See, Rush, This Is Why A Lot Of People Don’t Trust You

It doesn't matter what you do, Bob...there's no pleasing Rush.

It doesn’t matter what you do, Bob…there’s no pleasing Rush.

This afternoon, Rush Limbaugh was mocking Bob Shieffer, of all people, for calling out White House lackey Dan Pfeiffer for his various attempts to deflect the Obama scandal barrage.  During the appearance of Pfeiffer as a White House spokesman on “Face the Nation,” Shieffer said,

“You know, I don’t want to compare this in any way to Watergate. I do not think this is Watergate by any stretch. But you weren’t born then I would guess, but I have to tell you that is exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took. They said, “These are all second-rate things. We don’t have time for this. We have to devote our time to the people’s business.” You’re taking exactly the same line they did….and I don’t mean to be argumentative here, but the President is in charge of the executive branch of the government. It’s my, I’ll just make this as an assertion: when the executive branch does things right, there doesn’t seem to be any hesitancy of the White House to take credit for that. When Osama bin Laden was killed, the President didn’t waste any time getting out there and telling people about it. But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don’t even seem to know what has happened. And I use as an example of that Susan Rice who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens, and I’m not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed….But what I’m saying to you is that was just PR. That was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn’t the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, “We don’t know yet?” Why didn’t the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?”

I’ve given Shieffer Ethics Hero status for this. Admittedly, in a competent, ethical journalistic environment, such a response to an obvious flack job like what Pfeiffer was peddling would be standard operating procedure, and with a Republican scandal-ridden White House, it might be. The news media’s pro-Obama bias is so strong, however, that Shieffer’s words are welcome, unusual and praiseworthy. So what were Rush’s objections?

  • Sheiffer made a point of saying that this wasn’t Watergate (“…because that’s a Republican scandal, so that was much worse,” said Rush in his all-purpose biased media figure impression.). Well, it isn’t Watergate, much as conservatives would like it to be. Nixon obstructed justice and covered up criminal activity, was part of a discussion of bribes, and hid evidence from Congress. Calling a Washington scandal like Watergate is cheap, and the equivalent of comparing a leader to Hitler. Shieffer should have made that distinction. He also pointed out, correctly, that Obama’s White House was using the same deflection tactics as Nixon’s, and suggesting that this is ominous.
  • Rush objected to Shieffer’s tone,which he characterized as deferential and apologetic for daring to be critical. Nonsense. Shieffer was polite, as he usually is. Being civil is not a valid basis for criticism.
  • “Why not get in an argument with him about the talking points?” Rush asked. What’s Rush complaining about? What Shieffer said was much stronger, essentially conceding that the White House was still in denial mode, but asserting that from his vantage point, Susan Rice, what “told the American people that day” on Shieffer’s program  “bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed.” He knows the White House has been ducking and weaving on that issue and said, essentially, that he doesn’t want to hear it. Good for him.
  • “Finally, Bob is forced to acknowledge what I’ve been saying all along: there is no such thing as responsibility in Washington,” said Rush. Really? I think he was asking the White House why there was no responsibility or transparency there

You know, Rush, if you slam the people you don’t like when they do the wrong thing, then slam them when they do the right thing too, it becomes clear that you don’t really care about right and wrong as much as you care about slamming the people you don’t like. Don’t you see that this is exactly the same ethical flaw as always praising and defending a President one likes, no matter what he actually does?


65 thoughts on “See, Rush, This Is Why A Lot Of People Don’t Trust You

  1. Agree with most your points, but I do think comparisons to Watergate are appropriate. “Nixon obstructed justice (check) and covered up criminal activity (allegedly check), was part of a discussion of bribes (haven’t seen much of this -yet. Why should he have to bribe anyone when they’re all working towards the same goal?), and hid evidence from Congress (Oh, Goodness gracious yes. Check).” And THEN the layer of how he is responding to the scandals is right off of Nixon’s desk…

    Argumentum ad Hitlerum is only a fallacy when you seek to demean the opponent’s argument by tying the argument to the ultimate enemy. (You know who ELSE was a vegetarian/painted pictures/breathed air? Hitler!) When a leader is actually behaving like Hitler (and I am not here making the argument that Obama has or is) then comparisons to Hitler are completely appropriate. If Obama passed a law consigning conservatives to death camps (Again, not that he would or is), then comparison with Hitler is completely valid. Same with comparisons to Watergate.

