Eleven days after radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) got Limbaugh's name removed -- at his own request -- from Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) amendment to the Defense bill to promote fairness and balance on taxpayer-funded American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), Limbaugh changed his account of his call to Senator Stevens. On June 29, Limbaugh said only, "I called Senator Stevens and he shared with me what it [the Harkin Amendment] said. And talked about it a little bit."
Limbaugh also continued to distort Senator Harkin's amendment, referring to it as a resolution "which was designed, ultimately, to get this program ... taken off of Armed Forces Radio," and later as "border[ing] on censorship". On June 18, Limbaugh had claimed outright that Harkin's amendment amounted to "censorship". Yet neither Harkin's amendment, nor his statement in the Congressional Record, called for The Rush Limbaugh Show to be removed 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."
As for the issue of balance, Limbaugh claimed, "I am equal time. They don't need to balance me. I'm the balance."
Limbaugh, who on June 18 appeared to refer to Media Matters for America as "a bunch of numbskulls that are extensions of the Democratic Party," got more specific in his attacks on MMFA on June 29, stating "this stupid little website ... has now got everybody all upset thinking that this [AFRTS programming] is unfair." Limbaugh also remarked that MMFA has "got Senator Tom Harkin in league with just what is -- essentially is not a website, it's a Democrat 527 organization disguised as a website." Media Matters for America, which may be found on the Web at mediamatters.org, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
From the June 29 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: This is -- this a story that's not new. This goes back to before I went on vacation. Remember when I told you that Senator Harkin attached a Sense of the Senate resolution to the Defense Appropriation bill, which was designed, ultimately, to get this program, one hour of which, taken off of Armed Forces Radio?
LIMBAUGH: Wolf Blitzer did the story. "Ah, this is no big deal." It's just a Sense of the Senate. And I called Senator Stevens and he shared with me what it said. And talked about it a little bit.
LIMBAUGH: Now make no mistake, what this -- what Tom Harkin is trying to do is not get Liberalism on the Armed Forces Radio Network, because it's already there. It's all over the place on Armed Forces Radio.
LIMBAUGH: All of a sudden, this stupid little website that's now claiming to transcribe my show, which I do every day, anyway, and put it on my own website, has now got everybody all upset thinking that this is unfair.
And they got Senator Tom Harkin in league with just what is -- essentially is not a website, it's a Democrat 527 organization disguised as a website. And so now there's this Sense of the Senate Resolution attached to the Defense Appropriation -- a United States senator.
Now this -- this is what borders on censorship.
LIMBAUGH: Now the reason people are screwed up with balance, is because of the media. ...Well, my view of balance is, this little three-hour program, for the longest time, was equal time to all the rest of the media, both radio and television. That's why I said, "I am equal time. They don't need to balance me. I'm the balance."
Well, now all of a sudden the tables have been turned, and one hour -- one hour of the Armed Forces Radio Network is now the focus on the United States Senate in the Senate Appropriations Bill.