AP misrepresented context of Limbaugh "phony soldiers" comment

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

A September 28 Associated Press article about comments made by Rush Limbaugh on his September 26 radio show -- in which, as documented by Media Matters for America, he called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers" -- reported: "In a transcript of Thursday's show posted on his Web site, Limbaugh said the comment followed a discussion of Jesse Macbeth, who was sentenced to five months in prison earlier this month for collecting more than $10,00 [sic] in benefits to which he was not entitled." In fact, the "phony soldiers" comment did not "follow a discussion of Jesse Macbeth"; Limbaugh did not mention MacBeth on the September 26 radio show until 1 minute and 50 seconds after his "phony soldiers" comment, as Media Matters noted.

On the September 28 broadcast of his program, Limbaugh claimed that his September 26 "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, as Media Matters noted, at no point during his September 26 radio show prior to making his "phony soldiers" comment did Limbaugh refer to MacBeth, or indeed any specific soldiers whom he considered to be fake. 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 (subscription required) posted on his website about MacBeth. Limbaugh's "Morning Updates" also air on the radio separately from his nationally syndicated show.

During the September 28 broadcast, Limbaugh 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. In fact, the clip he then aired had been edited. Excised from the clip was a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of the 1:50 discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his reference to MacBeth, the full audio of which can be heard here. However, even the edited clip Limbaugh played showed that his discussion of Jesse MacBeth came after his "phony soldiers" comment during the show that day.

Further, the AP article did not note that 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," while showing that the discussion of MacBeth came after the "phony soldiers" comment, does not make clear how much time elapsed between the two -- or even that any time did elapse. As Media Matters noted, 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.

From the September 28 AP article:

In a transcript of Thursday's [sic: Friday's] show posted on his Web site, Limbaugh said the comment followed a discussion of Jesse Macbeth, who was sentenced to five months in prison earlier this month for collecting more than $10,00 [sic] in benefits to which he was not entitled.

Macbeth, 23, of Tacoma, Wash., tried to position himself as a leader of the anti-war movement by claiming to have participated in war crimes when in fact he was kicked out of the Army in 2003 after six weeks at Fort Benning, Ga.

"He became a hero to the anti-war left. They love phony soldiers, and they prop 'em up," Limbaugh said Thursday [sic: Friday]. "I was not talking ... about the anti-war movement generally. I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment, Jesse MacBeth."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Military Personnel & Veterans
Network/Outlet
Associated Press
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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