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Rush Limbaugh hit for NASA 'Muslim outreach agency' joke by humor impaired

Rush Limbaugh at 2009 CPAC
Rush Limbaugh at 2009 CPAC
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Rush Limbaugh, the famous radio talker, has come under some criticism for a statement he made in a recent broadcast in which he said that President Obama had transformed NASA into a "Muslim outreach agency." A March 12, 2014 analysis by the Tampa Bay Times suggested that Limbaugh made a false statement.

Limbaugh was referring to a July, 2010 interview of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in which he started that President Obama "--wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering."

This statement had taken place after the Obama administration had angered many by cancelling the Constellation space exploration program. It played into the belief that the president was more caring of appeasing hostile third world countries than he was of enhancing American greatness by exploring space. It was also criticized as being condescending to Muslims, as it was pointed out that Muslims ranging from Farouk El Baz, a geologist involved in the Apollo program, and Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian born entrepreneur and private space traveler, have been involved in space exploration from the beginning.

In any case, the White House quickly walked back the statement and since then Bolden has been held on a tight leash insofar as making statements to the media are concerned. So the Tampa Bay Times solemnly pronounced the statement as “false.”

The Tampa Bay Times and some of Limbaugh’s other critics, such as space blogger Rand Simberg, have missed the point that the radio talk show star is a humorist and using exaggeration, much like Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken, to make larger points. The point he was making in this case was not that Obama had literally turned NASA into a Muslim outreach agency, but rather, while it was claimed that he had by that agency’s administrator, it is certainly not engaged in its core mission, exploring the high frontier of space.