CNN host Brian Stelter railed against “revolting” comments directed against Rush Limbaugh after the radio talk personality recently announced having advanced lung cancer, saying it’s indicative of “strain of contempt” among Democrats and liberals.
Limbaugh, the longtime conservative and controversial talk radio host, told his audience last Monday about his diagnosis. President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at his State of the Union address Tuesday, prompting angry rebuke from critics saying Limbaugh’s past is littered with sexist and racist right-wing remarks.
Stelter’s Reliable Sources panel on Sunday addressed the cynical and often pernicious opinions espoused on social media platforms like Twitter in a country that is so widely divided along partisan lines. Stelter said he wishes people could offer Limbaugh their “best wishes” before arguing about his long history of controversial comments.
“Some of the comments I’m seeing on social media from lefties who hate Rush, saying they hope the cancer takes him away as fast as possible — it’s revolting to me,” Stelter said. “As much as we talk about Trump and misinformation, there is a strain of contempt on the left that also worries me. Why can’t people just say, ‘We hope that Rush gets better quickly?'”
Stelter’s own February 3 tweet reporting on Limbaugh’s cancer diagnosis was littered with comments that cheered on the cancer and reveled in hopes that the radio personality “goes to hell.”
“Christmas in February! And it’s his own fault for smoking all those cigars. He will suffer, terribly. I am as happy as a person can be!” read one top comment to Stelter’s tweet.
“He, literally, has encouraged rightwing politicians to harm people, deprive healthcare, imprison innocent children and let people die. Lives will be saved when he is gone,” reads another top reply.
Appalled followers and even fellow Limbaugh critics rebuked the comments declaring the cancer diagnosis “couldn’t have happened to a better person.”
“The responses to this tweet illustrate the pure evil lurking on the far left right now. If you disagree with them, many of them literally not only want you dead, they’ll celebrate your suffering. Really vile. Send up lots of prayers for Rush Limbaugh to counteract this evil,” replied filmmaker Robby Starbuck.
Stelter’s panel discussed whether the anonymous nastiness expressed toward Limbaugh is simply a symptom of a social media disconnect between people.
“I think this highlights a larger problem with Twitter and what we elevate on Twitter and who is on Twitter,” replied Sarah Isgur, staff writer at The Dispatch. “We think of that as some type of reality when in fact it’s not.”
CNN media analyst Bill Carter flipped the scenario around, asking: “If Hillary Clinton announced tomorrow that she had terminal cancer, don’t you think the same thing would happen on the right?”