Stuck in a hole, Limbaugh keeps diggingCarpetbagger Report
October 3, 2007
When MoveOn's "Betray Us" ad drew a firestorm of attention, the progressive group stood by the advertisement, but it didn't take out another, even more provocative ad. When Rush Limbaugh drew the ire of Dems and veterans' groups for attacking soldiers who support withdrawal from Iraq as "phony," he decided to dive right back in.
In a VoteVets ad released yesterday, Iraq war veteran Brian McGough, a Purple Heart recipient, challenged Rush Limbaugh directly: "Until you have the guts to call me a 'phony soldier' to my face, stop telling lies about my service."
In response to the ad, Limbaugh compared McGough to a suicide bomber.
On the October 2 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh denounced a recent ad by VoteVets.org that featured Iraq war veteran Brian McGough, calling the ad "a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into."
Limbaugh went on to say that "[w]hoever pumped [McGough] full of these lies about what I said .... has betrayed him." Limbaugh denounced the ad despite admitting "I haven't watched the ad."
McGough took shrapnel to his head, which caused traumatic brain injury - as a result of an attack from an actual suicide bomber. Could Limbaugh possibly have chosen a more offensive metaphor?
As the controversy enters its second week, there were quite a few developments yesterday:
* Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays told the Senate Democratic leadership that he will not repudiate Limbaugh's criticism of the troops. "While I certainly do not agree with all views that are voiced on our stations, I will not condemn our talent for exercising their right to voice them," Mays said.
* The New York Times ran its first coverage of the story today, with this headline: "Limbaugh Latest Victim in War of Condemnation." The notion that Limbaugh can attack troops who disagree with him and be considered a "victim" seems rather odd.
* Fox News is rallying to Limbaugh's defense, including (surprise, surprise) misleading the network's viewers.
* CNN's Bill Bennett, with patently false claims, insisted yesterday that Limbaugh has been "smeared." He didn't appreciate the irony.
* The right's talking points on the controversy are utterly bizarre and dishonest, but have created a classic "he said, she said" media dynamic. Limbaugh, relying on edited transcripts, says he was taken out of context; his critics, using actual transcripts, disagree. Who's right? The media doesn't want to say. Media Matters felt compelled to put together a helpful "fact check" sheet.
* In the Senate, 41 Dems signed a letter condemning Limbaugh's remarks. Not a single Republican joined them.
* Digby: "The Republicans are going into full defense on Rush, which is what any smart organization does when its valuable assets are threatened. But Rush not only said what he said, he since edited his transcripts and lied repeatedly on the air. (You know what they say about it's not the crime it's the cover up...) His supporters will defend him against anything (and often have) but this one is documented - he got caught."
FACT CHECK: "Phony Soldiers" and Limbaugh's Revisionist History
Radio Talk-Show Host Falsely Claims Comments Taken Out of Context; Records Show Otherwise
Washington, DC - As the controversy over Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comments continues to grow, Media Matters for America would like to highlight the falsehoods that Limbaugh, America's top conservative talk-radio host, has used to claim that he was taken out of context.
Limbaugh claims he referred only to Jesse MacBeth, but smeared other veterans
Misinformation: On September 28, Limbaugh asserted that his "phony soldiers" comment was a reference to Jesse MacBeth, who pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for pretending to be an injured Iraq war veteran.
Fact: Limbaugh did not refer to MacBeth during his September 26 broadcast until 1 minute and 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment. Indeed, at no point during his September 26 radio show did Limbaugh refer to any soldiers he considered to be fake prior to making his "phony soldiers" comment.
Moreover, as the blog Crooks and Liars and Media Matters noted, in the September 28 broadcast, Limbaugh expanded the group of "phony soldiers" to include Vietnam veteran Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) and Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who is currently serving in Iraq. In asserting that he was originally "talking about a genuine phony soldier," Limbaugh went on to state: "And by the way, Jesse MacBeth's not the only one. How about this guy Scott Thomas who was writing fraudulent, phony things in The New Republic about atrocities he saw that never happened? How about Jack Murtha blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?"
According to Murtha's biography on his congressional website, Murtha joined the Marines in 1952 and volunteered for service in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
Limbaugh claims he was only speaking about one soldier, but used the plural
Misinformation: Limbaugh twice claimed that rather than speaking generally of soldiers who support withdrawal from Iraq, that he was "talking about one soldier with that 'phony soldier' comment, Jesse MacBeth."
