Limbaugh falsely recasts "phony soldiers" smear

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

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.

On the September 28 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, in arguing that he had been taken out of context by Media Matters for America, Rush Limbaugh misrepresented his "phony soldiers" comment.

As Media Matters documented, Limbaugh had the following exchange with a caller on his September 26 radio show:

LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even -- if -- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull -- what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't -- I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what --

LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: 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: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --

On September 28, Limbaugh asserted that his "phony soldiers" comment was a reference to Jesse MacBeth, an anti-war activist 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. However, Limbaugh did not refer to MacBeth during his September 26 broadcast until one 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, in an effort to support his assertion that Media Matters distorted his remarks, Limbaugh actually misrepresented his own comments. 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." But as the transcript makes clear, Limbaugh actually referred to "phony soldiers," plural. Responding to the 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].

From the September 28 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I was not talking, as [MSNBC's] Contessa Brewer said here, about the anti-war movement generally. I was talking about one soldier with that "phony soldier" comment, Jesse MacBeth. They had exactly what I'm going to play for you. This is Michael J. Fox all over again. Media Matters had the transcript, but they selectively choose what they want to make their point. Here is -- it runs about 3 minutes and 13 seconds -- the entire transcript, in context, that led to this so-called controversy.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: He just assumed that what he was told was true, that I called anti-war troops "phony soldiers," when everybody involved in this knows full well I was talking about one genuine, convicted, lying, fake soldier who was undermining this mission, who was doing his best to demoralize the troops. I stand up for the troops. The Democrat [sic] Party has been trying to demoralize them. The Democrat Party has been trying to lose the Iraq war, the war on terror. They own defeat. They are invested in it. They have failed to hang defeat around the neck of this president and the presidency they have been trying to destroy.

Later on September 28, Limbaugh again changed his story after a caller pointed out the contradiction:

LIMBAUGH: Putting it all in context -- I'm sorry you missed it. What I can tell you is that what you're hearing on these shows is, is so incompetently, purposefully taken out of context. It's something I never said. I was talking -- I did say, "phony soldiers," talking about an actual fraud named Jesse MacBeth, who is found --

CALLER: But you did say "soldiers" in plural, though, didn't you?

LIMBAUGH: Yes, because there have been a number of these people, but they were not active duty -- I was not talking about anti-war, active duty troops. I was talking about people who've been exposed as frauds who never served in Iraq but claimed to have seen all these atrocities, [unintelligible]. Claimed to be a Green Beret, he was an Army Ranger, he never was [unintelligible]. Claimed that he had a Purple Heart. He never got one. He was busted out of the Army in 44 days in boot camp. This is the guy I was talking about.

CALLER: OK, I don't know much about him, but, uh, can we talk about global warming?

Further, contrary to Limbaugh's assertion that Media Matters took him out of context, Media Matters' item documenting Limbaugh's comments included a 985-word transcript from the show along with 4 minutes and 38 seconds of audio.

One minute and 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment, Limbaugh told listeners, "Here is a 'Morning Update' that we did recently talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. And they have their celebrities. One of them was Jesse MacBeth." Limbaugh then read from a September 25 "Morning Update" article and podcast (subscription required) posted on his website about MacBeth.

Limbaugh's assertion that he was talking only about MacBeth is further undermined by the fact that in a conversation immediately before the one in which Limbaugh referred to "phony soldiers," he appeared to question whether a caller who had advocated withdrawing from Iraq had actually been a soldier, as he had claimed.

From Limbaugh's September 26 radio show:

LIMBAUGH: Mike, you can't possibly be a Republican.

CALLER 1: I am.

LIMBAUGH: You are -- you are --

CALLER 1: I am definitely a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: You can't be a Republican. You are --

CALLER 1: Oh, I am definitely a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: You are tarnishing the reputation, 'cause you sound just like a Democrat.

CALLER 1: No, but --

LIMBAUGH: The answer to your question --

CALLER 1: -- seriously, how long do we have to stay there --

LIMBAUGH: As long as it takes!

CALLER 1: -- to win it? How long?

LIMBAUGH: As long as it takes! It is very serious.

CALLER 1: And that is what?

LIMBAUGH: This is the United States of America at war with Islamofascists. We stay as long -- just like your job. You do everything you have to do, whatever it takes to get it done, if you take it seriously.

CALLER 1: So then you say we need to stay there forever --

LIMBAUGH: I -- it won't --

CALLER 1: -- because that's what it'll take.

LIMBAUGH: No, Bill, or Mike -- I'm sorry. I'm confusing you with the guy from Texas.

CALLER 1: See, I -- I've used to be military, OK? And I am a Republican.

LIMBAUGH: Yeah. Yeah.

CALLER 1: And I do live [inaudible] but --

LIMBAUGH: Right. Right. Right, I know.

