Two anchors at different major television networks have admitted they did not verify a highly offensive quote before attributing it to conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez and MSNBC’s David Shuster have both reported Mr. Limbaugh had said slavery “had its merits.” On their seperate television programs on Friday the anchors said they never confirmed the quote themselves.
Before admitting they had made a mistake, Mr. Limbaugh threatened to sue over the matter and had many conservative allies, including those at the conservative-leaning Media Research Institute, supporting him.
Mr. Sanchez was the first to say he had wronged Mr. Limbaugh by posting a message to his Twitter account Thursday night that said: “we did not confirm quote. our bad.” His on-air apology on Friday seemed more heartfelt. “We should not have reported it - not have reported it - without independent confirmation, and for that I apologize,” he said. MRC’s media tracking blog, Newsbusters.org, has video HERE.
Mr. Shuster, on the other hand, opted only to “clarify” his previous statements, but not openly apologize during his program on Friday. “MSNBC attributed that quote to a football player who was opposed to Limbaugh’s NFL bid,” he said. “However, we have been unable to verify that quote independently. So, just to clarify.” Video HERE.
The Media Research Center has launched a website called “Tell the Truth” to pressure others who have reported the quote as fact to say how they have been able to verify it. Mr. Limbaugh vehemently denies ever saying it. He said during his radio program that he believes the misquote came from false information that was published to his Wikipedia page without his consent or knowledge. The misquote was also published in a book written by liberal author Jack Huberman called “101 People Who Are Really Screwing America.” No source was provided in the book and when asked by various media outlets to provide one, Mr. Huberman and his publisher have declined.
The full false quote that has been attributed to Mr. Limbaugh is: “I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back. I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”