Media Research Center chief Brent Bozell is, to put it succinctly, not a fan of anal sex:
-- In 2006, he complained that at a Comedy Central roast for William Shatner, "the audience was buried in man-on-man anal-sex and oral-sex jokes."
-- In 2008, he was offended that the ABC show "Ugly Betty" includes "catty references" to, among other things, "anal sex."
-- On March 13, he bashed "Family Guy": "This Jesus-bashing is offensive, but it isn't so surprising - it's a 'Family Guy' staple. Now add the allusions to anal penetration and we're on another trip down Grossout Lane."
WorldNetDaily feels much the same way on the issue. It has criticized Wikipedia for including a "photo of two nude men having anal sex on a bed," bashed Spencer Gifts for carrying "pornaments" that "graphically depict anal intercourse between a snowman and a bare-breasted 'snowwoman,'" disapproved of the Wal-Mart website selling a book that "gives explicit instructions for engaging in oral or anal sexual acts," and denounced the movie "Brokeback Mountain" for depicting characters who "awkwardly and violently engage in anal sex." WND founder and editor Joseph Farah even asks: "Isn't it time to make anal sex taboo, again?"
Bozell and WND have thus clearly established their opposition to references to anal sex in the media and popular culture. So why do they give Rush Limbaugh a pass for making those very same "allusions to anal penetration"?
Limbaugh has a long history of making anal-sex references on his radio program and in interviews. For instance:
-- He has said regarding blacks and gays: "Let me see if I can get your question right. You want to know why the Republicans are willing to say, 'Screw you,' to 30 percent or more of their voters and yet Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me,' for 10 percent and 2 percent of the population?"
-- He said of political controversies faced by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "This is pure sexism in Alaska on the part of these old boys trying to get rid of Sarah Palin, and she didn't put up with it, and she didn't bend over and let them have their way."
Yet you will find not one word of condemnation of Limbaugh's words at WND or any MRC website. Indeed, some at the MRC have uncritically repeated and even endorsed those references.
In a Jan. 22 NewsBusters post, Noel Sheppard touted Limbaugh's interview with Sean Hannity, during which he said of Barack Obama: "We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds; that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever; because his father was black, because this is the first black president." Sheppard did not highlight or criticize the remark.
In a Jan. 28 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor noted MSNBC's highlighting of the "grab the ankles" remark, but that's not what offended him. Rather, he complained that the remark was used to ask a Republican congressman to "denounce the talk radio king."
Another Jan. 28 NewsBusters post by Geoffrey Dickens transcribed the remark as it was repeated in a segment of MSNBC's "Hardball," but did not highlight it or express offense; instead, he he was more interested in making the case that Chris Matthews "fell into the same trap many other journalists have in misunderstanding the term 'Dittoheads.'"
And in an April 2 NewsBusters post, Jeff Poor wasn't offended that Limbaugh said of praise for Obama during the G-20 summit, "if he keeps this up throughout the G-20, Gordon Brown will come down with anal poisoning and may die from it." No, he was offended that CNN's Rick Sanchez was offended, and he considered Limbaugh's reference to anal sex to be perfectly acceptable:
Throughout George W. Bush's presidency, insults were doled out repeatedly about the commander-in-chief and that was just a fact of life for the highest-ranking public official in the land. However, now there's a new president, there seems to be a different standard on how you talk about a president.
CNN's Rick Sanchez, the host of the 3 p.m. hour of "CNN Newsroom" on April 2 took offense to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh described a flowery praise of President Barack Obama by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The alleged indiscretion: Limbaugh noted on his April 1 broadcast that Brown, who isn't exactly a free-market capitalist that reflects the ideals the United States was founded upon, was kissing up to Obama, in a way that might contaminate his person.
Poor goes on to dismiss the criticism as "an outcry by a lefty" -- even though his own boss has railed against those very same references.
Meanwhile, as the anti-Obama "tea parties" captured right-wing attention, WND and the MRC defended them by taking offense at references to "teabagging" -- and, thus, perpetuating the hypocrisy.
