RUSH: Well, wait. It really isn’t. I mean, it’s not, and that’s not what I meant. I did not mean to be 20 years behind the times. I meant that this is a personal thing with Donovan McNabb and the media in Philadelphia. But I wasn’t clear about that. But I’m not going to go back and restate that because it doesn’t make any sense now. But Kelly, stick with me here. Let me address your point that I shouldn’t have resigned. Let me just tell you why I did. I went through this last week, but given that there are some people, I guess, that don’t want this to go away – you know, there’s some people that apparently don’t want this to fade away – let me go through again what happened.
First of all, I want to give you the time line. On Tuesday is when I’m preparing for the program, and I take some time to go through the general e-mail file and I’m getting a bunch of e-mails from Philadelphians who are telling me, “You are getting creamed by the Philadelphia sports media today.” So I went to the Philadelphia newspaper websites and I saw it, and slowly became aware, quickly became aware of the slowly effervescing controversy here. And then I saw ESPN’s vigorous defense of what happened, and it just kept building, and then I had to go to Philadelphia after my program on Wednesday for a speech that was long-ago scheduled at the National Association of Broadcasters for Thursday. In Philadelphia on Wednesday night, I received an e-mail from I guess the second-in-charge executive at ESPN.
And his message to me was very clear: “Tom Jackson is unhappy. You should call him.” Actually it came to me during the program on Wednesday, before I had left for Philadelphia. So immediately after the program ended on Wednesday, I called Tom Jackson at his home in Ohio, and somebody – I assume it was his wife answered, I don’t know – I asked if he was there, they said “no,” and I said, “Please tell him I called.” They said, “Okay,” hung up. I got on the plane; I went to Philadelphia, and when I got to Philadelphia, the other thing had – I was told when I got to Philadelphia that the National Enquirer thing on the drugs had broken. So, you know, we were dealing with that, trying to figure out what that was about. And then I got some e-mail from the exec again at ESPN telling me that they didn’t think they could “save Tom Jackson.”
Now, I interpreted that to mean – and they didn’t say this specifically to me – but I interpreted this to mean that Tom Jackson was telling them he wasn’t going to work on the same set that I was. Now, you have to understand. Here’s my thinking on this. I’ve been there four weeks. Tom Jackson and Chris Berman been there 17 years. Steve Young has been there four or five years and this is also Michael Irvin’s first year, and I know that they’re uncomfortable with this. They have to be. Nobody said a word to me as it happened. Nobody said to me after the program. Nobody said anything to me ever until Wednesday when the ESPN…I still have not heard from Tom Jackson. I’ve tried to call him. I did hear, as I say, from Chris Berman on Thursday in a phone call, but it didn’t contain anything like what he said on the air yesterday. But you have to understand, these guys know that the establishment is going to crush them if they rise up and do anything other than what they did yesterday. They don’t want to deal with this.
CALLER: That’s the precise point.
RUSH: They’ve got a football show. This kind of stuff makes them nervous. There’s a story I could tell you. Let me. I’ll just, I’ll tell you the story.
CALLER: First could I make a comment?
RUSH: Yeah, go ahead.
CALLER: My thing is, you have always been known for being frank and speaking your mind. A trait that’s pretty much gone in America. Whether people accept it right or wrong, believe it or not, you’re going to state your mind. They knew that when they hired you, everybody in America knows that, everybody does, and for you to say, [paraphrasing] “Okay, well, then I’ll just back up and resign.” I think that does a discredit for the people that have followed your program for many years and have listened to you. I haven’t always agreed with you, but I do respect you, and the reason why I respect you is because what you say is true with you. There’s no cloak and dagger; you’re just up front and honest. And for you to resign, that simply says, “Okay, you guys win.”
RUSH: Okay, then, Kelly, should I have changed my posture and made them fire me?
CALLER: I would have made them fire you. They knew what they were getting when they hired you. So I wouldn’t have made it easy for them, and I think you let a lot of real liberal people off the hook and gave them weeks of tabloid news to talk about you quitting. I would have made, I would have made them be what they are. They would have to prove…
RUSH: You know, there are many takes on my resigning. There’s yours. Mike Lupica had a piece in the New York Daily News yesterday which opined that I quit because I couldn’t take the heat and didn’t want to take the heat – and that wasn’t the case. I was looking forward to this next show. We major in heat here!
RUSH: We define heat here. I was looking forward to this show. I was looking forward to the production meeting on Saturday where the whole staff was going to devise the way they’re going to come back at me on a probably very highly watched show on Sunday. But it didn’t happen. That’s one that I couldn’t take the heat. And then there’s yours that I sort of gave them an out. You know, I told the truth on this, and it may have been in a moment of, I don’t know what you would call it. When I heard of the degree of angst and upset that the cast was having over this – and I did not hear that from the cast; I was told it by management – I don’t want to cause them that. By the way, there was never – nobody ever said to me “You must promise never to bring politics to the program.” That wasn’t said to me. There was no tantamount agreement between me and the cast not to bring politics. It wasn’t even stated.
CALLER: It was an opinion of a football fan. If it was being in the club or anywhere else, it would have just been a discussion, because you said everybody labeled it as a racist political statement because that’s what your show is.
CALLER: What I’m saying is they knew that when they hired you, that’s what you do. You’ve been doing it for years.
CALLER: And they know when you came on the set that you can’t – who you are is who you are. You’ve been that way on your show.
CALLER: You’ve been that way everywhere you go.
RUSH: Let me just tell you a couple things here just to back you up. After the first couple of weeks there were some people who said, “Your essays aren’t edgy enough.”
RUSH: “Your essays aren’t edgy enough.” Now, I’m sitting there. You know, I was purposely trying to be strictly football. I was trying to go out of my way not (to be controversial). In fact, if there was politics mentioned on this show, it was the other guys doing it. Young made a political comment at one point; Chris Berman made a political comment – and each time they did, I pointed at them. I said, “Whoa, there’s supposed to be no politics on this show.” I’m telling you the truth here. If it makes me look bad, then I’m sorry. But I liked these guys, and I was just trying to spare them any angst because I know that they don’t have any familiarity with this. In fact, let me tell you a story, the second story. After one of the production meetings within the past two or three weeks, it was discussed among us, on the crew, that the Fox show was working on an impersonation of a couple of us, and one of the two of us about whom they were working on an impersonation was very concerned about this, and I looked at him and I said, “You’re worried about this?” Oh, yeah! I said, “They’re going to imitate us on their show? That’s great! This is exactly what we want. They are so noticing what we’re doing they’re going to imitate it!” They’re going to defame me. “They’re not. They may make fun of you, but they can’t defame you. You are who you are.” That told me that there’s simply no understanding of – I mean, it’s axiomatic when the competition talks about you, you’re winning. This was looked at as a crisis. Oh, gee. So, you know, there’s a lot of things that happened before this, Kelly, that led to my resigning. I understand your take on this, and I appreciate it. I was not trying to let any of you who listen to this program down at all. I was simply trying to respect the people whose show this ESPN show is, and if they were going to say, if they were acting and feeling the way I was told they were, I didn’t want to be the source of that for them.
CALLER: Oh, okay.
RUSH: It’s no more complicated than that. It really isn’t.
CALLER: I just think if you stayed on, it would have made them be who they are, and not this behind-the-back stuff, wouldn’t allow it.
RUSH: In hindsight, you’re probably right. I’ve heard from a lot of people who have said the same thing, Kelly, so you’re not alone. A lot of people wish I’d taken your course of action. I may have made it a little too soon. I can’t change it now, though. I’m glad you called, Kelly, thanks very much for your thoughts.