Robin Williams suicide: Shepard Smith, Rush Limbaugh -- tasteless comments, apologies

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Media responses to tragedies are often imperfect. But in their reactions to Robin Williams' suicide, Shepard Smith of Fox News and radio host Rush Limbaugh may take the cake for inappropriateness.

The two men's comments on Williams' death were so inappropriate, in fact, that both have (sort of) apologized.

Fox News' Shepard Smith drew attention first when, in his reporting on Williams, Smith called the entertainer a coward for taking his own life.



Almost immediately, Smith was the target of many negative reactions. Smith, to his credit, made a formal apology on Wednesday (Aug. 13). After pointing out that his "coward" remarks were only a small part of an otherwise respectful segment, his apology (given by phone to Mediaite) is very thorough and sincere.

"I would never presume to know anything about his private life. And if any of his family members and friends were to have seen me use the word 'coward,' I would be horrified," Smith says. "I would just like to apologize to the end of the earth to anyone who might think that I meant to openly call him a 'coward.' To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I'm so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry."

Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, has made a bit less of an apology for remarks made during his Tuesday (Aug. 12) radio show. In commenting on an article from Fox News about Williams' suspected reasons for suicide, Limbaugh draws parallels between such triggers and liberalism as a political philosophy.



Limbaugh claims that the Leftist viewpoint is "one of pessimism and darkness and sadness." How does this apply to Williams then? "He had it all, but he had nothing," Limbaugh continues. "He made everyone else laugh but was miserable inside. I mean, it fits a certain picture, a certain image that the Left has. Sort of low expectations and general unhappiness and so forth."

Not surprisingly, many found this comparison to be rather offensive. Limbaugh in turn managed to be offended that anyone could think what he said was wrong. Instead, the host feels that the whole thing is his enemies willfully taking words out of context.

"What the Left -- and in particular the leftist media -- is attempting to do in twisting my comments about the Robin Williams suicide yesterday cannot go unnoticed," Limbaugh says in his Wednesday radio show. "The upshot is that all these media people think that I am just a reprobate, a cold, heartless guy because I accused Robin Williams of committing suicide because he was a liberal. And I did no such thing! I don't know why he committed suicide!"

After a lengthy rant that everyone else besides him was trying to explain Williams' death, Limbaugh offers a closing statement on the issue. "All of these low-rent, irresponsible, pathetic, so-called media watchdogs on the Left are trying to make it sound like I said that Robin Williams should give up because he was a liberal and he's hopelessly devoted to misery and despair, because that's what liberals are devoted to. I said no such thing."



It's not much of an apology, but it does at least explain why Limbaugh would say something quite so insane as liberalism being a cause of suicide.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images, Fox News, Mediaite