Apparently stung by criticism and inundated with what he calls "far more hate mail than I usually get" over comments he made on August 15, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh lashed out, apparently at Media Matters for America, describing us on his August 18 show as "little pimple-faced kids that are working at wannabe websites." On August 16, Media Matters first reported that Limbaugh compared the actions of war critic Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, to Bill Burkett, the retired Texas Air National Guard officer who provided CBS' 60 Minutes with unauthenticated documents regarding President Bush's National Guard record. Asserting that Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents," Limbaugh said, "Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett."
Limbaugh claimed on August 18 that his comments were taken "out of context" and that he simply meant that "[t]he whole event [Sheehan's protest] is staged" and that "all she is is an opportunity like Bill Burkett was an opportunity, to bash Bush." But in our initial report, we provided the full August 15 Limbaugh quotation:
LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.
Limbaugh did not seem to think the comments were out of context when he posted a shorter version of the statement as a stand-alone quotation in the "members only" section of his own website.
As he did on his August 17 show, Limbaugh on August 18 again backed away from his comparison, playing a recording from his August 12 show in an apparent effort to demonstrate that he had previously expressed sympathy for the death of Sheehan's son.
But by August 16, he told listeners that he was tired of expressing sympathy:
LIMBAUGH: And frankly -- I'm also fed up -- not fed up. I retract that. I'm weary, ladies and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. "Oh, she lost her son" -- well, yes. Yes. Yes. But you know, this is [sigh] -- aaah. We all lose things. I mean -- Snerdley thinks the red flags are going up, so I should shut up now. Right?
No. I'm serious about this. At some point, you know, people have been bending over backwards to understand her, and give her the benefit of the doubt. But now she's starting to complain that the media's turned her act into a circus. Uh, and you know, I'm sure -- to make this even funnier. I'm sure you've got some of these non-factor little liberal radio shows out there thinking they're responsible for the crowd down there. And they're probably -- they can't wait to go down there and broadcast live from the place. You know, to extract their pound of flesh and make it look like they're the ones responsible for this. It's just a joke! It's a flat-out joke in practically every which way.
From the August 18 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: Folks! Everybody takes shots at the guy at the top of the mountain. If all I did, if I responded to these little ankle biters, these yipping little Chihuahuas out there, it would be all I would do. And all I would do would be elevate them in importance. There are other things to do here far more important than dealing with a bunch of inconsequential wannabe power brokers.
But there are exceptions to everything. And this has been going on all week, and I wanna set the record straight once and for all. Now, I don't expect this to work because the people who are making erroneous, fallacious, lying comments about things I've said about on this program don't even listen to this program and don't even go to my website to find out what I say. They rely on little pimple-faced kids that are working at wannabe websites who excerpt this program and others, take them out of context, and that's what they use as their source material.
Yesterday afternoon on Wolf Blitzer's new show, The Situation Room on CNN, the Forehead appeared, Paul Begala. Jump to audio sound bite number three. Let's start first with what the Forehead had to say. They were talking about the Cindy Sheehan story and Wolf said to the Forehead, "Do you think Cindy Sheehan's going too far?"
BEGALA (clip): No. She has a perfect right. She has absolute moral authority. She's a Gold Star mother. She gave her son's life for her country. And she has the most position, most pristine position to speak about these things. I think the conservative activists that they talked about are overplaying this in a terrible way. They could be having a legitimate debate over America's role in Iraq. Some people think we should do more, some less; it's an honest debate. Instead, they're attacking her personally. Rush Limbaugh, who is very close personally to George W. Bush and very close to the White House, has gone on his radio show and alleged that she's making this up. He said, 'Oh, she's just like the guy who forged documents, allegedly, about President Bush in the National Guard.' That's not true. She's not making this up. Her son actually died --
LIMBAUGH: Now, is this not patently absurd on its face? I'm making it up, she doesn't have a son? She doesn't have a son who died in Iraq? Begala will read this on some third-rate partisan website and will believe it? Will not even check it out? Wolf Blitzer said, "Making what up?" And Begala came back with this:
BEGALA (clip): You gotta ask Rush. He's suggesting that she's making it up that her son died. I mean, he's, they're attacking her personally instead of attacking her position on the war. You cannot ever win attacking a Gold Star mother personally."
LIMBAUGH: And [Situation Room guest] Bay Buchanan, of course, also clueless, agreed with Begala that you cannot attack a Gold Star mother personally. Let's go back, I'm gonna play for you the excerpt, I've got two excerpts here and then other comments. Let's go back to August 12 on this program, and when I first discussed Cindy Sheehan -- I had not even discussed it prior to then, prior to that moment. Because I think the woman is -- I think it's a sad situation all the way around, what's happened to her. And the influences that have been exerted on her and the way she is being used, I think it's despicable on the part of the left the way they're doing. I avoided it.
