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FLASHBACK: Vile NBC Blamed Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio for Oklahoma City Bombing

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Journalists are always willing to parrot the most vile talking points, whatever it takes to salvage a Democratic president. That’s true with Joe Biden and it was true 27 years ago this week with Bill Clinton. Clinton was facing a newly empowered Republican majority and decided to exploit the tragic Oklahoma City Bombing in order to smear Rush Limbaugh, talk radio and conservatives as somehow responsible. 

On the April 25, 1995 Today, then-co-host Bryant Gumbel slimed the right, attributing culpability for the deaths of 168 people on April 19,1995: 

The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that’s been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men. While no one’s suggesting that right-wing radio jocks approve of violence, the extent to which their approach fosters violence is being questioned by many observers, including the President of the United States. 

 

 

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Gumbel teased the segment this way, being very clear about his implications: “When we come back, we’ll discuss the possible link between political violence and the angry rhetoric of talk radio.” 

The NBC host continued to heap blame on Limbaugh and others: 

Right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, and others take to the air every day with basically the same format: detail a problem, blame the government or a group, and invite invective from like-minded people. Never do most of the radio hosts encourage outright violence, but the extent to which their attitudes may embolden and encourage some extremists has clearly become an issue.

Here’s what President Clinton said about talk radio: “They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, violence is acceptable.” Talking to guest Oliver North, Gumbel parroted the President’s smears: “What did you think of the President’s remarks yesterday and his suggestion that the rhetoric on the radio may be encouraging a climate of violence?” 

After playing an incendiary quote by G. Gordon Liddy, Gumbel attempted to hold North accountable. The then-talk radio host (and future NRA President) wasn’t having it: 

 

 

OLIVER NORTH: Mr. Gumbel, you are not going to be asked to hold Dan Rather accountable for what he says or doesn’t say. And I’m not going to be held accountable for what other people say. I’m talking about my radio show and what I do on my show. 

BRYANT GUMBEL: Understood. Understood. Considering Liddy’s comment, another radio has told his listeners to get a gun and do something. Another urged armed revolution. I’m not holding you accountable. I am asking you if that’s justifiable on the airwaves? 

NORTH: What I consider to be unjustifiable is the ad hominem attacks on radio talk shows or any other medium. 

Twenty seven years later, journalists are still doing the bidding of Democrats smearing conservatives as monsters. 

For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.

A partial transcript of the segment is below. Click “expand” to read more. 

Today
4/25/1995
7:36 AM ET

BRYANT GUMBEL: When we come back, we’ll discuss the possible link between political violence and the angry rhetoric of talk radio. 

GUMBEL: The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that’s been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men. While no one’s suggesting that right-wing radio jocks approve of violence, the extent to which their approach fosters violence is being questioned by many observers, including the President of the United States. 

BILL CLINTON: They spread hate. They leave the impression that, by their very words, violence is acceptable. 

GUMBEL: Right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, and others take to the air every day with basically the same format: detail a problem, blame the government or a group, and invite invective from like-minded people. Never do most of the radio hosts encourage outright violence, but the extent to which their attitudes may embolden and encourage some extremists has clearly become an issue.

7:38 AM ET

GUMBEL: Oliver North, good morning. 

OLIVER NORTH: Good morning, Bryant. 

GUMBEL: What did you think of the President’s remarks yesterday and his suggestion that the rhetoric on the radio may be encouraging a climate of violence? 


GUMBEL: Hang on a second. Hang on a second.

NORTH: Mr. Gumbel, you are not going to be asked to hold Dan Rather accountable for what he says or doesn’t say. And I’m not going to be held accountable for what other people say. I’m talking about my radio show and what I do on my show. 

GUMBEL: Understood. Understood. Considering Liddy’s comment, another radio has told his listeners to get a gun and do something. Another urged armed revolution. I’m not holding you accountable. I am asking you if that’s justifiable on the airwaves? 

NORTH: What I consider to be unjustifiable is the ad hominem attacks on radio talk shows or any other medium in which we would — and I’m quoting the President now. He’s talking about “in some ways taking away the civil liberties, a minor departure from America’s civil liberties traditions.” That, to me, is frightening.  



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