Rush Limbaugh vs. Politico ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Sep 30, 2008 2:38 PM

On his radio show this afternoon, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh accused Politico of mischaracterizing his position on House Republicans' bailout vote.

The homepage of Politico today includes a headline reading "Rush mocks House GOP".  Here is a partial screen shot: 
Politico.png

The homepage headline appears to be the most inaccurate and offensive part of the story.  The story goes on to say:

House GOP leadership mocked by Rush

"Rush Limbaugh opened his show today by piling on top of House Republican leadership for claiming that a crucial number of their members voted against the bailout package because of a partisan speech that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave before the roll call.

“C’mon guys. Can ya grow up?” he said. “There were a whole lot of reasons for House Republicans to vote against this thing yesterday.”

He said Democrats never intended to pass it and GOPers likely realized that as they saw Democratic ‘no’ votes piling up during the vote. “It was a set-up from the get-go,” analyzed Limbaugh.

Count Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) as similarly skeptical of the explanation. When asked whether he voted ‘no’ because of the partisan nature of the debate, he told NPR this morning, “No, I was a no vote on the basic package from day one. I couldn’t tell you who those twelve were on either side of the aisle.”

Limbaugh accused The Politico of mischaracterizing his comments -- which were actually directed at conservative media who were criticizing House Republicans.

On his show today, Limbaugh noted that when he said things like, "grow up" -- Rush was criticizing conservative media, such as NRO -- and defending House Republicans. 

"I have been the one supporting them without wavering here ... and the Politico comes out and says I've mocked them," Limbaugh angrily said on his show today.

He described this mischaracterization of him as part of,
"... an ongoing effort to dispirit Republicans in the House for hanging tough.  I assure you ... do you realize where we'd be if these guys had caved," Limbaugh said.

"Politico has become Media Matters here," said Limbaugh.

Update:  A source tells me this may be a misunderstanding.  Rush led off his show by mocking House GOP leadership spin that members changed votes because of Pelosi's speech.  He praised GOP rank and file.  As such, the headline on the actual story page was accurate ("House GOP leadership mocked by Rush").  However, Rush took offense at the abbreviated headline prominently featured on the homepage, which read:  "Rush mocks House GOP".  The Politico has since unpdated the homepage headline to more accurately read:  "Rush mocks GOP leadership spin."

Update:  Politico posted the following update:

In response to the dozens of e-mails coming in, I changed the headline to make it clear that Limbaugh was mocking GOP House leadership for the Pelosi explanation, not the House Republican rank and file. To the many people who have asked: No, I have no intention of moving back to Russia. [# More #]

Also, when a transcript or audio is available, I'll post it immediately.

UPDATE II: Here's a partial transcript of what Limbaugh said on his show in response to this post. In the transcript, Limbaugh is clearly disagreeing with House GOP leadership's claim that House Republicans switched their vote because of Pelosi's partisan speech. And he's also mocking conservative media for believing House Republican leadership. Limbaugh is telling the conservative media to 'grow up' and not believe what House Republican leadership was saying about the vote.

From Limbaugh's show: "The Republicans in Congress I think went out there and said some things about Pelosi’s speech yesterday that a lot of Republicans, a lot of conservatives said, ‘C’mon you guys, can you grow up? Don’t tell us you changed your vote on saving the country because Pelosi delivered a partisan speech--frankly people writing at the Corner at National Review Online, conservative media.’

"Then I resume speaking for myself: ‘I frankly think that’s what they said. But I don’t think that’s at all why they changed their vote, if they changed their vote at all. I think that’s what they went out there and said. I was defending them. I was not accusing them of being childish. I was not mocking them. I was being critical of our own media for mocking them. When what happened here was the failure of the thing was planned--that Pelosi wanted it to go down the tubes. Now, I acknowledge that the Republicans went out there and made the speech—or made the comments that Pelosi’s partisan speech had an effect on this—but then in the very comment I say here, ‘That’s not why they changed their vote.’ I defended them. They changed their vote because the saw what Democrats were doing." 

So while it's clear that I missed the context of his critique of the conservative media -- which I regret -- it's equally clear that he's going after House GOP leadership by saying that they have so little credibility that it's mockable for the conservative media to believe what they say.

UPDATE III: From Rush's site, here's what he said:

The Republicans in Congress, I think went out there and said some things about Pelosi's speech yesterday that a lot of Republicans, a lot of conservatives, "Come on, you guys, can you grow up? Don't tell us that you changed your vote on saving the country because Pelosi delivered a partisan speech." I, frankly, think that's what they said, but I don't think that's at all why they changed their vote, if they changed their vote at all. I think that's what they went out there and said.

The speech by Pelosi was irresponsible. She is stupid. One trillion of wealth was lost yesterday with that 777-point drop. But it's coming a little bit today as it's up 264 points at the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Now, I think what happened -- this is pure politics -- the Republicans in the House are sitting there watching the vote go, and they're seeing all these Democrats vote "no." Do you know that 12 members of Barney Frank's committee voted "no"? Barney Frank wasn't running around trying to change any votes. So the Republicans are watching all these Democrats vote "no" after being told all week it was their responsibility to join with Democrats to make this happen, and after knowing full well that the Democrats really wanted this to happen, they could have passed it on their own without Republican help. That was the spin. And then they sit there and they see all these Democrats voting against it, voting nay, and they say, wait a minute, what's happening here, and they figured it out. They figured out that the vast majority of public opinion around the country is dead set opposed to this, isn't even close, and they see Democrats in crucially close districts voting against it so they can run around and campaign, "I voted against that bailout, I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but our Republicans voted for it."

It was a setup from the get-go, and however it is that the Republicans decided to change votes or to vote against it, it was the wise and smart thing to do.