NAB Hears Unrepentant Rush
By Harry A. Jessell -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/5/2003 8:00:00 PM
An unbowed Rush Limbaugh kept his date as the NAB Radio Convention keynoter in Philadelphia last week despite his resignation as an ESPN commentator the night before and separate allegations that he has been abusing prescription drugs.
The controversial radio host made no apology for the comments on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown. Limbaugh had said Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb received undeserved credit because the media is "very desirous that a black quarterback do well."
On his Web site Thursday, Limbaugh blamed the furor on CNN for "hammering the whole Donovan McNabb thing" most of Wednesday. Limbaugh contends that's because he has attacked CNN's coverage of Iraq. "You know what this is, folks? This is payback time for me from CNN."
He told the NAB audience, "We live in a country where there is supposedly a First Amendment and you can offer an opinion. But, in certain places and certain times, you can't."
Limbaugh said he had thought about his McNabb comments in advance and did not mean to hurt or diminish anybody by them. "It's just an opinion ... It was not a racial opinion. It was an opinion about the media."
He added later, "It's not people like me who put codes on speech and codes on thoughts. But they band together, and apparently they can ruffle enough feathers and scare enough people that, if things are said that they don't approve of, they can take action."
ESPN had initially supported him. But later, ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer said in a statement: "We accept his resignation and regret the circumstances surrounding this. We believe that he took the appropriate action to resolve this matter expeditiously."
Also last week, the National Enquirer alleged that Limbaugh was hooked on prescription painkillers and is under investigation by the Palm Beach County state's attorney's office. Through Premiere Radio Networks, which distributes his show to more than 600 radio stations, he said, "I am unaware of any investigation by any authorities involving me. No governmental representative has contacted me directly or indirectly. If my assistance is required in the future, I will of course cooperate fully."
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