Rush Limbaugh was complaining this week on his show that on the Friday before the Super Bowl CBS ran a hit piece about him which deceived viewers about the 2003 controversy in which he said that sports reporters overrated Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb because the reporters wanted a black quarterback to succeed.
Looking at the transcript of both the CBS broadcast and Limbaugh’s comments, its hard not to conclude that CBS ran the story with the intent to deceive its viewers.
Going back to the original comments in 2003, Limbaugh’s claim was that McNabb was not a great quarterback and that, instead, Philadelphia’s success was due largely to its defense. Because sports reporters wanted a black quarterback to be seen a successful, however, sports reporters over-emphasized McNabb’s role in the Eagle’s success and downplayed his role in its successive NFC Championship losses.
Just for the record, I agree with that anaylsis except the part about the black quarterback. I think reporters in general want to write about the next great quarterback rather than the next great NFL defense.
Regardless, this year with the Eagles in the Super Bowl, Limbaugh praised McNabb on his show and said that the quarterback had improved tremendously since 2003 and deserved the praise that was being heaped upon him. Here’s what Limbaugh said of McNabb after the NFC championship game when a caller asked if Limbaugh’s opinion of McNabb had changed,
You know, it has. Since you’ve called and brought this up: At the time (in 2003), McNabb, the Eagles were 1-3 or 1-4. McNabb couldn’t complete a pass over 20 yards. They had just come off two championship game losses and the third was coming up. But, since, yeah, there’s been a demonstrable change in McNabb’s performance, pure and simple. There’s no question there has been. I think he was motivated, inspired by a whole lot of things. There’s no question McNabb has improved and I’m happy to see it. I like quality football.
Limbaugh also told the caller that the situation in 2005 was different than in 2003, when Limbaugh made his controversial remarks, because back then, “when the defense … was propping the Eagles up, (media) were still giving McNabb credit- because there’s this social hope.”
CBS News chose to portray this exchange as nothing but one long slam against McNabb. Here’s how Jim Acosta chose to report the above remarks,
Mr. RUSH LIMBAUGH: The specific thing about Donovan McNabb was he…
ACOSTA: That is, unless, you’re Rush Limbaugh, who last week said on his talk show sports reporters give too much credit to McNabb.
Mr. LIMBAUGH: They looked the other way when the defense of the Eagles was propping the Eagles up and were still giving McNabb credit, because there’s this social hope…
ACOSTA: A social hope, Limbaugh said, for black quarterbacks.
Mr. LIMBAUGH: I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL.
ACOSTA: Virtually the same remark that got him canned by ESPN in 2003. This week, McNabb fired one down Limbaugh’s throat.
Mr. DONOVAN McNABB (Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback): I don’t lower myself to anyone else because, you know, the type of person they are.
ACOSTA: For many of the sportscasters covering the Super Bowl, Limbaugh’s comments are a non-issue. The question is being raised: Do these statements say more about Donovan McNabb or Rush Limbaugh? ESPN’s Stuart Scott believes football has moved on; Limbaugh hasn’t.
What’s going on there, do you think?
Limbaugh described why he believed two years ago that Donovan McNabb was overrated — Acosta reports that as if Limbaugh still believes that way. Limbaugh praises McNabb and says he’s improved tremendously since 2003. Acosta lies and says that Limbaugh still thinks McNabb receives too much credit.
This is just like the Bill Moyers/James Watt story — “journalists” with an axe to grind simply fit the subject of their wrath into cookie cutter templates and the truth be damned.
Rush Decision: Limbaugh Lauds McNabb. Scripps Howard, February 1, 2005.
Some reacting to comments made by Rush Limbaugh regarding African-Americans in the NFL. Dan Rather and Jim Acosta, CBS News, February 4, 2005.
Dan Rather Does McNabb Hit Piece. Rush Limbaugh, February 14, 2005.