Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 3, 2014

Fact Check: Limbaugh makes claim on wealth, race

There’s the truth, there’s distortions and then there’s Rush Limbaugh’s April 28, 2014, radio show. In it, the conservative American radio talk show host decided to discuss the racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

At one point, Limbaugh described Sterling as “a typical Hollywood Democrat.” That’s incorrect (Sterling is a registered Republican — to the extent it matters).

“The only reason (Sterling’s) in trouble right now is he did not give enough money to Obama,” Limbaugh proclaimed. That’s highly speculative, so we can’t fact-check Limbaugh on this point.

At another point in his Sterling talk, Limbaugh discussed how things generally are going for African-Americans in the United States. Limbaugh’s diagnosis: pretty darn good.

“You’ve got a black president. You’ve got a black attorney general. You’ve got the wealthiest TV performer in American history is a African-American woman. That would be The Oprah,” Limbaugh said. “Some of the wealthiest Americans are African-American now.”

That last line is quite incorrect.

The go-to source to learn about the wealthiest Americans is Forbes, which tracks the fortunes of the world’s elite. It publishes an annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans and a list of the world’s billionaires. The most recent Forbes list was released in March 2014. (Bloomberg also publishes a less expansive list of the world’s billionaires.)

For some perspective, the folks at the bottom of Forbes’ wealthiest Americans list are worth an estimated $1.3 billion. At the top is Bill Gates, who is worth an estimated $72 billion.

How many African-Americans make up the American Top 400?

One, according to Forbes.

Oprah Winfrey is worth an estimated $2.9 billion — ranking her 184th on the list.

For the record, it isn’t only rare for African-Americans to be billionaires in the United States. According to Forbes, there are only nine black billionaires in the world.

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