Fact: As the transcript makes clear, Limbaugh actually referred to "phony soldiers," plural. Responding to a caller's statement that supporters of withdrawal "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media," Limbaugh responded, "The phony soldiers" [emphasis added].
Limbaugh claims to be a victim of "selective" editing, then aired edited clip and posted edited transcript
Misinformation: Limbaugh further asserted that "Media Matters had the transcript, but they selectively choose what they want to make their point." To support this claim, Limbaugh purported to air the "entire" segment in question from the September 26 broadcast of his show. Prior to airing the edited clip, Limbaugh said: "Here is, it runs about 3 minutes and 13 seconds, the entire transcript, in context, that led to this so-called controversy." After the clip ended, Limbaugh stated: "That was the transcript from yesterday's program, talking about one phony soldier. The truth for the left is fiction that serves their purpose, which is exactly the way the website Media Matters generated this story."
Fact: In fact, the clip he aired had been edited. Excised from the clip was a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of the 1 minute and 50 second discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his reference to MacBeth, the full audio of which can be heard here:
Fact: The transcript (subscription required) of the first segment of the first hour of his September 28 broadcast posted on Limbaugh's website, which Limbaugh described as being the "anatomy of a smear," is also edited and does not make clear how much time elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark and his discussion of MacBeth -- or even that any time did elapse: Limbaugh's transcript does not provide any notation or ellipsis to indicate that there is, in fact, a break in the transcript of the September 26 clip he used.
More from Media Matters for America ...
Limbaugh falsely recasts "phony soldiers" smear
Rush Limbaugh insisted that his September 26 remarks characterizing U.S. service members who support withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" had been taken out of context and that he was referring specifically to "one genuine, convicted, lying, fake soldier," Jesse MacBeth. But Limbaugh did not refer to MacBeth during his September 26 broadcast until 1 minute, 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment, and at no point on that show prior to making his "phony soldiers" comment did Limbaugh refer to any actual fake soldiers. Additionally, on September 28, Limbaugh misrepresented those comments.
Limbaugh expands group of "phony soldiers" to include Vietnam veteran Murtha
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh defended his statement characterizing service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" and expanded the group of "phony soldiers" to include Vietnam veteran Rep. John P. Murtha.
Limbaugh selectively edited "phony soldiers" clip, claimed it was "the entire transcript"
In response to Media Matters' documentation of his recent description of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers," Rush Limbaugh claimed that he had not been talking "about the anti-war movement generally," but rather "about one soldier ... Jesse MacBeth." Limbaugh then purported to air the "entire" segment in question. In fact, the clip he aired omitted a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his subsequent reference to MacBeth.
Like radio show, transcript on RushLimbaugh.com selectively edits his "phony soldiers" comments
Media Matters for America has previously noted how, during the September 28 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, in response to Media Matters' documentation of his recent characterization of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers," Rush Limbaugh selectively edited an audio clip of the September 26 exchange while calling it "the entire transcript" of the segment. Excised from the clip, however, was a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his subsequent reference to "one soldier ... Jesse MacBeth." The transcript (subscription required) of the first segment of the first hour of his September 28 broadcast posted on Limbaugh's website does not make clear how much time elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark and his discussion of MacBeth -- or even that any time did elapse: Limbaugh's transcript does not provide any notation or ellipsis to indicate that there is, in fact, a break in the transcript of the September 26 clip he used.
Members of Congress denounced Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" smear
Summary: Sen. Jim Webb and Reps. Frank Pallone, Jan Schakowsky, Chris Van Hollen, and Patrick Murphy denounced Rush Limbaugh for calling service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers," which Media Matters for America documented.
Limbaugh previously called Vietnam veteran Kerry "a fraud," "a total phony"
Summary: Rush Limbaugh's characterization of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" was not the first time that he has labeled a military service member a "phony." On his June 27 radio show, Limbaugh said of Sen. John Kerry, whose Vietnam record was the subject of a smear campaign by the discredited Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth: "The guy's a fraud! He's a total phony, and people were able to see it!"
Limbaugh: Service members who support U.S. withdrawal are "phony soldiers"
During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers." He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, "Mike from Chicago," who said he "used to be military," and "believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq." Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as "Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington," that "[t]here's a lot" that people who favor U.S. withdrawal "don't understand" and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, " 'Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.' ... 'Save the -- keeps the troops safe' or whatever," adding, "[I]t's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people." "Mike" from Olympia replied, "No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media." Limbaugh interjected, "The phony soldiers." The caller, who had earlier said, "I am a serving American military, in the Army," agreed, replying, "The phony soldiers."