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What to Make of Lance Armstrong?

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Lance Armstrong. What to make of this? You know, I'll tell you, ladies and gentlemen. You know me. I think if you wait long enough, you will detect politics in everything. Now, let's do a quick comparison. When Roger Clemens was accused of doping, the sports media turned on him (snaps) like that. He was guilty. He lied to Congress. They needed to throw him away, and throw away the key at the same time. They were just enraged. I'll never forget it. I thought Clemens was this beloved sports figure, but when this happened, the media turned on Clemens.

It'll be interesting to watch the media deal with Lance Armstrong and how they react to this -- and it won't take long. In fact, we got a lot of sound bites from CBS This Morning today. In fact, let's play those. Let's get those out of the way. It was Charlie Rose talking to Bicycling magazine editor-in-chief Peter Flax about Lance Armstrong dropping his challenge against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

I'll tell you, Lance Armstrong is a hero to millions of people. He wasn't supposed to survive testicular cancer. His percentage chances were in the single digits. He got involved with the doctors, he learned everything he could about it, he overcame that, and goes on to win seven Tours de France and a number of other championships. He has passed over 500 tests of urine, blood, other bodily fluids ("precious" and otherwise). Some of these tests have been random when he didn't know they were going to happen.

He's passed every test.

And here comes this agency. They say it's not a government agency; it's just a private sector nonprofit. But I'm not sure that it doesn't have ties to the government. And they have been after Lance Armstrong and practically every other winner of the Tour de France and other bicycling events. In Armstrong's case, I think since 1999 they have been after him, and yesterday Armstrong finally said (paraphrased), "I'm not gonna go to arbitration. I'm not fighting anymore. To hell with it!"

So the immediate question is, "What does that say? What is the most natural conclusion?" And, sadly, the most natural conclusion is, "He's guilty. He's gonna stop fighting it." The next phase of the Armstrong battle with this agency was to go to arbitration. And that's what he's not going to do. He said, "Look, I'm tired. I'm tired of putting my family through this. I'm tired of putting myself through this. I don't know what more I can do." He claims they've got no evidence.

They are pursuing him even in retirement, and so many people think it's a witch hunt.

I'll tell you, folks, let me go out a little bit on a limb here. If you look at what's going on at Penn State University, we had the story couple of weeks ago about how the entire university might lose its accreditation over what happened with Sandusky and the football program. If it loses its accreditation, it may as well close up shop. There's no reason to exist, if an education from Penn State is said to be worthless. Now, the Louis Freeh report at Penn State indicted everybody from Joe Paterno, to Spanier, to every underling in the president's office, to the football coaching staff and so forth.

Prior to this, they had that statue of Paterno at the stadium and there was nobody -- there was nobody -- with a more impeccable reputation for integrity than Joe Paterno. And now Paterno passes away, and whatever reputation he had, if it's not in tatters, it's seriously questioned. Paterno, politically, was a very conservative guy. I never told anybody this, but after each of my books came out, I received requests for autographed copies from Coach Paterno. I never met him; I never spoke to him.

But I remember the first book I autographed (chuckles), I couldn't believe that Coach Paterno wanted my autograph, wanted to read my book. I just said, "It's an honor to sign this to you," blah, blah, blah. For all of his career, and for a few months after his death, he was impeccable. Now it's gone. His reputation is in tatters, finished. Louis Freeh, with... (interruption) Well, no, he can't fight back. Of course that's true, but even when he was alive he was doing his best to fight back.

And I don't want anybody to misunderstand.

I'm not trying to say he didn't do anything here.

This whole Sandusky thing is sordid and, in itself, it's despicable. But they're trying to make it out like Paterno was Sandusky, and that I don't believe. So you have this great, impeccable reputation now totally destroyed. Not partially, totally destroyed. Somebody worth looking up to: Gone. I do believe that there are forces that want to tear down such people. We see it every day. I mean, part and parcel of the purpose of the United States media is to build people up.

You've heard this yourself.

"Build people up, and then eventually tear 'em down."

It's why, ladies and gentlemen, if I may inject myself personally here (something I rarely do), it is why I have studiously (and I've made the point to you many times) avoided any opportunity to let the media have anything to do with my success. The media didn't make me, meaning: You don't listen to this program because, way back long ago, the media said, "Wow, this is a great show! This is a funny guy. You know what? You need to listen."

