Rush Limbaugh, who has rarely left his ideological bubble for interviews in years, on Monday sparred with the hosts of popular progressive, black culture-focused radio show The Breakfast Club. The lengthy back-and-forth was often tense, with the top-rated conservative radio talker often being asked to answer for his controversial views on racial politics.
At various points in their nearly 30-minute-long chat—which was taped Sunday and aired Monday on both radio shows—the iconic right-wing radio host claimed that “white privilege” does not exist, seemed to liken his own mistreatment by his critics to injustices experienced by people of color, and wondered aloud why black Americans are still angry about racial injustice even after President Barack Obama was elected.
The Breakfast Club hosts—Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy—seemed at times flummoxed by Limbaugh’s assertions, which ranged from waxing poetic about black unemployment under Obama to suggesting that the nationwide protests could’ve been quelled if the Minnesota Vikings signed Black Lives Matter activist and quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“If the Minnesota Vikings announced two nights ago that they were gonna hire Colin Kaepernick, would the riots have stopped?” Limbaugh asked.
“No,” a befuddled Charlemagne responded after an elongated pause. “Nobody gives a shit about that.” The Breakfast Club host explained that such a move would “not stop white supremacy, it would not stop racism.”
When Limbaugh asked his counterparts how they would change the system that has failed black Americans, Charlamagne turned it around by asking the conservative talker how he would use his immense privilege to effect change. That set Limbaugh off on a tangent about how he does not “buy into the notion of white privilege.”
“I think that’s a liberal, political construct right along the lines of political correctness,” Limbaugh said. “It’s designed to intimidate and get people to admit they’re guilty of doing things they haven’t done.”
In response, Charlamagne bluntly told the talk-radio star, “You’re being delusional.”
When Limbaugh said President Donald Trump needed to use his “God-given humility” to quell the unrest, Charlamagne immediately responded, “There’s nothing humble about the president. He’s all ego.”
At another point, after Limbaugh insisted that black Americans should be more grateful to Trump because of the decreased unemployment rates during his first three years in office, Charlamagne informed the right-wing talker that black unemployment began to decline under Obama, leaving Rush confused.
“It did?” Limbaugh sputtered.
A frequent sticking point in the conversation came from Limbaugh’s insistence that both white privilege and white supremacy are left-wing fabrications. At one point, he asked the Breakfast Club hosts, “You keep harping on white supremacy. Can you tell me how to end it? What can we do so that you are not frustrated and angry all the time?” He added, “And I don’t like the fact that you are all so angry all the time.”
At another point, he wondered why the black community feels such anger about racial disparities given the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008.
“You had you had Americans, white Americans voting for Obama because they wanted to say we’re not racist… You had people electing the first African-American president in our history, he served for eight years,” Limbaugh mused. “Now why isn’t there anything to show for it that makes you less angry?”
And in response, Charlamagne once again tried to maneuver around Limbaugh’s partisan grievances and explain how the black community’s concerns focus on systematic problems that transcend mere party politics. “Once again, it doesn’t matter who’s in the White House if the person is not willing to dismantle the mechanism of white supremacy,“ he said, eliciting a groan from Limbaugh.
“You can’t see that white people aren’t treated better in this country?” Charlamagne asked.
“You set these things up—you have no idea how I have been mistreated by various groups and individuals my whole life,” Limbaugh declared. While acknowledging that he has not been shot at or mistreated by the police (though he said he was pursued by law enforcement on one occasion), he proceeded to liken the negative treatment of him to the racism experienced by people of color.
“I’ve had my car keyed,” Limbaugh said, bemoaning his own mistreatment by “various elements, various groups, various individuals my whole life.”
“We’re all mistreated,” he added. “I’ve been fired nine times.”
Over the past several years, the Breakfast Club has emerged as one of the most prominent and interesting platforms for unconventional political talk. The hosts of the morning show, which airs on New York hip-hop station POWER 105.1, have made news for years by asking humanizing, probing, and occasionally uncomfortable interview questions. The show recently made headlines after Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden told Charlamagne, “I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” The ex-veep eventually apologized for the comment, claiming he was being “cavalier” by speaking “in jest.”
And because of its reputation, during the Democratic presidential primaries, the show increasingly became a must-visit for many candidates hoping to reach the show’s diverse audience.
Limbaugh echoed this sentiment during his visit on Monday, saying he felt as though this chat was an opportunity to act as a white ambassador to an audience with which he rarely interacts.
“I don’t want the chance that the African-American community might randomly hear what I think about this,” he said. “I wanted to actually tell them what I thought and, by extension, that I believe I represent a majority of white Americans as well on this.”
Between airing segments of the chat, Limbaugh explained to his listeners that he reached out to The Breakfast Club to start a dialogue with the African-American community because he, too, was angry about the death of George Floyd. The radio talker said that he wanted to “go out and have a chance at having a conversation explaining my point of view and hearing theirs.”