But I got a phone call about it. I got a phone call about it, the guy wanted to, told me what he thought about Cindy Sheehan and wanted my reaction. This is August 12, and here's what I said:
LIMBAUGH (clip): I find it difficult to be critical of Cindy Sheehan. I think she's a woman who lost her son. And I know that there have been a lot of people lose their kids in war. And I don't care who they are, it's not easy. And people deal with it in their own ways. I think the real shame here is her exploitation by the Democrats, by [Rep.] John Conyers [D-MI] -- John Conyers dragged her to his impeachment meeting over the Downing Street memos.
They have made her a star in her own mind and this attention that she's getting I'm sure is helping to assuage her loss. And it's just, to me it is -- and the media is exploiting her like she is a genuine spontaneous eruption. They are not telling the truth about how this woman has been shepherded by [former ambassador] Joe Wilson. There are pictures of her with Joseph Wilson. Yes, of Valerie Plame fame. She has showed up at all these anti-war rallies, she was an anti-war mother before any of this began to happen.
LIMBAUGH: And speaking of [outed CIA operative] Valerie Plame, I think the Valerie Plame story flamed out, and they had to have something come up and replace it. Just like [former National Security Council counterterrorism coordinator] Richard Clarke failed. And he flamed out. And then the Jersey Girls flamed out, and now, after that Valerie Plame flamed out, they had nothing on [White House senior adviser Karl] Rove, so they gotta fill the vacuum. It's right out of the playbook. They gotta fill the vacuum. Bill Burkett -- it's all part of the same playbook. It's all part of the same strategery employed by the left. But there you heard it, August 12: "I think she's a woman who lost her son. I don't care who they are, it's not easy." OK, so there it is, August 12. I find this patently absurd, this is even necessary.
Now here is a bite from August the 15th, three days later. And this is the bite that I contend is being taken out of context because I first said on August 12, and in the ensuing days, acknowledge she lost her son, talked about it, was even sympathetic and then went on to make the point that all she is is an opportunity like Bill Burkett was an opportunity, to bash Bush, like the Jersey Girls are an opportunity to bash Bush. Like Valerie Plame is an opportunity to bash Bush and bash Rove. Like the Jersey Girls were. She's just the next in line. And here's what I said on August 15:
LIMBAUGH (clip): The fact that they are too eager, I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's --
LIMBAUGH: Stop the tape! That is what is being taken out of context. When they -- I say "Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett; her story's nothing more than forged documents; there's nothing about it that's real including the mainstream media's glomming onto it." Meaning, the whole thing is staged! The whole event is staged. I have just said three days earlier and every day hence that she lost her son. And anybody who cares to research my website, listen to this program, knows it. To then put out a message that I think she's lying about her son, even being alive, that she didn't have a son. That she didn't have a son that died in Iraq, shows the desperation and the depths to which the people on the left will go to discredit people like me who they consider are their enemies.
Because they cannot beat us in the arena of ideas. They cannot answer what I am saying about Cindy Sheehan. They cannot answer what my accusations about the way she's being used are. They don't deal even go there, dare even go there, so they have to try to discredit me in the eyes of people who may not listen to this program or other people in the media, who are supposedly reporters, who are supposedly curious, who supposedly would wanna get to the bottom of something. If something like that's really being said, find out about it. But no, just accept what happens to be written in other places on the World Wide Web.
The real interesting thing to me is, these people are totally ignoring what Cindy Sheehan is saying. She is apparently their story, she is their God gift that's just been handed to them to keep the Bush bash up and in rhythm and they ignore what she is saying. And they wanna focus on everybody who's criticizing the whole element of movement that surrounds the Cindy Sheehan story. And to me, they're missing all of that on purpose. They don't want any scrutiny of what Sheehan's saying. That's why they come up with this asinine, indefensible phrase that she has absolute moral authority because she lost a son in Iraq, she can criticize anybody and lie and say whatever she wants as can her supporters.
But nobody can call attention to her lies or the way she's being used because she has absolute moral authority. Is that what we've come to now? You lose a son or a daughter in Iraq and you are insulated from criticism and you have a license to lie, as long as you're doing it about George W. Bush. What is this absolute moral authority business? These people are tattering, folks. They're shredding, they're coming apart intellectually, emotionally, and every which way. They have no substance whatsoever that buttresses them, that backs them up. They're standing in quicksand, as I've always been saying, and they know it. And they're lashing out -- the thing that's got them upset is that Sheehan is not working. It's not affecting anything. It's not changing public opinion. It is not affecting Bush's policy one way or another, one iota. And so, they just continue to get more extreme and outrageous and try to discredit the critics.