    • Do you remember Watergate? Until there is evidence that Obama was leading the way—and if he was, it was a first for him— that comparison is off the table. Nixon knew how to be President; he was a hands on, skilled leader. Obama gives speeches, lets his underlings run amuck, and complains. No fair comparison at all.

      • Obama is Chicago Mob. They have an Omerta system. The leader gives general commands to underlings of what he wants done. He then deliberately has them be quiet about the details. That way, he can use half-truths to say he didn’t know anything. Therefore, it’s always some minion that takes the fall, if anyone. The big guy gets to wash his hands clean in time, so it becomes difficult to convict him for anything.

        Perhaps better than comparing Obama to Hitler would be comparing him to Al Capone. Except Obama has men who cover for him so that he can’t be caught over evading taxes the way that was Capone’s downfall. Heck, even Tim Geitner can’t seem to be sent to jail over that.

            • Sure it does. It is the refuge of the weak leader (or lawyer or professional or manager) who doesn’t have the guts or know-how to control and discipline staff, but wants the results. It is the classic dodge of the “good” manager getting unethical demands from above, who doesn’t have the guts to oppose them, but won’t take responsibility for passing the orders along. “Just do what you have to do, and don’t ask permission or tell me what you did.”

              Weak, lazy, manipulated.

              • The contrived ignorance accusation against Obama is that he’s intentionally not knowledgeable to insulate himself from the bad actions. “[G]uts and know-how to control and discipline staff” don’t factor in at all. You’re example of a middle manager not opposing unethical demands is also not appropriate. Obama isn’t a middle manager, he’s president. He’s the one who would be giving the commands.

                • You’re projecting. In that post, I made no allegations about contrived ignorance and Obama, but don’t worry, I will.

                  His general counsel did not tell him about the IRS investigation, and that would be a per se ethical violation—a lawyer MUST tell his client about such things— UNLESS the lawyer had instructions from the client, Obama, NOT to tell him about misconduct below. My answer to you was a general one, again, I didn’t think the question involved Obama. But now that you mention it—his degree of insulation from evidence of wrongdoing is either intentional, in which case he is willfully encouraging unethical conduct, or accidental, in which case he is incompetent. Or his staff didn’t do what they were supposed to do, KEEP HIM INFORMED, which they didn’t do, and thus he should fire them…unless he wants to send the message that he doesn’t want to know about misconduct. Which is both incompetent AND encouraging unethical conduct.

                  They still have jobs.

                  • You’re projecting. In that post, I made no allegations about contrived ignorance and Obama, but don’t worry, I will.

                    The accusation was made by IvanRider to suggest corruption, you simply named it, and then gave it a different meaning. I assumed you were applying it to Obama, as otherwise, your comment didn’t make much sense. In this comment you’ve backed the possibility brought up by IvanRider (“But now that you mention it—his degree of insulation from evidence of wrongdoing is either intentional, in which case he is willfully encouraging unethical conduct”), so i stand by my interpretation of your comment.

                    I actually agree with your option C. Fire, fire, fire.

    • What criminal activity has been alleged?

      I think the real split between this and Watergate is that Watergate was an attempt to subvert the election process. It undermined our trust in the election process.

      • I agree that the current activities were probably not criminal, but the Benghazi misinformation and the IRS interference with conservative C4’s almost certainly had more effect on the outcome of the election than anything Nixon did or tried to do in 1972.

      • Subvert the electoral process…

        You mean like deny 501(c)4 status to over 500 groups that don’t agree with your politics, in several cases by not only demanding information that it is illegal to request, but by targeting individuals and their private businesses with audits?

