Conservative writer/commentator S. E. Cupp made a big splash this week, when she spoke out in the New York Times Magazine about Rush Limbaugh.

“And we can’t be afraid to call out Rush Limbaugh,” said Goodwin’s fiancée, S. E. Cupp, a New York Daily News columnist and a co-host of ”The Cycle” on MSNBC. “If we can get three Republicans on three different networks saying, ‘What Rush Limbaugh said is crazy and stupid and dangerous,’ maybe that’ll give other Republicans cover” to denounce the talk-show host as well.

To me, what she said didn’t actually sound that bad. What it sounded like to me is that the NYT took her extremely out of context. The whole second half of the quote sounds like Cupp was talking about what the media already does; not necessarily endorsing it. I was unimpressed, and attributed the furor to the cannibalistic wing of the conservative blogosphere.

Then Cupp responded, and I had to eat crow.

Okay. Let’s talk about this seriously.

Cupp stated in the NYT Magazine that Limbaugh is “crazy and stupid and dangerous.” Last time I checked, that was fairly fiery rhetoric. Innocuous is saying that you thought Marco Rubio’s water bottle moment was a mistake. Innocuous is saying that the right can’t forget how much it needs to win Florida.

A comment that is innocuous, by definition, doesn’t kick up a fuss.

While Rush occasionally goes too far, he is still an excellent broadcaster and an effective spokesman for conservative values. Comparing Rush to Todd Akin, which the interviewer does directly after Cupp’s remarks, is insulting. Implying that the majority of conservatives LIKED or AGREED with Todd Akin is asinine. Claire McCaskill, one of the politicians in America most reviled and disliked by her constituents…WON, because of conservative dislike of Todd Akin.

Just FYI, Obama lost Missouri by 9 points. McCaskill won by 15. So in a state where the vote for President went nearly 54% for Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for Senate lost by 15 points. That doesn’t exactly show a Republican party that embraces the Todd Akins of the world.

(If anything, we’re too harsh. While Todd Akin clearly has no understanding of how the conception process works, Claire McCaskill is a rubber-stamp vote for Barack Obama’s agenda, and the state of Missouri had clearly had enough of that.)

The problem for Ms. Cupp is that her inability to discern how the New York Times Magazine was going to run with her comments worked directly into their narrative. Instead of defending her remarks, she should have apologized; and stated what she actually meant.

It is 100% okay to disagree with Rush and still be a conservative. You can even be a prominent conservative. Our movement doesn’t have thought-leaders that you cannot defy upon pain of expulsion.

What is NOT okay is saying that people you disagree with are “crazy and stupid and dangerous”, especially without context. If you disagree with Rush, and you want to be that dramatic about it, give examples of things Rush has said that legitimately elicit a response of “That’s dangerous”. Obviously, the NYT wouldn’t keep that in the article; but when confronted on it, tell us why you feel that way.

It’s not like Rush Limbaugh really needs defending. He is more than capable of defending himself against any and all comers, but I’ve liked a lot of what Ms. Cupp has said in the past. If you’ve ever watched Real News on The Blaze TV (where Cupp is a panelist), there are clearly many issues that S.E. and Rush agree on whole-heartedly.

What they don’t agree on is Reagan’s 11th Commandment. It is fine to disagree, dislike, and even hate people who are generally on your side. But don’t go talk to the New York Times or MSNBC about how “crazy and stupid and dangerous” they are. Here’s a harsh truth that Ms. Cupp needs to learn. To the New York Times, there is literally no difference between you and Rush Limbaugh. Compared to the New York Times, you are both way out there in right-wing country. Because you are bashing Rush, they call your stance “kind” and “gentle”; but the second you disagree with Touré, you become a racist hater who rooted for Leonardo Dicaprio in Django Unchained.

Ms. Cupp, you need to learn the lessons of John McCain and Mitt Romney. Until they won the primary, the media trumpeted them as the only possible choice. The media called them leaders with kind hearts and a sense of moral fiber. Then they won the primary, and were all that stood between Barack Obama and the Presidency. Then the very same media destroyed them.

Luke Stibbs | The University of Fraser Valley | @LukeStibbs