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Limbaugh versus Carville on hoping presidents fail

By Dave Cook / March 11, 2009

James Carville's remarks from a Monitor Breakfast in September, 2001, have created a firestorm of controversy across the web.

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The blogosphere has been buzzing with comment about a story on Foxnews.com quoting a Monitor breakfast from 2001 where Democratic political strategist James Carville said he hoped George Bush did not succeed.

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Bill Sammon, vice president for news and Washington managing editor for Fox wrote that, “months and even years later, the mainstream media chose to never resurrect those controversial sentiments, voiced by the Democratic Party's top strategists, that Bush should fail.”

Unequal treatment?

Fox's charge is unequal treatment. “That omission stands in stark contrast to the feeding frenzy that ensued when radio host Rush Limbaugh recently said he wanted President Obama to fail. The press devoted wall-to-wall coverage to the remark, suggesting that Limbaugh and, by extension, conservative Republicans, were unpatriotic,” Sammon says.

Bill Sammon is a gentleman of the first order and a fine journalist. He has accurately transcribed an audio recording of the Monitor breakfast held on the morning of September 11, 2001 with Democratic strategists James Carville, Stanley Greenberg, and Robert Shrum. Sammon himself was not at the breakfast, but he was given a recording to help with a book he was writing. I did attend the breakfast.

There may be media bias. But the lower profile treatment of Carville’s breakfast comments compared to those by Limbaugh certainly does not prove it.

Lost in a flood of coverage

Carville started speaking at 8:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001. Word of the terrorist attacks that morning came right as the breakfast ended. Upon hearing the news, Carville said, “Disregard everything we just said. This changes everything.” Carville’s comments about the latest political polling obviously were lost in the flood of coverage of the first major attack on the US since Pearl Harbor.

Limbaugh spoke when there was not a competing news story of the magnitude of the September 11 attacks.

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