Limbaugh's AFN audience has heard only misrepresentations of his "phony soldiers" comment on his show

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

During the first hour of the October 1 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, in response to a Media Matters for America item documenting his recent description of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers," Rush Limbaugh said: "I want to apologize to all of the members of the United States military, both in uniform and out, active duty and retired, for Media Matters for America." Limbaugh continued: "They will not apologize to you, and they will not apologize to me. I want to apologize to you on behalf of them." Limbaugh later asserted: "The bottom line to all this is that, last week, with this smear and this phony accusation regarding something I had not said about active duty military personnel, or even those who opposed the war, was that, once again, the integrity of the U.S. military was brought into question when the integrity of the sourcing group, Media Matters for America, should have been brought into question." But Limbaugh has misrepresented his "phony soldiers" comments; indeed, listeners to Armed Forces Network (AFN), which broadcasts only the first hour of The Rush Limbaugh Show, heard only a spliced version of Limbaugh's remarks in which he edited out 1 minute and 35 seconds of discussion, while falsely claiming that he was providing the "entire transcript."

Limbaugh's original reference to "phony soldiers" occurred during the second hour of the September 26 edition of his show, and therefore was not heard by AFN listeners. During the first hour of the September 28 broadcast of his show, however, Limbaugh -- reacting to strong criticism over his comments -- played an edited version of the discussion, which he presented as complete. That was the first time his AFN audience would have heard the comments on his radio show. During that broadcast, Limbaugh claimed that on September 26, he had not been talking "about the anti-war movement generally," but rather "about one soldier ... Jesse MacBeth." To support this claim, Limbaugh purported to air the "entire" segment in question from the September 26 broadcast. But as Media Matters noted, the clip he aired omitted a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of the 1 minute and 50 second discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his reference to MacBeth.

Moreover, during the first hour of his September 28 broadcast, Limbaugh actually misrepresented his own comments in an effort to support his assertion that Media Matters had distorted his remarks. Limbaugh twice claimed that rather than speaking generally of soldiers who support withdrawal from Iraq, he was "talking about one soldier with that 'phony soldier' comment, Jesse MacBeth." But as the transcript makes clear, Limbaugh originally referred to "phony soldiers," plural. Responding to a 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].

In addition, Limbaugh referred to Media Matters as a "Hillary Clinton front group." In fact, as previously noted in response to similar claims from Limbaugh, Media Matters is not affiliated with any political party or candidate.

From the October 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I want to apologize to all of the members of the United States military, both in uniform and out, active duty and retired, for Media Matters for America. They will not apologize to you, and they will not apologize to me. I want to apologize to you on behalf of them. As all of you military personnel know, I -- since the beginning of time and since the beginning of this program, certainly 19 years ago -- have been one of the most ardent, loyal, in-awe supporters of any and all who wear the uniform -- including those who disagree with the mission.

I found a couple of them when I was in Afghanistan on a troop visit. I went over to five base visits in Afghanistan, and did Q&A, sometimes for two hours with assembled troops at the various bases. Not all of them were happy with me in terms of my politics and so forth, but I told every damn one of them that I was in awe of them and that I wanted to come speak to them, and I purposely asked to go on this trip -- and I'd been asking for a long time. This is the first time I've been granted permission.

But I wanted to go on this trip because at the time this was all happening, Afghanistan had sort of cooled off and there wasn't much news coming out of there, but Iraq was roiling, and the news out of Iraq was -- well, you know what it was. It was bad: "We can't win"; "We're losing"; "Too many deaths" -- and all this sort of thing. And I wanted to go tell them, personally, as an American, how small and -- of a minority those thoughts about them were -- that there was love and respect and adoration for all who wear the uniform in this country, active duty or not, but I was specifically referring to people in combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And I stood up before them, and I said -- even to the ones who let it be known that they disagreed with me politically, not on the war, but politically -- I mean, they all wanted victory, and they all were doing their duty, and they all said they were there to protect their country. This is what they chose to do after 9-11 happened. And I stood before them and I said -- and I -- there are a lot of people, by the way, who were thanking me and all of that. It ran the gamut -- "I don't care who you are. I stand before you, and I feel, you know, six inches tall. Compared to what you're doing, I'm just, you know, uttering words here. I just wanted to come convey support because you're not getting a whole lot of it in the mainstream media in our country, and the attitudes toward you of the American people are being misrepresented to you in droves." You're --

I said, "When you get back and walk into most airports in this country, you are going to be given standing ovations and applause." Of course, that -- the story coming out of Oakland -- and it's -- I guess there's some controversy about it, but apparently, some Marines getting home, landing at Oakland, were spit on by people in the Oakland airport. Now, I haven't been able to confirm it, but it's on a couple blogs and apparently there's some witnesses that say that they did see it.

Bottom line to all this -- and I've -- you know, I've been -- I've described to you that the visit I took to Washington to Walter Reed Army Hospital and the amputee rehabilitation unit. So many of these men and their wives were thanking me for what I'm doing -- that makes me feel six inches tall as well. In fact, Justice [Clarence] Thomas and I discussed this in the interview coming up you will hear. I said, "I'm just uttering words. You guys, look at you." No, no, no. They were upbeat and happy. One guy had lost both arms; couldn't wait to get married six months down the road. He said, "Look, we all have our roles, man, and you keep doing what you're doing."

The bottom line to all this is is that, last week, with this smear and this phony accusation regarding something I had not said about active duty military personnel, or even those who opposed the war, was that, once again, the integrity of the U.S. military was brought into question when the integrity of the sourcing group, Media Matters for America, should have been brought into question.

A Hillary Clinton front group, they will continue to be used as an accredited source by the drive-by media, despite the fact that they have now been demonstrated to make things up, take things out of context, and embarrass those who report what they say. They will continue to be a source, because this is the '08 playbook that we saw break down last week -- and the Democrats may still introduce their resolution in the House castigating me. I don't know. The House doesn't go into session 'til two o'clock. We'll have to wait and see. Don't know if they will do that or not.

If they do, it's just an effort to try to portray themselves as pro-military 'cause they know they have to because they know the impression they have accurately created is that they're not pro-military, from [Rep.] Jack Murtha [D-PA] to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] claiming defeat, [Sen.] John Kerry's [D-MA] lifetime of criticism of the soldiers. So they're going to try to deflect the criticism away from their pet organization, MoveOn.org, whose "Betray Us" ad backfired totally on them. It was a Wellstone moment for them, as will this be.

But since you will never get an apology from Jack Murtha for mischaracterizing you as murderers; since you'll never get an apology from John Kerry; since you won't get an apology from Media Matters for America or anybody who works there -- to all of you in the U.S. Military -- I want to apologize to you for them for the, again, firestorm over something that did not happen regarding your valor and your commitment to freedom and democracy last week on this program. I really regret that it happened, and I apologize to you on their behalf since they won't.

[commercial break]

LIMBAUGH: OK, we got a little wager going here. How long will it take Media Matters for America to report that I, Rush Limbaugh, apologized to the troops, period -- which is not what I did. I apologized to troops on behalf of Media Matters for America, because they will not. Let's see how they distort this. They are totally capable of it. Clarence Thomas is coming next.

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