On Sunday, CNN’s Brian Stelter, host of “Reliable Sources,” discussed President Trump awarding the Medal of Freedom to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, and how he was disgusted by individuals celebrating Limbaugh’s recent cancer diagnosis.
STELTER: There’s also controversy about Rush Limbaugh receiving this Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union. Rush announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer. And I know some people don’t think he should have been getting this metal, but Sarah, some of the comments I’m seeing on social media from lefties who hate Rush, saying they hope that the cancer takes him away as fast as possible, it’s revolting to me, and I just, you know, as much we talk about Trump and misinformation, there is a strain of contempt on the Left that also worries me. Why can’t people just say, “We hope that Rush gets better quickly”?
After Stelter’s initial comments, CNN political analyst and Dispatch staff writer Sarah Isgur pushed back, suggesting that the Limbaugh-hatred “highlights a larger problem with Twitter and what we elevate on Twitter.”
Stelter replied: “You’re right. Those are not the normal voices. You’re right, you’re right.”
Isgur then noted that it’s difficult to know from whom some of the vile comments are coming, and Stelter agreed, saying they might not even be “real people.”
ISGUR: But when candidates, journalists often find – we’re all on Twitter, frankly, all the time, let’s be honest – but we think of that as some type of reality when in fact, it’s not. We don’t know who some of those people are. They’re not checked by Twitter…
STELTER: You’re right. They may not even be real people.
ISGUR: They could be Russian bots; they can be paid. So then candidates respond to that because reporters respond to it. And a lot of, I think, the Democratic candidates have fallen into that trap of living in a Twitterverse that is not actually representative in the country…
Isgur is broadly correct in her assessment that Twitter is home to many unidentified people and bots. However, it should be noted that one of the critical hits on Limbaugh came from an individual associated with CNN.
When the radio host announced his cancer diagnosis, producer and religious scholar Reza Aslan tweeted: “Ask yourself this simple question: Is the world a better place or a worse place with Rush Limbaugh in it?”
Aslan later claimed that he wasn’t “celebrating” Rush’s diagnosis, but posing a philosophical question. He then added that Limbaugh is a “a curse upon this nation, a purveyor of hatred and racism who’s at the very least indirectly responsible for the mass suffering of countless people.”
1. I am not “celebrating” anyone’s diagnosis. I’m posing an important philosophical question
2. Rush is not “my adversary” – he is a curse upon this nation, a purveyor of hatred and racism who’s at the very least indirectly responsible for the mass suffering of countless people. https://t.co/buUdG0V3IF
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) February 3, 2020
Producer and author Tariq Nasheed tweeted: “Rush Limbaugh has spend decades spewing dangerous anti-Black racism. Now he has cancer…I know we shouldn’t celebrate one’s misfortunes….but #PartyOverHere.” Nasheed followed his comment with a gif of a man dancing.
Rush Limbaugh has spend decades spewing dangerous anti-Black racism.
Now he has cancer…
I know we shouldn’t celebrate one’s misfortunes….
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) February 3, 2020
Self-proclaimed comedian Johnny McNulty tweeted: “It’s not cool to joke about Rush Limbaugh having cancer. You might jinx it.”
It’s not cool to joke about Rush Limbaugh having cancer. You might jinx it.
— Johnny McNulty (@JohnnyMcNulty) February 3, 2020
Limbaugh began treatment for his cancer this week.