Reacting to a unanimous resolution by the U.S. Senate calling on the Pentagon to ensure fairness and balance on American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), Rush Limbaugh -- the only partisan radio host carried on the taxpayer-funded service -- on his June 17 show (click here for transcript pdf) misrepresented the resolution; assailed resolution sponsor Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): "[H]e's lying through his teeth about what was said on this program about the prison abuse scandal"; and trashed Media Matters for America as one of the "middle finger appendages of the Democratic Party."
Limbaugh also complained that he could not "depend on" congressional Republicans to oppose the effort to bring fairness and balance to AFRTS as the controversy about Limbaugh's comments continues to percolate on Capitol Hill and beyond.
During the June 17 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh misrepresented Harkin's resolution:
LIMBAUGH: I'm in a Defense appropriations bill!
For the past seven weeks, this little website, Media Matters, has been monitoring The Rush Limbaugh Show, transcribing and publishing my offensive statements regarding the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. And they've written Rumsfeld two letters demanding I be taken off. Rumsfeld didn't respond. So they went to Harkin and they've got their --
Now this is censorship. This is the United States government. This is a United States senator amending the Defense appropriations bill with the intent being to get this program -- only one hour of which is carried on Armed Forces Radio -- stripped from that network.
Media Matters for America did write to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on May 25 and on June 15, asking him to consider removing Limbaugh from AFRTS because Limbaugh has repeatedly downplayed, dismissed, and even endorsed the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Media Matters for America also launched a petition to remove Limbaugh from AFRTS. But neither Harkin's resolution, which amended the 2004 Department of Defense authorization bill, nor his statement in the Congressional Record, called for The Rush Limbaugh Show to be "stripped" from AFRTS. While Harkin said he agreed with critics that Limbaugh's comments "do damage to the American image when they are heard around the world," Harkin specifically stated, "I am not calling for American Forces Radio to pull Rush Limbaugh's commentaries from their talk radio service."
Limbaugh falsely accused Harkin of "lying through his teeth" in a statement about Limbaugh's prison abuse comments in the Congressional Record:
LIMBAUGH: And I just read this guy's [Senator Tom Harkin] statement, and he's lying through his teeth about what was said on this program about the prison abuse scandal. He's lying about what I said. He's taking it all out of context. He's regurgitating the out-of-text quotes taken by this so-called analyst website, which is nothing more than an appendage of the Democratic Party.
And so a bunch of falsehoods about me were spoken on the floor of the Senate yesterday, or in the paper. I don't know if it was on the floor or not, but -- but this is his official Congressional Record statement. It might have been verbal. Authorizing this amendment, or proposing this amendment. And it's full of -- it's just chock full of lies and -- and -- and misrepresentations and out of context statements.
And I've learned one thing. In some light -- you say the Republicans and the House and Senate are going -- I'm not going to depend on them, because I haven't seen that. They don't stand up for Bush.
On June 16, Harkin accurately quoted Limbaugh's comments in a statement in the Congressional Record. Click here to read Harkin's statement in PDF form or read the plain text here. Media Matters for America invites readers to view the full context of Limbaugh's remarks on the prison abuse scandal. The full transcripts of The Rush Limbaugh Show for May 3 through May 11 are posted on this website.
Even though no one, including Media Matters for America, has challenged Limbaugh's First Amendment right, Limbaugh vowed to "fight for [his] First Amendment right" against those who "have to take out Bush" but also "for some reason ... think they have to take me out":
There's nothing I can do to fix this other than to fight for my First Amendment right. And I'm going to, as I'm doing now. And I'm going to alert people to what is happening. And again, I want to stress that the reason it's happening is because not only do they have to take out Bush, for some reason, they think they have to take me out.
Now, I've told you, all these George Soros groups -- Take Over America, Take Back America, Media Matters for America, this new Lib Talk Radio Network -- this is all about Hillary Clinton. These groups are not businesses, they are not in the commercial business -- commercial sector to turn a profit. These are not groups in -- into analysis. They are action-oriented political groups seeking to advance the goals and ideas of the Democratic Party.
Make no mistake about it. And they're all in existence to help Hillary. They're all run, or controlled by, or influenced by the Clintonoids and their supporters. The Clintons have long, long, shall we say, had a problem with me. And it's that truth detector line. ... The fact is it is I who am and was the truth detector at -- when analyzing them. That's what they don't like. They want to blunt my effectiveness by using their allies in Congress and elsewhere to do what they can to silence me. It's raw politics, folks. It's the kind that dictators and the Clintons like. It's raw politics. This is what -- this is disguised as theories. Or what have you.
Read the full transcript of the June 16 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show here (pdf).