They weren't doing daily, weekly, positive profiles of me. You listen here because you found the program on your own or however you found it. You listen to it; you like it. It's a good show. It provides you whatever you want, and that's it. And because of that, the media can't tear it apart. But they try. It doesn't stop 'em from trying. (You know the drill.)
Now we have Lance Armstrong, somebody who is universally respected by people for overcoming incredible odds.

If there was doping in cycling, he clearly wasn't the only one. Somebody won those Tour de France races, and there were witnesses that Lance Armstrong won 'em. They haven't found one bit of evidence he doped! It's just supposition. And you've got people saying, "I have no question! I have no doubt that he doped!" There's no evidence of it. So here's somebody else that is in the process of being ripped to shreds that a lot of people admired and looked up to. Now, Armstrong is not conservative, at least as far as anybody knows.

He's not... I don't know that he's actively political in any way, but culturally he'd be closer tied with the pop culture left than he would with anybody else. That doesn't matter; they're still after him. But then when he stops the fight, it's only natural to conclude that there must be something there. (interruption) Oh, it is. It is a "personal vendetta." That's my point. If it's not personal, it's a professional vendetta against success, against achievement. Rip it down, tear it apart. It happens to people in our culture every day.

The media rips people apart after building them up.

It's how small people make themselves feel big.

It's how small, irrelevant people make themselves feel like they matter.

It's to disqualify achievements of others, or to criticize them, or to destroy them. It's the only way that these little people can build themselves back up or make themselves feel like they're something. But then, on the other hand, (sigh) Armstrong is dropping the fight. And the only natural conclusion is that he's guilty. This is what most people are concluding: He's guilty. But some are saying they don't care, that everybody else did it.

And since everybody else was doing it and he might have been doing it, it was all fair because everybody was doing it. You know, Floyd Landis and a couple other people that won the Tour de France were found to be doping, but they haven't found it on Armstrong. Let's get these audio sound bites. Peter Flax, Bicycling magazine editor-in-chief, was talking with Charlie Rose, who said, "Is there any doubt -- any doubt, Peter -- that he, in fact, used these doping products?"

FLAX: I'm absolutely convinced that he did, but I'm also convinced that he is the victim of a witch hunt. And there's no justice possible here. The legacy is being shaped on Bicycling's Facebook page. Hundreds and hundreds of comments, and I'd say 95% of them are pro-Lance people communicating their support for him. He is guilty, but in a lot of people's eyes, he's still an inspiration. He still won those Tours de France, and it'll take some time to see how this all plays out.

RUSH: Now, here's this guy: "I'm absolutely convinced he did dope." I'm absolutely convinced? Has anybody ever seen any evidence? Some of you have to help me out. I don't know if there's any evidence. I'm not aware of it.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We have a guy in his truck in South Bend... Is it Kansas? South Bend, Kansas. This is Joe. Joe, I wanted to get you in here real quick. How are you, sir?

CALLER: Doing good. And you?

RUSH: Very well. Thank you.

CALLER: Yes. The reason I think he's being torn down is because he's an exceptional person. He did many things in his life that make him extremely exceptional. And to a liberal, you cannot be exceptional. You had to either steal it from somebody else or cheat to get there.

RUSH: Yeah. That's why I wanted to get old Joe in here, because he's singing my tune to a certain extent. It's like Obama now. "We're not a superpower. We never were! All we did was steal from the poor people around the world, and that's how we became a superpower. And the rich and the successful in America? Nah-nah-nah-nah! They just stole it from people. They had an unfair advantage or they got lucky or they cheated or something, and so we're gonna spread the wealth and we're gonna redistribute it."

So the liberals do have a big problem with individual achievement.

This Armstrong business... Folks, we're told now that Lance Armstrong didn't win those seven Tours de France, and Penn State didn't win all those football games for ten years. The Soviet Union was never this good at rewriting history. They tried, but the Soviet Union was never this good. Armstrong has never been found guilty of anything. He gives up on proving a point after over 500 tests that prove his innocence. He's simply exhausted.

"What more do I have to do?"