        Nixon’s people tried to get info on what the other side was going to do/say, Obama’s people were trying to make it so people couldn’t say anything…

        • No tea party groups were denied C4 status. They were given lots of paperwork and their applications were delayed, which is wrong, but the vast majority were approved, some were withdrawn, and some were still pending. The only group to be denied, shockingly, was a progressive group in Maine, Emerge America, which trains Democratic women to run for office.

          • Yes, they were denied – most still haven’t received it. True the Vote specifically has not received their 501(c)4 status, despite having applies over two years ago.

            If you think demands to see everything the members tweet and post on facebook, to know exactly what the meetings consist of, and demanding a list of members is not de facto denials, then you have a very interesting view as to what the government can do regarding speech…

          • What we are seeing, I think, is a deliberate pattern of contrived ignorance. A leader appoints ideologues, he allows a culture to fester that encourages misconduct out of partisan extremism, he makes it clear, or his lackeys do, that he doesn’t want to know about anything legally or ethically questionable that happens that further his agenda, and he is insulated from knowing about it so he has plausible deniability—then again, he isn’t doing his job, either. It’s non-feasance rather than malfeasance, which is involvement by intentional passivity. I think there is very strong evidence that this is what has been going on.

        • Exactly right. It’s the timing that proves it. And if Obama didn’t order people to do it, he is the chief executive, sets the tone, and lets his lackeys do the actual dirty work. I think as investigations go forward, more people will understand that one CAN use the IRS to subvert the electoral process. AND I think they’ll find that the IRS can (and has been) used to intimidate and harass people and organizations who do not agree with the Obama line. (My parents, both liberals and anti-Nixon, were audited by the IRS every single year he was in office… so this is not a new thing, but it’s high time the IRS and a Presidential Administration is called to task on it.)

          Interestingly, I think that when the narcissism and egotism and got so great that the Administration actually went after the PRESS, which has always made knee-jerk excuses for him, that the house of cards began to fall. This story (or these three stories) are far from over…

          Re Rush Limbaugh: this proves, in another way, the danger of such egotism… you can’t get away with everything, Rush, and just because something amuses you, it doesn’t need to go on the air. You lost about 50% of your credibility by going after Shieffer. He asked tough questions and made tough comments. The only difference was that he was professional and a gentleman… you should learn the definition of both.

      • You mean the fake scandal that had the first impeachment of an Illinois Governor and his eventual conviction?

        And no, I was clearly not suggesting the two things were related, merely pointing out at least one instance where bribery may well have occurred. And that ignores the “donate so much money to OfA and get a night’s stay in the White House” issue from a few months back…

  2. I just happened to be driving across town today while Rush’s program was on the radio, when he commented on Schieffer’s questioning of Pfeiffer. You say a couple of things that square with what I was thinking as I listened. Rush seemed to paint himself into a corner by being unduly harsh in criticism of Schieffer, as if Rush believed that Schieffer was determined from the outset to give Pfeiffer, and by extension anyone Pfeiffer is an apologist for, a way out of accountability somehow. If that’s where Rush was coming from, then I do not share with Rush the same paranoia about Schieffer.

    Maybe Rush was annoyed, as I was, by Schieffer’s doublespeak, and parlayed that in the seemingly patented “Rush’s way” into a red-flag alert for partisan media bias and willing, even obsessive, coordination of protectiveness of its, the media’s, liberal/progressive darlings- and favorites-in-power. It did annoy me to hear Schieffer say he generally doesn’t want to make any comparison to Watergate – but then immediately thereafter, point out specifically that the Obama administration’s behavior on at least one matter (Benghazi) has been exactly the same as what the Nixon administration did about Watergate. Then why would Schieffer mention Watergate at all? Just to show off? To be condescending toward Pfeiffer (“…you weren’t born then I would guess,…”)? To insult Pfeiffer? Why the prefatory disclaimer?

