August 4, 2014

Radio host Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners on Monday that liberals would make Ebola into a political issue and use it like they had used AIDS to "undermine" President Ronald Reagan.

In an audio clip flagged by Media Matters, the conservative talker explained that he had received some complaints from listeners who said that he should not be spending time talking about the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

"You know, it never ceases to amaze me," he opined. "Twenty-six years and there are people who still think I miss things. If you really want to understand this program -- if you really do -- you're going to have to accept something, that pretty much everything I talk about, I'm talking about because it is political."

"Have you ever heard of AIDS?" Limbaugh asked. "You think that wasn't political? One of the most intense efforts to undermine support for Ronald Reagan was hatched through AIDS."

"I mean, the left politicizes everything. They look at everything within the realm of whether or not it can move their agenda forward."

After Reagan's death in 2004, reporter Alan White wrote in 2004 that "[h]istory may ultimately judge his presidency by the thousands who have and will die of AIDS."

After the very first cases of AIDS were confirmed in 1981, Reagan waited until over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed before finally addressing the epidemic in 1987. Meanwhile, he reportedly took advice about the disease from evangelicals like the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who said that "AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals." Then-White House communication director Pat Buchanan even repeated the sentiment, saying that it was "nature's revenge on gay men."

Dr. C. Everett Koop, who was Reagan's surgeon general, later said that he was cut off from participating in AIDS discussions for five years. Koop said that White House officials believed that AIDS primarily affected the homosexual community, and Reagan's advisers "took the stand, 'They are only getting what they justly deserve.'"

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