figure in American politics. He has made very few false steps along the way, when you think about this long, difficult road that he has been on. Against the Clinton machine first, and the appearances he has made all over the country.

Sure, he has hit some speed bumps and there are conservative commentators who say there is a lot about him we don't know because we haven't asked enough tough questions, the Bill Ayers relationship, even those who say we've got to go back and explore what his drug use was.

ROSE: Even though Senator McCain had a chance to do that very thing and ask him about it in one of the debates.

BROKAW: And did not. He chose not to go there. And look, he is a very smart guy, I love this phrase "postmodern," even though I don't know what it means.

[...]

ROSE: All right. We know people sometimes buy the books that they read, heroes they have, we know John McCain, for example, enormously admires Teddy Roosevelt, probably more than anyone else in a political sense. And really wanted to run a campaign in which Teddy would be his model, Teddy Roosevelt.

What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama, like the books?

BROKAW: Well, he -- Thurgood Marshall is a big hero of his. He has got a picture of him in his office.

ROSE: Now was that because of his central role in arguing Brown versus Board of Education?

BROKAW: Well, I think that remember Barack Obama went to Harvard Law School and taught at the University of Chicago, and there was no greater legal figure in the African-American community, or (INAUDIBLE) signs when America was changing than Thurgood Marshall. So that makes perfect sense.

You know, it is an interesting question. I don't know what books he has read. I know that he has got a great curious mind. So does John McCain, by the way, he has always got a book in his hand. Mark Salter, who is a first-rate writer, is his --

ROSE: And his best friend, yes, right.

BROKAW: -- alter ego, and they are trading book ideas constantly. So that is an interesting question.

[...]

ROSE: Foreign policy, economic crisis will stand out, but there is also enormous challenge here, have we had a serious debate about foreign policy in this country?

BROKAW: No. We have not had -- there are a number of issues that have not come up. John McCain believes in the league of democracy, putting together a separate group to push against Russia. Charles Krauthammer wrote that that was -- he couldn't say, and I can, as Charles put it, he said, that is designed to kill the United Nations, which is a good idea, we need to examine that very carefully.

We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy. China has been not examined at all.

ROSE: At all.

BROKAW: Which is astonishing.

ROSE: But do we know about what they think? I mean, it is more likely we we'll know more about John McCain, because he has been speaking about foreign policy, just over a longer time. But I really don't know -- and do we know anything about the people who are advising them, I mean, in terms of whether Susan Rice and where they are? And then who -- do we know who might populate these governments?

BROKAW: Tony Lake, who worked in the Clinton administration, Dick Holbrooke, obviously, is eager to be involved in the briefings. There are some kind of neutral foreign policy specialists in the academies and in the Council of Foreign Relations that Barack Obama has been reaching out to.

John McCain has been reaching out to those think tanks and institutions that are --

ROSE: AEI and others.

BROKAW: -- right-of-center. So, sure, we do know -- who do we know is going to land as secretary of state? No, I don't think we know that yet. I had Colin Powell on 10 days ago, who was endorsing Obama at that time, and I raised with him the idea of going back into government service.

[...]

ROSE: I mean, Time magazine did a cover story called "Does Temperament Matter?", which is part of that -- I mean, part of that because it is said -- I mean, there are so many things that I don't know, you know, in terms of the make-up of -- we have gone through this long campaign.

I care about a almost as much as you do in terms of being a political junkie, but there are questions you don't know in terms of -- I don't know what Barack Obama's world view is, I really don't know.

BROKAW: No, no, I don't either.

ROSE: I don't know how he really sees where China is and where it wants to go and how smart he is about that, or India, or the whole global structure.

BROKAW: Well, one of the things that.

ROSE: And -- or John McCain either.

BROKAW: Yes, one of things I tried to get at in the national debate, and they began to answer it a little bit, which was -- which I think is an important question, what is the Obama doctrine and the McCain doctrine when there is a humanitarian crisis?

We are going through one this week in the Congo again. I raised the Congo as an example of that. And the use of American military forces to intervene if we have no national security stake in all of that. And they both said in kind of the broadest possible terms, well, we should help out.

But you didn't get the impression that they were going to go pull the trigger on that in the next day. That is an important discussion for this country to have.

ROSE: Well, and if you look at Rwanda and where you have been, I remember at some point I saw you off on a trip to Rwanda, I think, and the former secretary-general of the United Nations has said, we made mistakes. The president of the United States has said, we made mistakes.

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