Appearing on Thursday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC's Krystal Ball accused conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh of "racism" and "sexism" and charged that "He is offensive in every way you can be offensive."
Host Al Sharpton had introduced the segment by marking the 25th anniversary of Limbaugh's nationally syndicated radio show, and, after offering congratulations, then launched into complaints: "It is a remarkable feat. But it's how he's done it that's toxic and relentless and downright ugly criticism of the left."
After Sharpton noted that Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had praised Limbaugh, liberal talk radio host Joe Madison griped:
And they are presidents that unfortunately, as you know, appealed to those individuals who facts don't make any difference. I mean, it's the lowest level of thinkers when you really consider what Rush does. He tells you. For example, remember, he used to say I have ditto heads. Now what is a ditto head? A ditto head is somebody that says don't think for yourself, I'll think for you.
Later, Sharpton further complained:
It's the mean-spiritedness. It's the calling people names, it's defacing people's families, people that are not necessarily in the political arena. It's calling people the most disparaging kind of names that no one calls ladies, children. That's where I think people are offended.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the segment from the Thursday, August 1, PoliticsNation on MSNBC:
AL SHARPTON: We're back with a big day in political history. It's August 1. A lot happened on this day 25 years ago. ... Something else happened on August 1, 1988, something that would change the Republican party forever. It's not what you're thinking. Ronald Reagan was near the end of his term. But somebody else's reign was just beginning.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: August 1 of 1988 is when this program began on a national scale.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: Happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary.
SHARPTON: Yes, yes. Happy anniversary, Rush Limbaugh. Twenty-five years ago today, he started to take down his party. So bring out the stogies, Rush. Congratulations. Now, you all know how I feel about Rush. But 25 is 25. It is a remarkable feat. But it's how he's done it that's toxic and relentless and downright ugly criticism of the left.
LIMBAUGH CLIP #1: Undeniable truth of life number 24, written back in 1987. Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.
LIMABUGH CLIP #2: The Democratic party does not want anybody to have a photo ID because that would have a very negative impact on cheating.
LIMBAUGH CLIP #3: I would be honored if the drive-by media headlined me all day long, Limbaugh calling, I hope Obama fails. Somebody's got to say it.
SHARPTON: Nobody had to say it. But that's what really sets Rush Limbaugh apart. The personal attacks he launches on are not just political figures, but their families too.
LIMBAUGH CLIP #4: We have a name for Michelle, Moochelle. Mooch, mooch, Moochelle Obama.
LIMBAUGH CLIP #5: Now, Hillary has reached a pinnacle, and all she is is a secretary.
LIMBAUGH CLIP #6: Obama says he's a Christian, but where's the evidence?
LIMBAUGH CLIP #7: But in Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering yay, right on, right on, right on, right on.
SHARPTON: Yep, that's the kind of talk Rush is celebrating. So happy anniversary, Rush. Here's wishing you good health and hoping that in your next 25 years, be more fair, more inclusive, more big-hearted, more of what this great country is all about.
SHARPTON: But, Joe, it's not just the rank and file. The leaders of the party, the powerful of the party also seem to bow down to Rush. President George H.W. Bush invited him to the White House and made a show of carrying his bags to the Lincoln Bedroom for him. In 1992, Ronald Reagan wrote him a letter saying, quote, I don't mind that you have become the number one voice for conservatism in the country." I mean, this it's not just rank and file. These are presidents.
MADISON: And they are presidents that unfortunately, as you know, appealed to those individuals who facts don't make any difference. I mean, it's the lowest level of thinkers when you really consider what Rush does. He tells you. For example, remember, he used to say I have ditto heads. Now what is a ditto head? A ditto head is somebody that says don't think for yourself, I'll think for you.
SHARPTON: You just ditto.
MADISON: And facts don't make, that's right. You just ditto what I say. And remember, he started off humorous. Some people used to say he was maybe the Jon Stewart of the conservative movement. But what has happened is he's become mean-spirited.
MADISON: And not only did he attack individuals, adults, but when you start attacking children who can't defend themselves, whether it's Clinton's daughter or the Obama's children or, and women. And let me tell you what is going to be the downfall.
SHARPTON: Or the First Lady. I think that he's raising a critical point, Krystal. It is not being opinionated or conservative. Or compassionate. It's the mean-spiritedness. It's the calling people names, it's defacing people's families, people that are not necessarily in the political arena. It's calling people the most disparaging kind of names that no one calls ladies, children. That's where I think people are offended. I have no problem he disagrees on issues.
SHARPTON: But why do people have to be these kinds of names and their family not even be out of bounds to you.
BALL: No, that's exactly right. He is offensive in every way you can be offensive. He is racism in the big sense in terms of whole classes of people. There's sexism in the big sense, and then there's the direct personal attacks, which are also unbelievable. And what we have seen for the first time over the past year since his attacks on Sandra Fluke are that advertisers are finally saying, you know, what? We don't want to be associated with this kind of talk in this kind of rhetoric.
Going back to something that Joe was saying about why he has been successful in the ditto heads, I think he tells people the liberal elites out there, they think you`re stupid. But I think you're right. And here is what we believe, and you're the ones that really know what's going on. That's sort of the theme behind his show.
SHARPTON: But let me tell you.
BALL: Let me tell you. That's exactly right.
SHARPTON: Because I know better than you.
BALL: That's exactly right.
SHARPTON: Joe, let me ask you this quickly. Are you beginning to see any pushback? I think Krystal talked about some of the advertisers leaving. Some of the more moderate Republicans understanding that the damage he is doing to their party?
MADISON: Oh, yes. There is no if, and, butts about it. You are seeing it. And that is happening. Let me tell you, you used the term leaders. These are not leaders. That's the most important thing. Because leaders, you don't see this in the Democratic Party. You don't see this with progressives.
MADISON: They will take you on if you say something, they take me on if I say something. Because we tend to be here is the word, the phrase, critical thinkers. And that's what you really want from your constituents, people who question, they're critical thinkers, and they come to a conclusion.
SHARPTON: Yes, you're right.
MADISON: Remember, 60 percent of the people voted for President Obama. So you're not just talking about him. You're questioning the intelligence of the people who voted for the man.
SHARPTON: Yes, you're right, Joe. And the difference is that in a Democratic Party, they will take you, me, anyone on if we say something. The right wing will take us on even if we didn't say it. They'll make it up. Joe Madison and Krystal Ball, thanks for your time.
-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center