City Desk

Rush Limbaugh Attacks the Bookstore at Busboys and Poets

The independently operated bookstore at the V Street NW location of Busboys and Poets became the target of one of conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh's on-air diatribes Monday.

Limbaugh blasted the store, which is operated by the nonprofit Teaching for Change, for not selling his new children's book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots.

Limbaugh's mention of the store was prompted by Teaching for Change Executive Director Deborah Menkart's remarks at a C-SPAN-taped event at Busboys and Poets for an unrelated book, Brazil's Dance with the Devil, which aired Sunday. Menkart gave the opening speech and said 90 percent of children's books that Teaching for Change sells at the bookstore are by or about people of color, specifically noting that the shop does not sell Limbaugh's best-selling children's book. She said the bookstore proves there is a market for these books by or about minority people, but then added that the bookstore isn't breaking even and asked the audience for support through donations.

This is what Limbaugh took issue with on his show Monday.

...This is exclusionary, it's racist, it's bigoted, and it's the opposite of everything they claim to be.  And it's exactly what they accuse us of being.  They claim that they're tolerant. They claim they're open-minded. They claim that they are colorblind and all that.  They are the most bigoted, racist people. They exclude here and exclude there and then they don't make any money and they can't figure out why.

My two books are in the top five on the New York Times best-seller list, and here's a woman at a bookstore who wants to sell books, is begging people to buy 'em, proudly says that two of the books in the top five are not even available at her store, and she wants accolades for that. These people are loony. They simply are dumb.  They don't have the slightest idea what they're doing.  And they happen to be running the country.  And I don't just mean in Washington. People like this are in charge of the public school system. People like this are teaching your kids. People like this are running day care.  People like this show up at Obama's fundraisers.

Menkart says that since Limbaugh's segment aired, the nonprofit has received hate calls from fans of the conservative show accusing her of being racist. Menkart tells City Desk that all independent bookstores are struggling, no matter what type of books they are selling. Teaching for Change is accepting donations for its entire organization, which provides resources for schools, parents, and children.

"It shows what we are facing," Menkart says. "That Rush Limbaugh clearly feels threatened and willing to dedicate that much airspace on his show highlights the uphill battle we are facing."

Only 10 percent of children's books currently on the market are by or about minority people, according to Menkart. She says the Teaching for Change staff curates the books sold at its Busboys and Poets shop to reflect the diversity of the surrounding community.

"It really reflects the diversity and we're proud of it," she says. "People over and over come in and say they are so happy that we carry [these books.]

UPDATE: Menkart called to clarify that 90 percent of the children's books the stores sells are by or about people of color and 10 percent of children's books currently on the market are by or about people of color. The post originally stated that these statistics applied to all books.

Photo by Daquella manera via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

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  • ww

    busboys and poets can do what they like. that's what private business is about, so good for them. but come on, busboys and poets is like "cracker barrel" for the sanctimonious liberal set. people go and eat low quality cookie cutter diner food before/after perusing the adjacent store for some overpriced marxist souvenirs. the irony.

  • Michael Stanley

    Of course, City Desk claims the only reason Limbaugh went on a diatribe about Busboys and Poets is that they wouldn't sell his book. Next time, take the time to listen all the way through the piece before you scurry off to your laptop to compose your hit piece! Actually, if City Desk would only READ the cut and paste quotation from the show, Limbaugh's point would be crystal clear! At the end of Menkart's video, she actually asks people to donate or buy books because the store isn't making a profit, so the illogical conclusion that she -- and City Desk -- come to is that bigotry or racism is the reason people aren't buying books, instead of piss-poor business management. Right. But that would be too logical and would deprive her and City Desk of their "righteous" indignation.

  • Jes’ sayin

    The news here is that Limbaugh is still on the air - somewhere - and at least someone is still listening to him wallow in his political crapulence.

    Sooner or later, he's going to end up like the old Communist Party USA. There were half a dozen members and 500 FBI infiltrators watching them. There are probably more people monitoring Limbaugh to report on what he says than there are people who actually enjoy listening to that old gasbag.