Bob Unruh complained of the references in an April 17 WND article: "Perhaps it's a new 'If you can't beat 'em, bad-mouth 'em' strategy on the part of some news anchors to denigrate the grass-roots Tea Parties that blanketed the United States this week." Unruh dramatically began with a parental advisory that his story makes "explicit references to graphic sex and will be objectionable to readers. It is not suitable for children." He went on to solemnly define "teabagging" as a term "commonly accepted in the homosexual community to describe a homosexual act in which testicles are inserted in someone's mouth" and quoted anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera whining about "snotty liberal journalists telling insider sex jokes."
Of course, WND is no stranger to the "If you can't beat 'em, bad-mouth 'em" strategy, having once presented as "news" a picture of a copy of Hillary Clinton's autobiography in a bookstore's science-fiction section.
An April 17 WND article by Drew Zahn (also prefaced with the statement that it is "not suitable for children") argued that CNN's Anderson Cooper should be fired for making "an openly lecherous comment that mocks protesting Americans with a homosexual term for a sex act." But WND previously had no problem with mocking protesting Americans -- it has bashed those who protested the Iraq war as anything from two-bit agitators to vampires to crazy Froot Loops.
It seems that smearing Obama as a Nazi is perfectly legitimate and acceptable discourse at WND -- as is, apparently, references to anal sex made by conservative radio hosts -- but referencing "teabagging" is not.
Farah went on to thunder in his April 18 column that Cooper's use of the word was "grossly degrading," and he "should have his dirty, little gutter mouth washed out with soap" and then be fired. Farah added: "This is hardly the kind of comment Americans would expect from a respectable TV newsman paid by one of America's largest media corporations in prime time." This from someone whose website published a column by Erik Rush calling Attorney General Eric Holder "another floatie in the septic tank that is the Obama administration" -- that is, a piece of shit.
Then again, perhaps we have come to expect such grossly degrading hate by dirty, little gutter mouths to ooze from WND. Even more telling, Farah has made no move to fire Erik Rush as a columnist, which can be interpreted as tacit endorsement of that piece-of-shit view.
Meanwhile, an April 16 MRC press release complained about "woeful bias," "lowly crassness," and "sleaze-riddled condemnation" on the part of people on CNN and MSNBC in making "teabagging" references and featured Bozell thundering that "MSNBC and CNN both allow this vulgar attack-journalism to go out on their airwaves without blinking an eye and without any sign of guilt."
This from the same organization that has regularly indulged in the lowly crassness of Clinton sex jokes, their favorite form of sleaze-riddled condemnation.
The release also featured a quote by Dan Gainor of the MRC's Business & Media Institute (where he apparently carries the snazzy title of "Vice President of Business and Culture") baselessly claiming that the tea party protests were "grassroots."
The ConWeb ginned up even more hypocritical outrage over an incident involving the April 20 Miss USA pageant. Contestant and Miss California Carrie Prejean was asked by judge and Internet gossip Perez Hilton whether she supported same-sex marriage; she responded, "I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." After the pageant, Hilton issued a video blog in which he called Prejean a "dumb bitch."
Where's the hypocrisy? In August 2007, gun-happy rock singer Ted Nugent called Barack Obama a "piece of shit" and Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch." Sean Hannity even played the clip on his Fox News show. But we could find no reference to Nugent's outburst whatsoever at NewsBusters or WND, let alone any condemnation of it.
The most extreme reaction to the Hilton-Prejean controversy, though, came from NewsBusters' sister outfit CNSNews.com. It published an April 24 column by professional gay-basher Matt Barber, who apparently felt the need to be more offensive than Hilton: Barber called Hilton a "boylover," a "creepy valley girl wannabe with a five o'clock shadow," a "lispy-wispy lil' cupcake," and "Hollywood's frothy-potty-mouthed little drama queen."
Barber hilariously concluded by baselessly extrapolating that Hilton's outburst means all people who don't hate gays as much as he does are "ugly, desperate and most intolerant."
Really? Barber needs to take a look in the mirror.
(A version of this article appears at ConWebWatch.)