MRC President Brent Bozell sent the following letter to CNN Host Piers Morgan on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Sam Feist, CNN DC Bureau Chief, and Jim Walton, CNN President were cc’ed.
Dear Mr. Morgan,
I am disturbed by your ongoing double standard when it comes to coverage of political rhetoric. On your show, you recently called Rush Limbaugh out for his insulting comment about a Georgetown law school student: “Limbaugh’s disgusting comments are the work of an archaic old dinosaur living in a warped, ugly swamp, who thinks it’s okay to degrade decent young women for sport and ratings. Well, it isn’t it. Shame on you, Rush Limbaugh.” Fair enough. However you have seemingly turned a blind eye to the similar rhetoric of one of your guests – Bill Maher.
Rush Limbaugh made the regrettable blunder of calling Sandra Fluke, who testified on behalf of the administration’s mandate against religiously affiliated institutions, “a slut.” Let’s all agree Limbaugh crossed a line. He agrees. He issued an apology to Fluke “for the insulting word choices.” This should be sufficient, but it’s not and the skewering continues.
On the other hand, when Bill Maher and other leftist commentators make similarly inappropriate remarks, they are practically ignored. To be fair, you are not alone when it comes to such a double standard. Indeed, CNN and the media overall are guilty of such unacceptable hypocrisy.
Nearly a year ago (March 18, 2011), Bill Maher on his HBO show used far more vile sexist language to insult Sarah Palin as a “dumb twat.” Even after NOW condemned Maher — “Stop degrading women with whom you disagree and/or don’t like by using female body terms or other gender-associated slurs” — CNN never once bothered to report it.
Instead, CNN has warmly received Maher on its programs and elevated him as a leading “progressive” political pundit. Over the past year, Maher has appeared on CNN five times, plus another appearance on CNN’s Headline News Network. Not once was he asked about his sexist comments, or the scores of other vulgar and offensive remarks he makes on a regular basis.
Indeed, when Maher appeared on CNN on March 22, just 4 days after attacking Palin — interviewer Eliot Spitzer (“In the Arena”) refused to raise the issue. Instead, he lavished Maher with praise: “Your show is brilliant. I love watching it.”
During the current Limbaugh controversy, only one CNN host (Anderson Cooper) raised the double-standard issue, noting very briefly on March 2 that “Bill Maher, on the left,” has “said some pretty outrageous things,” but offering no examples or any further discussion of Maher.
And there are many more examples of such lewd comments made by Maher at CNN. For a year, CNN has been pampering and promoting Maher.
And it’s not just CNN. Limbaugh has been singled out and condemned across the national media – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, NPR, PBS, Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. How many of these outlets have condemned Bill Maher with equal vigor for his attacks on Palin? How many of these outlets condemned him at all? Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a “slut” on his radio show. MSNBC suspended him for a week, but none of Schultz’s advertisers dropped his show under media pressure. There was no pressure. Some of the same sponsors now pulling out of Rush’s show still support Schultz.
In the interest of promoting and cultivating a meaningful dialogue based on mutual respect, you and other prominent figures in the media, including other journalists at CNN, ought to report such defamatory personal insults made towards all public figures.
Double standards only serve to make these situations worse. If you are really serious about promoting civil discourse you should treat figures like Maher, Schultz and other liberal pundits the same way you treat Limbaugh.
I think a constructive conversation can be had in the media addressing
such a double standard, and you are certainly in a place to do just that.
L. Brent Bozell III