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At the center of the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh's bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams are some apocryphal quotes attributed to the king of talk radio. On Monday, CNN's Rick Sanchez attributed this quote to Limbaugh:
Slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.
Limbaugh informed CNN that he never said those words, so Sanchez quoted Limbaugh's denial on Tuesday. Rather than stating clearly whether or not the quote was false, Sanchez acted like the accuracy of the quote is still in dispute and said:
Among the news organizations that reported that [quote] yesterday was our show at 3:00. Limbaugh's response to this is -- and I -- we want to be fair to Rush -- he says: "We have gone back. We have looked at everything else, and there is not even an inkling that any of the words in that quote are accurate. It's outrageous."
So, Rush Limbaugh is denying that that quote has come from him. Obviously, that does not take away the fact that there are other quotes who have been attributed to Rush Limbaugh which many people in the African-American community and many other minority communities do find offensive.
The quote seems to have originated with pranksters who tampered with Limbaughâ€™s Wikipedia page several years ago, and migrated into a left-wing book published in 2006, 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America. The book had no footnote documenting the date on which Limbaugh had supposedly uttered the remark. Recently, the quote was cited by St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports writer Bryan Burwell in an October 7 column about Limbaughâ€™s joint effort to purchase the St. Louis Rams. Other sports writers soon cited the quote as well, including Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp writing in the October 12 USA Today.
So it appears the first person to lift the quote from Wikipedia and put it into print was Jack Huberman, the author of 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America, which was published by Nation Books in 2006. Nation Books has not responded to a phone message asking to confirm this quote and other apocryphal quotes in his book, such as:
"You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed."
Huberman posted this quote and the slavery quote on the Huffington Post in 2006.
Last night, I emailed the HuffPo to ask if they could verify the quote, and the HuffPo's Mario Ruiz replied:
"When a question of accuracy is raised with us, we give our bloggers 24 hours to either back up the claim or correct the record. If not, we remove the post. Now that the issue has been raised, we've asked him to respond."
So around 6:00 p.m. tonight we'll get to find out whether the Huffington Post has higher editorial standards than CNN.