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Defend Rush Limbaugh to Protect Free Speech

Christopher Ruddy By Tuesday, 03 April 2012 07:11 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Christopher Ruddy's Perspective: It is a remarkable testament to Rush Limbaugh’s broadcasting acumen that in nearly 25 years as a national radio host, the worst mistake he’s made is his recent comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke.

Think of it. Three hours a day, five days a week, almost a quarter of a century (roughly 20,000 hours) of air time – and the liberal establishment wants to get America’s most-listened-to radio host off the air for a comment he’s completely apologized for!

It has become clear that the key issue here is not what Limbaugh said, but the Obama White House’s desire to use Rush and this controversy to help the president’s re-election come November.

The Obama narrative being peddled to the media is that Republicans oppose women, especially younger women, on issues they care about, such as reproductive freedom.

Obama's camp has fanned the flames of this matter because it will lose the male vote in November’s general election. But it appears the president may do extremely well among women.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll of voters in 12 battleground states shows Obama leading GOP front-runner Mitt Romney by 18 percentage points among women voters, and by a 2-to-1 margin among women under age 50.

Opportunistic politician Obama was quick to capitalize on Limbaugh’s attack on Fluke. On March 2, just two days after Rush called the law student a “slut” for her speech before House Democrats in support of free contraceptives, the president phoned Fluke to thank her for speaking out on the issue, and a White House spokesman said Limbaugh’s comments were “reprehensible.”

After Rush’s sincere apology — and the fact so many liberal commentators have said far worse without apology — this brouhaha should have passed.

But the White House is intent on not allowing the controversy to simply fade away. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dredged up the issue again in comments aired on MSNBC on Monday, calling Limbaugh’s remarks a “verbal assault” on Fluke.

Clinton also said she was “very encouraged” by the response to Limbaugh’s comments, which included calls for an advertiser boycott of his show and even his removal from the airwaves.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Obama campaign is scoring a short-term gain here. But, in the long term, we all are at risk when any individual’s free speech is endangered.

Liberals are usually quick to defend free speech — except when it is used to express views they oppose.

Case in point: Two icons of the liberal feminist establishment, Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem, even called for Limbaugh’s firing over his on-air remarks.

In an op-ed written for CNN, the two women and an associate in the Women’s Media Center actually went so far as to liken Limbaugh to Hitler’s propagandist Josef Goebbels because, they said, he labels all of his enemies as “sub-human.”

They called on the FCC to investigate if the stations carrying Limbaugh’s show are using their broadcasting licenses “in the public interest,” adding that he is not “constitutionally entitled to the people’s airwaves.”

Comparing Rush Limbaugh to one of Hitler’s henchman is outrageous, of course. But so is any attempt to muzzle conservative voices when they are so outnumbered by media outlets on the left.

No one has ever stopped liberal hosts from broadcasting on radio. Liberal Air America network went bankrupt due to poor ratings and the fact the marketplace doesn’t support such programming. But liberals still have taxpayer-aided NPR, and the great majority of major media outlets lean left.

That’s what drives Americans to tune in to Limbaugh’s show — and to cable giant Fox News and websites like Newsmax — to get the other side of the story they don’t think they get from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, et al.

Today, for political expediency, liberal groups are backing boycotts of Rush’s advertisers. It’s a dangerous path to victimize free speech in the political process.

I have always avoided media boycotts, regardless if they are against a liberal or conservative voice, for this very reason.

And the issue here is not about Rush Limbaugh, Barack Obama, Sandra Fluke, or Jane Fonda. It is about the duty of all Americans to safeguard one of our most precious assets, a vibrant free speech, even if a controversial host makes a mistake once every 25 years.

Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc. Read more Christopher Ruddy Insider articles — Click Here Now.

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Tuesday, 03 April 2012 07:11 PM
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