Now, this agency, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (the USADA) is a taxpayer-funded nonprofit. They say it's not government, but it's taxpayer funded. So it's not simply cut-and-dried that it isn't a government organization. They call themselves "the anti-doping organization for the United States," created by the Olympic Committee back in 2000. It's just an amazing thing. I saw it last night. Kathryn pointed it out to me last night. She admires Lance Armstrong for a host of incredible reasons. A lot of people do.

A lot of people don't want to believe this, and are sick and tired of this kind of behavior by government agencies.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

Here's the second sound bite. It's Armen Keteyian on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose. They're talking with the Bicycling magazine guy, Peter Flax, who in the previous sound bite we heard say he is "absolutely convinced" that Lance Armstrong doped. He's convinced of it, but he's also "the victim of a witch hunt." How? I mean, if he did it and they're trying to track him down, what's the witch hunt? The witch hunt is if he didn't do it, and now he's into his retirement and they're still pursuing the guy. Armstrong says (paraphrased), "I've had it. I've had it. I've taken 500 tests! I've passed every test. They've got no evidence. I've had it with this."

So Charlie Rose talks to Armen Keteyian. Armen Keteyian is the CBS chief investigative correspondent. He's on Gumbel's show on HBO (or was at one point) Real Sports. He's a sports investigative guy. Here's what he said...

KETEYIAN: This process has become so politicized from -- going back five years now. It's not a government agency; it's a private organization, a nonprofit organization that has a stake in this politically to prove that Lance Armstrong has been doping to send a message to other athletes. And I don't know, when you talk about a fair process and safe sport, how much this really adds to that.

ROSE: So if he loses all these titles, what happens?

KETEYIAN: If they just hand the jersey to whomever came in second, all those men are convicted dopers, people who have made financial settlements to get out of a doping case. I spent seven years watching it. Someone won those Tours de France. Lance Armstrong did. I saw it.

RUSH: Yeah, he did, and the other people have doped -- and they've proved it on the others. They're also talking about penalties. They want to take away his endorsement money. Retroactively! They want to get every dollar he was ever paid. He was on the US Postal Service Team. He was on the US Postal Service Team and, as such, the team was bankrolled by the Postal Service. But they want to go after his endorsements, prize money, everything! They want to strip Lance Armstrong of everything he's got.

(interruption)

Snerdley said, "Who did he make mad? Who the hell did he tick off?"

Sadly, it's a legitimate question. Speaking of this, I was reading Phil Mushnick today. Mushnick is a sports columnist the New York Post. He had a piece earlier this week on politics. He's an acknowledged Democrat, and he says he's finally become convinced of media bias. And his story was about David Plouffe, Obama's adviser, going all over the world making $100,000 a speech from little countries that can't afford it, advising them on the ins and outs of the US political process.

Mushnick said (paraphrased), "Why the hell is this not a big story? Why is the media not all over this?" Now, of all the things that are out there that would convince somebody in the media that his buddies are biased? But, nevertheless, he thinks it's a big story that the media isn't covering: The fact that one of Obama's chief advisers is out making a hundred grand a speech from little countries (that don't have the money to pay it in the first place) for advice on how to get into the American political system.

Cronyism.

He's got a point.

Anyway, I was reading Mushnick today. Mushnick's every Friday, Sunday, and Monday in the New York Post. He has a thing about Warren Sapp, the former defensive tackle, number 99, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sapp has filed for bankruptcy. One of Mushnick's big causes is the cultural rot that is taking place in sports, on television, and throughout our society. And he chronicles it. He also is a critic of various sports telecasts -- ESPN, this sort of thing. But in discussing this Warren Sapp business, he says Warren Sapp filed for bankruptcy.

He's got alimony and child payments and so forth. And when it listed his assets, Warren Sapp has 240 pairs of Air Jordans. And I'm thinking, "What do you need 240 pairs of Air Jordans for?" Then I think, "Well, you know, I collect stuff. So maybe it's a collection." (Just a little side note.) But, yeah, they're gonna take everything away from Lance Armstrong, including all the money. That's their objective. A random act of journalism. By the way, Nike is standing by Armstrong. They're gonna keep Armstrong's endorsement contract. They did with Tiger Woods, as well. Nike loves guys with 'tude. Nike loves the guys with attitude. They love 'em. They love the guys that skirt the edge.

They love those guys.

END TRANSCRIPT

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