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January 23, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh lent his voice to the chorus of prominent conservatives standing up for the pro-life students at the heart of a media firestorm, concentrating his fire on fellow conservatives who initially echoed the now-debunked liberal narrative of the event.
Last weekend, a group of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were accused of harassing an elderly Native American veteran while waiting for their bus to take them home from the just-concluded March for Life.
The initial video showed Nathan Phillips beating a drum and singing while students in pro-Trump “Make America Great Again” hats laughed and hollered around him, with student Nick Sandmann smiling inches from the man’s face. Denunciations of the students’ behavior were swift and fierce, with Covington Catholic, the Diocese of Covington, and even March for Life President Jeanne Mancini and an editor of the conservative National Review joining them.
But additional video and firsthand accounts soon revealed Phillips was the one who waded into the group and decided to beat a drump inches from Sandmann’s face, and other adults who accompanied Phillips shouted taunts like “white people, go back to Europe” at the kids. Critics also noted that Phillips had changed his story across multiple interviews. Extended video shows other protestors calling the students offensive slurs – and the students remaining calm and not returning the mistreatment in kind.
Many retracted their initial reactions, though several including March for Life leaders, the Diocese of Covington, and the high school have yet to apologize. Despite the retractions, the original characterization of the story continues to feed a liberal fervor that has included death threats.
“One of the biggest problems that we as conservatives have was on full display all weekend long,” Limbaugh said Monday, which is that “we have a lot of people who would rather lose gracefully with the approval of the mainstream media than simply use their heads and understand who our opposition is.”
He marveled at the fact that despite the tactics of both left-wing activists and liberal media outlets being well-known, “We immediately condemn the kid, without even thinking! Without even learning anything, without even taking a few minutes to understand what happened! Instead of using our instincts!”
Limbaugh suggested the impulse came not from a sincere desire to hold their own side accountable for potential wrongdoing, but from being “scared to death of the media” and craving its approval, and wanting them to know “you’re not one of these Trump-loving stupid little kid supporters.”
“Maybe the people on our side that I’m talking about still do not know what liberalism is and who liberals are and what their game plan is and what their tactics are!” the host wondered in disbelief. “After all of these years, after all of this instruction by me, after all of this guidance they still don’t get it? The first reaction is to assume that the people traditionally on their side are guilty, because of what? A kid smiling wearing a Trump hat?”
Limbaugh specifically cited National Review deputy managing editor Nicholas Frankovich’s aforementioned piece claiming the “evil” Covington students “Might as Well Have Just Spit on the Cross.” The piece was later pulled after fierce backlash, and Frankovich apologized for “overheated” rhetoric – but not for misrepresenting the details of the original video.
A subsequent piece by the NR editorial board apologized to the students for “piling on,” and claimed Frankovich “was operating off the best version of events he had on Saturday night, and writing as a faithful Catholic and pro-lifer who has the highest expectations of his compatriots, not as a social-justice activist.”
NR writers such as Jonah Goldberg and Michael Brendan Dougherty have defended their colleague on similar grounds, but nobody with the magazine has acknowledged that Frankovich misrepresented details of the video in his own link, such as suggesting that Sandmann “ma[de] himself the co-star of the video by stepping forward and getting in Phillips’s face.”
Limbaugh argued that more establishment-leaning conservative outlets should have been particularly skeptical so soon after taking seriously a BuzzFeed report on the Trump-Russia investigation that soon fell apart. “So after everybody gets fooled (because they wanted to be fooled) by the BuzzFeed story, this thing happens on Saturday and the same people — less than 12 hours after learning how they were scammed — allow themselves to get scammed again,” he said.
“The only innocent people on Saturday morning in Washington were the kids from Covington who end up being blasphemed and impugned and destroyed all over America,” Rush declared. Their only sin, he said, was to “show up at a rally for life wearing their ‘Make America Great Again’ hats” and be white and Catholic.
“They believe in Jesus Christ. They are the enemy. They have to be destroyed,” Limbaugh summarized.
Click here to read all LifeSiteNews coverage of the Covington Catholic case.