  • Bob

    Sure, they can bring it in...just don't be surprised when it doesn't sell. Fools that bought this book bought it on Amazon: )

  • Northwesterneer

    Michael, welcome to the City Paper, I see you pulled the article up on Google. Limbaugh is playing the victim, and trying to assign the focus on himself, when a small city book store is struggling like ALL independent bookstores. No one with an idea of what the word demographics means would think that Rush Limbaugh's books would sell in an independent city bookstore- they sell in the exurbs and the Midwest. Reading the quote over and over again can't make a lie true.

  • Monica Miller

    Big yawn.

    When I saw the headline, I thought, perhaps, that Rush had eaten the Bookstore.

  • Theresa M. Moore

    I watched the entire segment on Book TV, and if Limbaugh is pissed I really don't give a rat's ass. He spouts inane commentary all the time. The book store is struggling because there is little support for book stores to begin with, and the decline in reading in general is the cause, not necessarily bad management. For Limbaugh to say such self-serving and ignorant things about a book store which was selling books before he got is radio show is the height of stupidity on his part. Who cares if they are not selling his children's book? Maybe it does not come up to the quality they are looking for. He ought to look in the mirror and think about his racist, bigoted viewpoint before he criticizes someone else.

  • Typical DC BS

    Uh, Jes'Sayin - Limbaugh is still the top-rated terrestrial radio show in the USA. Like, 14 MILLION listeners each week? And he's been doing it for over 20 years.

    The only gasbags are liberal dimwits who ignore FACTS and bloviate hot air.

  • Hal9000

    I confess that as a childless homo, I haven't read Rush's book. But there must be something in there that touches the hearts of even the most strident of liberals. A chubby kid grows up to be a second-rate DJ and then parlays that into a job as the angriest talk-show host on the planet. After a string of failed marriages, he becomes addicted to Oxycontin and is investigated by the feds for doctor shopping. Moral of the story? Kids, don't turn out like him.

  • JaMarcus

    Amazing the ignorance of some people. Rush is exactly right and if you would read exactly what he said instead of just taking a sample of his quote, his point would be even more clear.

    This woman's store goes out of their way to sell books primarily by people of color and will not sell Rush's book yet at the same time claims poverty and begs for donations.
    Imagine, if a bookstore didn't want to sell a book by a gay author, what the outrage would be from the left, yet this type of discrimination is okay.
    Free markets allow businesses to sell what they want which explains why this business is putting out product that nobody wants yet Rush's books make the best seller list and outsell the ugly women's icon, Hillary without 1/1000th the publicity.

    Although it's not surprising that a liberal business has no clue how to run a business and has to beg for money since liberalism is BS anyway and is all about mooching based on those who have.

  • Jes’ sayin

    Uh, Typical DC BS, that 20-million listeners figure is pure bull. It's an old trick to take your hourly numbers (in this case three hours a day, five days a week) and add them together and say that's your cumulative audience. But if some brain dead geezer listens to you all 15 hours (or just says he does in his response), he counts as 15 listeners.

    Major stations and national sponsors have dropped Limbaugh in markets like LA, and his AM flagship stations have had huge ratings declines.

    He had a helluva run, but the best days are way, way back in the rear view mirror.

  • Peggy Scout

    Limbaugh even begged Dittos to give book instead of Halloween Candy. A reviewer at Kirkus, who said she had hoped to prove the naysayers in the children's literature community wrong, found it "breathtakingly, laughably terrible.": He says he wrote it to combat "multicultural crap," the kind of book I am glad people of color write, and that others like Busboys and Poets help make more available to the public.

  • Northwesterneer

    Again, to the person who called themselves "Typical DC BS" - terrestrial talk radio is solely conservative because it's a media ghetto. Rush gets about 13 million listeners per week which is a shadow of what radio was in the 1980s. 13 million is nothing compared to Howard Stern in his heyday. You clearly don't know anything about media to be trumpeting this. Terrestrial radio has died in the era of the internet and its audience no longer matters to anyone.

  • Tennis

    Please all booksellers, remember to include Rush Limbaugh's book on your banned books table this fall.

  • Chris

    Funny how I keep getting articles on my phone regarding Rush. I think Google is trying to persuade me from being a fan.

  • Civil Rights Leader

    Liberals amaze me. If there were a bookstore bragging that they don't sell any books by non-Whites, the media would be all over it in a flash. But since this racist, bigoted dump hates Caucasians, then the report is about how "angry" "the conservatives" are. Rush Limbaugh accurately described these decrepit hate-mongering bigots for what they are.

