SCARBOROUGH: Rush Limbaugh’s battle with Palm Beach prosecutors. It’s heating up. But it’s proof that politics makes strange bedfellows. First, the ACLU lends its hand by filing a brief with the court. And now, former Clinton insider and current governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, is on board, saying in a letter to Rush Limbaugh that the seizing of his medical records is, quote, “a massive intrusion into yours and every citizen’s privacy. Hopefully, you will be able to fend off these attacks.” With me now to talk about the latest developments in the Rush Limbaugh case is Mr. Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, who is also an NBC analyst. Hey, thanks so much for being with us tonight, Roy.BLACK: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Please, help me understand; this strange bedfellows thing is getting a bit more bizarre by the moment. You know, people are talking about Bill Richardson as possibly being John Kerry’s vice-presidential candidate, and yet he’s supporting Rush Limbaugh.
BLACK: Well, Joe, these are not really strange bedfellows, because this is not a political issue. This is a human rights issue, a privacy issue. There are people all across the political spectrum that are worried about their privacy rights. In fact, I’ve gotten many letters and e-mails from prosecutors, police officers, agents, all outraged at this abuse of power in Palm Beach County. So this is not really a political issue, and that’s why you have many people like Governor Richardson joining us, and let me just say one other thing. The reason that that has come out is because Governor Richardson agreed to the release of his letter. Many other people who have supported us did not want to get involved publicly in this.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, how did it come about? Did Rush call the governor asking to write the letter? Had they known each other? Did they talk before about it?
BLACK: No. What happened, the governor just on his own sent the letter to Rush, who passed it on to me, and we asked whether or not the matter could be released publicly because we certainly like to show that this is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, this is a human rights and privacy issue, as I said, and everybody should be concerned about it. And Governor Richardson I think summed it up very well in his letter.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, a lot of people are noticing that Rush has actually been fighting two battles down in Palm Beach. One’s with the prosecutor’s office, and the other is with the local newspaper. This is what Rush told his listeners about the Palm Beach Post.
RUSH AUDIO: If you talk to people in the press, they will tell you that their purpose is to protect the powerless from the powerful. But down here, the Palm Beach Post sides with the government and pursues citizens in good standing, assumes that citizens in good standing are the enemy and protects the government down here.
SCARBOROUGH: Is that sour grapes, or is that a fair charge against the Palm Beach Post?
BLACK: Well, the Palm Beach Post editorials have certainly been very harsh against both Rush and me personally. On the news side of the Palm Beach Post, I think that they have reported things fairly neutrally, and in fact in our recent filings in court, they wrote some I think very perceptive articles. However, the editorial position of the paper certainly, and on the opinion pages, have been very harsh of us and very supportive of what the state attorney is doing.
SCARBOROUGH: But, you know, Palm Beach Post poll actually asked people in Palm Beach whether or not the state attorney should be able to use Rush’s medical records, and their online poll said this: 93% of the respondents said “no,” with only 7% saying “yes.” With so many people in Palm Beach County and surrounding counties supporting Rush Limbaugh on this issue, why is any politician taking this matter on when he’s obviously stepping over the line when it comes to privacy?
BLACK: That’s a very good point. I mean this is, as I said, it’s not really a political issue. I think today people are worried about government being able to get into their private affairs, and what could be more private than your medical records? I think there’s a lot of people concerned about allowing the police and prosecutors, at their whim, to be able to seize your records. And, of course, that’s why the ACLU, Governor Richardson, and many people in this country are behind us because they want to see a stop to this.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Roy, one final question. Your defense team has found what some are calling a “gotcha” piece against the prosecution. In your brief of the Fourth Circuit, this is what you wrote: “Only two years ago this very court suppressed evidence in a case on Mr. Krishner’s own office because of the state’s failure to follow the procedures required by another state law.” Do you think this is going to be binding and, in the end, going to crush the prosecution’s case against Rush Limbaugh?
BLACK: Oh, I certainly think so, and I would direct your viewers to our website, RoyBlack.com, in which they can look at the papers themselves; they don’t have to rely upon our interpretation. But the same prosecutor’s office used the same arguments two years ago in order to do something, and the court said you simply cannot do it. They flatly said it is wrong. Yet they went ahead and did it again in Rush’s case. I think it’s an abuse of power, and I can’t wait to get before the court to argue this matter.
SCARBOROUGH: Roy, any final thoughts?
BLACK: As I said, Joe, I think the final thought here on the basis of this program today is to show how many people are supportive of us. I mean the government here, the local prosecutor has just gone too far. You have to protect people’s privacy. That’s an important matter today in the 21st century.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly is, and it’s a matter that I think, and I know you believe, like me, that it crosses party lines; it doesn’t matter whether you’re a conservative or a liberal, with Internet, with all of these privacy issues, not just medical records, but financial records, employment records, I mean this wall is being torn down, and by, you know, businesses, that’s one thing, but when state governments, when prosecutors do it, gets kind of frightening, doesn’t it?
BLACK: Well, you know, it gives us these images we always had of fascist governments being able to get our records. You know, like right out of the book “1984” where you have no privacy at all, you’re worried about being watched and surveilled 24 hours a day, and you really have no private life. I mean it’s important for us to be able to have a private life in our homes and to be able to keep a zone of privacy in which nobody from the government can pierce.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Roy, I knew if I kept you on long enough, I’d get the money quote. I got fascist government; that’s money enough for tonight, buddy. Thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.
BLACK: Thank you, Joe.