    Schieffer’s performance is not suspicious to me, just maybe not as heroic as you judge it. The Obama administration’s performance on the whole is more suspicious to me than was the Nixon administration’s. But, perhaps I am just admitting that my suspicions merely reflect my gullibility then vs. my gullibility now, my confirmation biases then vs. my confirmation biases now, and my level of trust based on perception of Executive Branch competence then vs. my comprehensive distrust based on knowledge of certain Executive Branch incompetence now.

    • Well, he had to invoke Watergate to say, “you’re sounding just like Nixon did during Watergate.” He just as easily could have invoked Clinton, who also used the same tactic. He had to point out he wasn’t making a direct comparison not to sound like Michele Bachmann.

      I didn’t detect any double-speak. It was a very critical comment, delivered nicely.

      • In current times, I value a less polite, more blunt approach by a veteran of the media. Schieffer was too polite; that is my criticism of him. He missed a perfect opportunity to adapt the classic Ted Koppel-to-Al Campanis moment: “The way you [Pfeiffer] and this administration are ducking and deflecting and spinning and downplaying about Benghazi is the same garbage the Nixon administration tried to feed the public about Watergate, 40 years ago. Are you going to sit there and say yet again that there is no one at any level in the administration who is responsible for the deaths of four men, or, that there is someone responsible, but exactly who, is undetermined YET?”

        • I thought Koppel was thoroughly polite to Campanis, who was just completely clueless. Sheiffer is who he is, and criticizing him for being as he has always been violates what I like to call the “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine” Principle. Can you guess why?

  3. Bob Schieffer just wants to moderate a Presidential debate in 2016. He can point to these tough questions as evidence of his even handedness and stupid republicans will give him a debate. Finally asking tough questions after Obama was safely into his second term doesn’t make him an ethical hero. Obama is entering lame duck territory and sucking up to the administration is starting to produce diminishing returns. I could be wrong, maybe Schieffer will doggedly follow the Obama scandals and keep digging and asking questions until he gets to the truth. LOL just kidding.

  4. As I recall, at this point in the Watergate saga, nobody was talking about impeachment either as there was not yet proof that “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” had taken place in the Oval Office. That proof would come eventually and Nixon wound up resigning because he recognized that he had lost the ability to lead as president due to his loss of credibility. A last honorable act by a dishonorable, and dishonored president.

    It may come to pass that Obama will be found to have been involved enough in something to actually be culpable for a similar judgement re high crimes and misdemeanors, but my read on the man is that he just doesn’t get involved in much of anything at a fundamental level. Thus he is unlikely to have pulled any strings or given any orders – he just created an atmosphere where people would feel authorized to take those actions on behalf of him and the cause.

    • Obama hasn’t waved at a fly without their being discussion of impeachment.

      Nixon didn’t resign out of honor. He resigned to attempt to forestall more negative publicity. Did you forget “I am not a crook”?

  5. Remarkable that what was once just fair and decent news interviewing and reporting (no matter who is doing it) is now so “ethical” that it’s noteworthy.
    Remarkable that what is just current typical biased indecent talk show babble (no matter who is doing it) is now so outrageous that it’s noteworthy.

    I do see the hypocrisy, but I can’t help but think that ethics have become a little rare on both sides of politics.

    • I think you went backwards on the second paragraph. Amazing that what had been outrageous conduct is now tolerated. Jack called it out here, but Rush has gone from a Republican shock jock to almost an elder statesman of politics. He’s a moderating voice at this point.

    • Well, he’s by far the most listened to and influential political commentator on the planet, so the answer is “millions.”

      Getting addicted to pain-killers is hardly groundd for contempt, and he certainly paid for it—it cost him most of his hearing. He’s easily one of the very most talented radio entertainers anywhere, and the only genuinely polite conservative talk show host when someone calls to argue with him. I admire the talent and respect the manners.

      • I’ll bet Rush was irritated by what he perceived to be Schieffer’s obsequiousness, which may have come through more in his tone of voice or demeanor than it comes through in the transcription of his comments. I’d score it a tie. Schieffer: 1 for effectively calling out a sputtering minion; Limbaugh 1 for pointing out the liberal bias of the media for years, even though he blew a gasket at a very rare and arguably imagined instance of such bias.

