The media’s effusive praise of John McCain, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh suggested Monday, has as much to do with pushing a political agenda as it does paying tribute to the late Republican senator.
“The death of Senator McCain has provided an opportunity for the Drive-By Media,” said Limbaugh on his radio show Monday. “I’m gonna warn everybody here. It might be perceived by some … that comments I might make about some aspects of Senator McCain’s life could be controversial. Imagine that. I just want to prep everybody that I have my own theories about witnessing the Drive-Bys and how they are reacting to it and why.”
To set the stage for his discussion about the left-leaning media’s politically motivated coverage of McCain’s death, Limbaugh cut to a clip of CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I can’t help but think that like part of the reason why there’s such reverence for him today is because of who’s in the White House right now because they are polar opposites,” said Tapper.
“So there you have it from none other than the Never Trumper network, CNN, making it clear that part of the reason why there’s so much reverence for Senator McCain is because of who is in the White House right now,” said Limbaugh, interpreting the comment cynically. “One of the reasons there’s reverence for McCain is the opportunity it provides to continue to savage Donald Trump, to continue to rip Donald Trump by setting up these comparisons between Trump and McCain and showing Trump coming up short on virtually every measure the Drive-Bys make.”
To back up his claim, Rush cited the conflicting ways the media has treated McCain over the decades, including when he ran for president against George W. Bush in 2000, when he ran against Barack Obama in 2008, as well as the various times McCain has played the role of dissenter within the GOP, which, taken together, provides insight into what Limbaugh argues the media really liked about the war hero senator: He was willing to oppose the Republican Party.
“If you go back to the nineties during the Clinton years, Fox News starts in 1996, ’97, MSNBC gets going, and the Clinton impeachment saga is being discussed every night on TV. And a media darling develops on MSNBC, John McCain,” Limbaugh explained. “MSNBC loves Senator McCain because Senator McCain, for which he is being honored and recognized since his death, had the courage to criticize his own party, had the courage to criticize his own party’s policies, his own party’s presidents. He had the courage. That’s what made McCain a really great guy to the Drive-By Media.”
The media also cheered McCain after he took on Bush in 2000 and many complained that the Bush campaign played “unconscionable, unacceptable” “tricks” on McCain that left a lot of folks “livid.” At that point, McCain became the “media darling” for years, presented at times as a voice of opposition to Bush. But all that changed in 2008.
“I remember issuing a warning I don’t know how many times, but too many times to count here to Senator McCain and his campaign team, that the minute you seek the Republican nomination you are going to be cast aside by this media that has been fawning over you and loving you. You are going to become the enemy,” said Limbaugh. “And, boy, did he, especially when Obama got the nomination and McCain got the Republican nomination. People have forgotten the long knives came out for McCain by all of these people in the media who had made it look like they loved and revered him — and they did.”
The problem, said Rush, was that up to that point, “McCain’s willingness to talk about crossing the aisle, shaking hands, working together to get things done, the politics of compromise … always meant Republicans losing. In those days, when we talked about Republicans compromising, what it meant was Republicans forgetting their agenda and signing on to the Democrat agenda.”
After citing examples of the media and Democrats alternating between embracing and slamming McCain depending on his degree of criticism of his own party, Limbaugh said, “The reason there’s such reverence for McCain is because of Trump. That means the reverence may not be all that genuine. It may be that it is timely and serves a purpose.”