Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace dedicated the first half of his November 1 program to an interview with radio host Rush Limbaugh, during which Wallace allowed and in some cases prompted Limbaugh to advance numerous misleading, baseless, or outrageous claims, as well as engage in inflammatory attacks on President Obama.
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Limbaugh repeats false, misleading, and baseless claims without challenge
Limbaugh repeats discredited claim that individual health care mandate is unconstitutional. Limbaugh responded to Wallace's question about whether he thought the "individual mandate is constitutional" by stating, "No. ... I do not think it's constitutional. Chris, this is -- these are dark days for the country. This is deadly serious stuff. This is a total attempt to remake the country as founded and constituted. And it worries me greatly." Several other conservative media outlets including The Washington Times and Fox News have pushed the claim that health care reform proposals under consideration by Congress are unconstitutional.
In fact, legal experts have disputed claim that individual mandate is unconstitutional. In an October 23 Politico piece, University of California, Irvine law professor Erwin Chemerinsky stated, "Under an unbroken line of precedents stretching back 70 years, Congress has the power to regulate activities that, taken cumulatively, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce." According to Slate.com's Timothy Noah, Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar and Fordham Law School dean William Treanor debunked conservatives' argument that the individual mandate could be considered a "taking" in violation of the Fifth Amendment, noting that such a policy is permissible under the Commerce Clause. George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, who served as Republican Sen. John Cornyn's special counsel for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation proceedings, has responded to a similar claim made by Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano by stating that Naplitano's argument that "President Obama's health care proposals are unconstitutional because they exceed the commerce clause power" was filled with "errors, misstatements, and plainly weak claims."
Limbaugh claimed Obama administration has "destroyed jobs," "lost 3.3 million jobs" since stimulus passed. From the November 1 edition of Fox News Sunday:
LIMBAUGH: I mean, just a couple days ago, they talked about these 650,000 jobs that they've created or saved. There's no such thing as a saved job. Besides that, they've destroyed jobs. They've lost 3.3 million jobs in this country since Obama's stimulus plan, and it's going to get worse.
In fact, the recession that began in 2007, not Obama's policies, continues to drive job losses. Contrary to Limbaugh's assertion that job losses this year resulted from Obama administration policies, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the trend of increasing unemployment resulting from the recession that began in December 2007 took root long before Obama was elected or inaugurated. From BLS labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey:
Unemployment data suggest job losses are slowing. Limbaugh asserted that the Obama administration has "lost 3.3 million jobs in this country since Obama's stimulus plan, and it's going to get worse." In fact, job losses have generally slowed since January. From BLS seasonally adjusted payroll employment data through September:
Rush repeats baseless theory on Obama administration blocking NFL bid. Limbaugh also repeated his baseless claim that the Obama administration played a role killing his bid to purchase a stake in the St. Louis Rams. After asserting that NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith "is Obama," Limbaugh claimed that the controversy surrounding the bid was due to upcoming contract negotiations between the league and the players association, saying that Smith "has suggested that the Congress, the White House might get involved to stop a player -- an owner lockout." Limbaugh speculated: "So, I think -- and he got involved in this, too, you know? He was out participating in the spreading of quotes I didn't say, warning Goodell and the owners what might -- I think this was a warning shot across the bow saying to the NFL, 'Look, we're going to be close to running this league, not you. We don't want this guy here.' "
Wallace ignored Limbaugh's history of racially charged comments. Wallace ignored Limbaugh's extensive history of making racially charged remarks about minorities. For instance, Limbaugh stated in 2007: "Look it, let me put it to you this way. The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There I said it." Additionally, Limbaugh has referred to Obama's economic policies as "reparations"; said that "[w]e're being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black, because this is the first black president"; and said that "in Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering."
Limbaugh attacked Obama as a radical "man-child" who is "destroying" the economy
Limbaugh's explained his labeling of Obama as "the man-child president." Wallace said to Limbaugh, "You have now taken to calling Mr. Obama 'the man-child president,' " and asked, "What does that mean?" Rush then explained: "Just -- he's immature. He's a child. I think he's -- he's got a five-minute career. He was in the Senate for 150 days. He was a community organizer in Chicago for however number of years. He really has no experience running anything. He's very young. I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. I think he's very narcissistic. And he's able to focus all attention on him all the time. That description is simply a way to cut through the noise and say he's immature, inexperienced, in over his head." As Media Matters has documented, Limbaugh has repeatedly referred to Obama as a "boy" and a "man-child." [Fox News Sunday, 11/1/09]
Limbaugh compares himself to Paul Revere, warning of the "potential threat[s] to liberty and freedom being launched by" Obama. After predicting that Obama would be a one-term president, Limbaugh said that if Obama were elected to a second term, "it would be painful. It would literally be painful. This is -- every day, you get up and there's a new potential threat to liberty and freedom being launched by this man and his administration. ... I'm in radio, and some days, I feel like I'm in the trenches in a war -- no bullets being fired, but trenches in a war. I mean, it's really intense when -- you know, I love this country. To have this kind of passion, and my -- you know, I want -- Paul Revere. I want as many people to hear what I think the problems are, because I believe the people of this country eventually will make it work and get what they want. I do believe in the democratic process and the vote." [Fox News Sunday, 11/1/09]
Limbaugh said he doesn't "think" that Obama "cares much" about Afghanistan and called Obama's trip to Dover a "photo op." Wallace said to Limbaugh: "You suggest that he [Obama] is taking all of this time to decide what to do in Afghanistan to keep his left-wing base on board for health care reform." Limbaugh replied: 'Well, it's partly that, but I also don't think he cares much about it." Wallace later asked, "Do you at least give him credit for going to Dover, Delaware, to honor the remains of soldiers, dead soldiers, who came back from Afghanistan?" In response, Limbaugh dismissed Obama's actions as a "photo op," saying, "It was a photo op. It was a photo op precisely because he's having big-time trouble on this whole Afghanistan dithering situation. ... And of course, when you have a sycophantic media following you around, able to promote and amplify whatever you want, then he can create the impression that he has all this great concern." [Fox News Sunday, 11/1/09]
Limbaugh on what his first question to Obama would be: "[W]hat do you not like about this country that makes you want to inflict this kind of damage on it?" Reading a question from a viewer, Wallace asked Limbaugh: "If President Obama would agree to an interview, what would be your first question?" Limbaugh replied: "Why are you doing this? Why? What in -- what do you not like about this country that makes you want to inflict this kind of damage on it?" [Fox News Sunday, 11/1/09]
Limbaugh claimed Obama is "destroying" the "private sector," and "I have to think that it may be on purpose." Wallace asked Limbaugh to comment on what Obama has "done for and to the country" since being elected. Limbaugh replied: "I think it's all 'to.' I don't think there's any 'for.' I'm -- Chris, I'm really, really worried. We've never seen this kind of radical leadership at such a high level of power in the country. I believe that the economy is under siege, is being destroyed. Anybody with any economic literacy would not do one thing this administration's done to try to revitalize the private sector. They're destroying it. And I have to think that it may be on purpose, because this is just outrageous, what is happening -- a denial of liberty, an attack on freedom." [Fox News Sunday, 11/1/09]