Rush Limbaugh is a gifted entertainer who has a propensity to say some pretty ridiculous things. That being said, it is pretty hard to be on the radio for three hours per day and not say some ridiculous things, especially when you have to appease an audience that feeds off of ridiculous things.
On Saturday Rush stepped in it again. I am an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal, and the Saturday edition included an op-ed piece under Rush’s by-line complaining that he was kicked out of the group that was attempting to buy the St. Louis Rams. What caused his expulsion? You guessed it – the liberal media and its normal sources, including Al Sharpton. Here is what Rush said about Sharpton:
In 1998 Mr. Sharpton was found guilty of defamation and ordered to pay $65,000 for falsely accusing a New York prosecutor of rape in the 1987 Tawana Brawley case. He also played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot (he called neighborhood Jews "diamond merchants") and 1995 Freddie’s Fashion Mart riot.
He added these words at the end of the op-ed piece:
There is a contempt in the news business, including the sportswriter community, for conservatives that reflects the blind hatred espoused by Messrs. Sharpton and Jackson. "Racism" is too often their sledgehammer.
Sharpton did not appreciate these words – and denies that he played any role in the riots. Here is what the AP reported:
Sharpton was not present for or involved in the rioting in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights section in August 1991, during which hundreds of blacks were involved in attacks on the neighborhood’s Jewish residents. He did deliver a eulogy at the funeral of the youth whose death in a traffic accident triggered the violence, but that didn’t happen until the violence ended.
Sharpton also wasn’t present on Dec. 8, 1995, when a lone, black gunman burst into Freddie’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned business in Harlem, started shooting and set the building on fire. Seven people died. There was no riot.
Sharpton’s organization had, like other black groups, been involved in picketing the business over its plans to expand into space occupied by a black-owned business, but he said he couldn’t be blamed for the madman’s rampage.
Sharpton says that he is going to sue Rush for defamation if he (Al) doesn’t receive an apology. Sharpton is almost certainly a public figure and, in fact, his feelings would be hurt if he was not. Thus, he would have to prove that Rush acted with actual malice to prove a defamation claim. This is a difficult burden, but if anyone can be found of speaking with malice it is Rush: it oozes from almost every word he speaks.
So, will Rush apologize? He will support cap-and-trade legislation before he apologizes to Sharpton. Will Sharpton file suit? My guess is that he will. Sharpton clearly enjoys a good, public fight, and he will view this as his opportunity to attempt to weaken Rush. That will not occur. Those who love Rush could care less if he had his facts wrong about Sharpton. Those that don’t care for him have more important things to do than think about Sharpton’s lawsuit.
That being said, I would find it interesting to know what research Rush did before making his accusations against Sharpton. If the AP article is correct, Rush has some explaining to do.