  • Flank Speed

    My problem is that the owner Andy Shallal, who is worth $15 million himself, has the gall to ask other people to donate money to support his Busboys and Poets clubhouse. Anyone who's stepped into Busboys and Poets during an event knows that it is filled with the nastiest and most hardline militant liberals conceivable. It's like one of Stalin's Central Committee meetings in there. Nonconforming questions or comments during a Q&A session are met with vicious and furious response. These liberals make the tea party look like child's play.

  • Johnny Law

    My problem is that the owner Andy Shallal, who is worth $15 million himself, has the gall to ask other people to donate money to support his Busboys and Poets clubhouse. Anyone who's stepped into Busboys and Poets during an event knows that it is filled with the nastiest and most hardline militant liberals conceivable. It's like one of Stalin's Central Committee meetings in there. Nonconforming questions or comments during a Q&A session are met with a vicious and furious response. These militants make the tea party look like child's play.

  • Typical DC BS

    Northewesterneer, guess you're the typical low intelligence liberal who thinks they know everything, when in reality you're a moron. The reason the conservatives dominate terrestrial radio is because 90% of the liberal broadcasts go under from lack of interest.

    Try to get your facts straight. Or is that too much to ask of you? Since you cite ZERO facts, unlike me, you're just bloviating nonsense, like most liberal nitwits.

  • NW Resident

    The irony is that the $15 million net worth owner of Busboys and Poets, Andy Shallal, is soliciting funds to support his little hardline liberal activist clubhouse. Limbaugh is certainly rich just like Shallal is rich, but Limbaugh at least gives his own money to support the causes he believes in.

    Clearly, Teaching for Change is operating a for profit function in a commercial enterprise. I wonder if the IRS ever questioned their 501-3-c status?

  • NW Resident

    Northwesterneer -

    "when a small city book store is struggling like ALL independent bookstores"

    you clearly don't know anything about Busboys and Poets. It's not a mom and pop shop struggling to make a living. It is a clubhouse for the region's rich militant liberal set and owned by a multi millionaire activist and DC Mayoral Candidate Andy Shallal. They don't need or necessarily intend to make a profit with their bookstore...they use it to host cocktail parties and club rallies with their favorite celebrity guests.

  • NW Resident

    The moment your read that the commercial bookstore "is operated by the nonprofit Teaching for Change" you should have realized the sham of this story.

    My two previous comments regarding the liberal activist ownership of Busboys and Poets have been blocked and remain unpublished. Whatever happened to open dialog on the issues?? This is censorship in action.

  • Perry Stein

    Apologies, the comments got stuck in the moderation queue. They are approved now.

  • Legal Alien

    I defy any and all of you who criticized Limbaugh here to read the entire transcript of his show or listen to it. Its available free online.
    Then say what who have said here again.
    response to
    "#3 "Jes' sayin'" The trend is up for Rush's audience, do you think the sponsors would pay for spots based on bogus ratings.
    "#4 "Bob" It's a children's book Bob, sounds like your the fool.
    "#13 Northwesterneer" Your circle of friend may not listen to the radio but a lot of adults do...An adult is a grown up with a job. You know, like your grandparents.

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  • Tim

    racism is so passe. Like what the hell is even going on here? Sometimes i wonder what battle they think they are fighting.

  • Eldragon

    Interesting! This is the proof of how NeoLiberalisam has degenerated into the witch-hunt. Instead of 'getting even' by becoming successful on your own merit and character - they perpetuate the role of the victim. I didn't become well known artist, not because of my name (hardly anyone can pronounce)but because I WASN'T good enough. I will work on it and when I am ready, I know the address where I will send my work. I am not going to be bawling and accusing a 'white man!' Sheesh

  • Bulldogs rule

    It's interesting that the store representative described calls opposing her decision to ban Limbaugh's book as "hate speech." It is so typical and predictable for the Left to demonize anyone opposing their agenda.

    I'm fine with store owners, including this one, deciding what they want to offer the public. Just don't be surprised if sales are affected by those choices.


    I resented the clerk at Books a Million asking me to donate to cause the books to be given to children in school. I resent Books a Million doing that.

  • David

    The hilarious thing is that everything Rush Limbaugh is quoted as saying here is exactly right.

    And there's NOTHING liberals hate more than they hate the truth. They HATE it!