            • If he were giving in to his bias, Sheiffer wouldn’t have confronted Pfieffer at all. You can’t get more direct than “Why are you here?” Actually, Koppel should have asked the same question to Campanis.

              • We agree about Schieffer. I just don’t think Schieffer cut to the heart like I think it is fair to have expected of him. I believe “Why are you here?” is actually terribly indirect. I was watching Koppel, the night he interviewed Campanis. That was one amazing American history moment on TV. I would love to know what was the percentage of viewers whose jaws literally dropped on hearing Campanis “explain” to Koppel.

      • Im sorry , I have no sympathy for a person who when it was his time to step up dodged the draft. Either axcept the the draft notice and serve or fight it in the courts. Dont have some phoney note about a cyst and dodge it. He has been more then willing to suport our country going to fight wars but wasnt willing to serve himself.

        I dont see how calling people names and ridiculimng people is “talent” . If you want to listen to someone who has a strong knowledge base of the issues and is polite to people who disagree with him listen to G Gordon Liddy.

        • As a Marine, your point is accepted with my respect, but I’m not going to continue to impugn anyone for avoiding the draft if that was their choice when they were young. I admire those who went when called, and I was prepared to myself, but I was also prepared to accept the luck of the draw and let my unlucky friends with higher numbers go fight for me.

          Rush does not call callers names. All Liddy does is read the newspaper out loud, and is a genuine wacko criminal—I’d sooner listen to Bill Clinton.

          • Rush only is polite to callers who agree with him. He must have used the term “feminazi” thousands of times. He’s obviously a good entertainer (numbers don’t lie), but he does not deserve forgiveness for the drug issue. Of course, many people face personal demons — but this man built his career as a “law and order” moral conservative. He doesn’t get to preach against drug use and be a drug user at the same time. I think he sometimes gets a pass for this because pain killers and other prescription drug abuse is not always seen in the same denigrating light as say — a mayor using crack cocaine.

            • Beth, that’s just not true, and I don’t know where you get the information. He uses the term “feminazi,” which he coined (and is, in rare cases, an accurate term) but never aimed at callers while he is speaking to them, and he is always polite, even when provoked. Ingraham cuts off people, Levin screams at them, Hannity mocks them, Savage insults them, but Rush is always, always civil. I’m sure he’s slipped once or twice, but your characterization is factually wrong.

              • Perhaps the reason for my confusion is that he’s so insulting ALL of the time to people on the opposite side of the issue — perhaps it’s not in person, but that might make it worse, not better. Feminazi is an easy example, and something he’s said thousands of times. He also referred to Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute.” And there are many examples. Why can’t he just debate the issues without resulting to personal attacks/slurs? And before people start shouting liberal bias, I grew up listening to this man before I had any political affiliation. Hours and hours of his programming. A lot of my conservative family and friends (especially women) stopped listening to him because of his verbal attacks. He deserves respect for his longevity as a performer, but not for his fair and ethical treatment of people and analysis of issues.

                • We are discussing callers, Beth, not commentary. Rush is no model of civility in his commentary, though mostly he’s just tough. His job is to rattle cages and drive his targets crazy–the Fluke episode, which is covered on the blog, was an example of him over-doing it. “Why can’t he just debate the issues without resulting to personal attacks/slurs?” Why can’t Bill Maher? It’s his style, and it works for him. (Rush doesn’t usually resort to actual slurs, like Maher. He’s cleverer than that.)

                  • I acknowledged your point about callers I thought. As for Bill Maher, I won’t defend him either, but he usually does it under the cloak of comedy so I think maybe a bit more cushion is warranted. I’d put Rush more in the same league of Olbermann — entertainers (both with sports backgrounds ironically enough) who have hybrid entertainment/news shows. Both use slurs — but “slut” is definitely a slur, so I would never give Rush a pass. I’ll look up your blog on Fluke.

                  • Ah Meathead (such a better name that Meatshield I think) — you always have such reasoned and nuanced discourse! You truly are a tremendous asset to this site. Thank you!

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