CALLER 1: -- you know, really -- I want you to be saying how long it's gonna take.

LIMBAUGH: And I, by the way, used to walk on the moon!

CALLER 1: How long do we have to stay there?

LIMBAUGH: You're not listening to what I say. You can't possibly be a Republican. I'm answering every question. That's not what you want to hear, so it's not even penetrating your little wall of armor you've got built up.

Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment and his subsequent discussion of MacBeth are below:

LIMBAUGH: Another Mike, this one in Olympia, Washington. Welcome to the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER 2: Hi Rush, thanks for taking my call.

LIMBAUGH: You bet.

CALLER 2: I have a retort to Mike in Chicago, because I am a serving American military, in the Army. I've been serving for 14 years, very proudly.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you, sir.

CALLER 2: And, you know, I'm one of the few that joined the Army to serve my country, I'm proud to say, not for the money or anything like that. What I would like to retort to is that, if we pull -- what these people don't understand is if we pull out of Iraq right now, which is about impossible because of all the stuff that's over there, it'd take us at least a year to pull everything back out of Iraq, then Iraq itself would collapse, and we'd have to go right back over there within a year or so. And --

LIMBAUGH: There's a lot more than that that they don't understand. They can't even -- if -- the next guy that calls here, I'm gonna ask him: Why should we pull -- what is the imperative for pulling out? What's in it for the United States to pull out? They can't -- I don't think they have an answer for that other than, "Well, we just gotta bring the troops home."

CALLER 2: Yeah, and, you know what --

LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: 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: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --

CALLER 2: A lot of them -- the new kids, yeah.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you signed up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan or somewhere.

CALLER 2: Exactly, sir. And -- and my other comment was -- and the reason I was calling for -- was to report to Jill about the fact that we didn't, didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. Actually, we have found weapons of mass destruction in chemical agents that [inaudible] been using against us for awhile now.

I've done two tours in Iraq. I just got back in June and there were many instances of -- since [inaudible] not know what they're using in their IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. They're using mustard artillery rounds. The vx-artillery rounds in their IEDs.

Because they didn't know what they were using, they didn't do it right, and so it just kind of -- it, it didn't really hurt anybody but there are -- those munitions are over there, it's just -- it's a huge desert. If they've buried it somewhere, we're never gonna find it.

LIMBAUGH: Well, you know, that's a moot point for me right now --

MIKE: Rush --

LIMBAUGH: -- the weapons of mass destruction. We gotta get beyond that. We're, we're there. What -- who cares if, if -- we all know they were there and, and Mahmoud [Ahmadinejad, Iranian president] even admitted it in one of his speeches here about -- talkin' about Saddam using the poison mustard gas or whatever it is on his own people -- but that, that's moot, right? What, what's more important is all this is taking place now in the midst of the surge working.

And all of these anti-war Democrats are getting even more hell-bent on pulling out of there, which means that success on the part of you and, and your colleagues over there is, is a great threat to them. It's just, it's frustrating and maddening, and it is why they must be kept in the minority.

Look, I want to thank you, Mike, for calling. I appreciate it very much. I gotta -- let me see -- got something -- here is a "Morning Update" that we did recently talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. And they have their celebrities.

One of them was Jesse MacBeth. Now, he was a "corporal," I say in quotes - 23 years old.

[reading from "Morning Update" (subscription required)]

What made Jesse MacBeth a hero to the anti-war crowd wasn't his Purple Heart. It wasn't his being affiliated with post traumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, though. What made Jesse MacBeth, Army Ranger, a hero to the left was his courage in their view off the battlefield.

Without regard to consequences, he told the world the abuses he had witnessed in Iraq: American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, hundreds of men, women, even children. In one gruesome account translated into Arabic and spread widely across the internet, Army Ranger Jesse MacBeth describes the horrors this way:

'We would burn their bodies. We would hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque.'

Now, recently, Jesse MacBeth, a poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court, and you know what? He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs' claim and his Army discharge record.

He was in the Army. Jesse MacBeth was in the Army, folks, briefly -- 44-days before he washed out of boot camp. Jesse MacBeth isn't an Army Ranger. Never was. He isn't a corporal. Never was. He never won the Purple Heart and he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen."

You probably haven't even heard about this, and if you have, you haven't heard much about it. This doesn't fit the narrative and the template of the drive-by media and the Democrat Party as to who a genuine war hero is.

Don't look for any retractions, by the way, not from the anti-war left, the anti-military drive-by media or the Arabic websites that spread Jesse MacBeth's lies about our troops, because the truth of the left is fiction, is what serves their purpose. They have to lie about such atrocities 'cause they can't find any that fit the template of the way they see the U.S. military.

In other words, for the American anti-war left, the greatest inconvenience they face is the truth.

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