O'Reilly attacked Media Matters for "peddling" "propaganda" about Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

Discussing Rush Limbaugh's controversial remarks about "phony soldiers," Bill O'Reilly claimed that "Media Matters is peddling that Mr. Limbaugh was denigrating soldiers who dissent from the Iraq War, but that doesn't seem to be true." As evidence, O'Reilly aired a clip of Limbaugh claiming that he "was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment. Jesse MacBeth." However, during the September 26 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh -- in his original comments -- actually referred to "phony soldiers," plural. Further, Limbaugh did not refer to Jesse MacBeth until one minute and 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment.

On the October 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly discussed conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's controversial remarks about "phony soldiers," and claimed that "Media Matters is peddling that Mr. Limbaugh was denigrating soldiers who dissent from the Iraq War, but that doesn't seem to be true." As evidence, O'Reilly aired a clip of Limbaugh claiming that he "was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment. Jesse MacBeth." But O'Reilly did not point out, as Media Matters for America has done, that during the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh -- in his original comments -- actually referred to "phony soldiers," plural. O'Reilly also ignored the fact that Limbaugh did not refer to Jesse MacBeth until one minute and 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment.

Later, O'Reilly's guest, blogger Brian Maloney, also claimed that "Rush was talking about Jesse MacBeth and actual phony soldiers." Maloney asserted, "It couldn't be more obvious, Bill. What he was talking about -- this started two days earlier with an ABC news piece" about phony soldiers and "[o]n Wednesday morning, Rush Limbaugh had a taped commentary where he discussed that." In fact, contrary to Maloney's claim, Limbaugh's Morning Update discussing fake soldiers -- specifically Jesse MacBeth -- was aired Tuesday, September 25 (subscription required), a full day before Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment. Further, as Media Matters has noted, after a caller to his September 28 program questioned Limbaugh about his use of "soldiers" -- plural -- Limbaugh then said that he had been referring to more than one "phony soldier." From the September 28 broadcast:

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?

O'Reilly introduced his segment on Limbaugh's remarks by stating: "More smears from the despicable Media Matters organization, which is funded by far-left dollars. In addition to me, Rush Limbaugh is a favorite target of these guttersnipes, who distort hours of talk radio, hoping to create phony controversies." After airing the audio clip in which Limbaugh referred to anti-war soldiers as "phony soldiers," O'Reilly asserted: "Now Media Matters is peddling that Mr. Limbaugh was denigrating soldiers who dissent from the Iraq war, but that doesn't seem to be true." O'Reilly uncritically aired Limbaugh's defense -- that he was referring to "one soldier with that phony soldier comment" -- and attacked the "media [that] picked up the phony story from Media Matters," and politicians such as former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for "spreading the propaganda" by condemning Limbaugh's attacks.

In fact, as Media Matters has noted, Limbaugh made his original "phony soldiers" comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, "Mike from Chicago," who said he "used to be military," and "believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq." Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as "Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington," that "[t]here's a lot" that people who favor U.S. withdrawal "don't understand" and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, 'Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.' ... 'Save the -- keeps the troops safe' or whatever," adding, "[I]t's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people." "Mike" from Olympia replied, "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 interjected, "The phony soldiers." The caller, who had earlier said, "I am a serving American military, in the Army," agreed, replying, "The phony soldiers." It was not until one minute and 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment that Limbaugh referred to MacBeth on that show.

For his part, Maloney began his commentary by claiming that: "This entire situation is completely outrageous." Referring to O'Reilly's recent controversial remarks about his visit to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem, Maloney added: "You've already been targeted by these people. When they couldn't get rid of you last week, they quickly switched gears and moved into Rush Limbaugh's territory. And now, this is an ongoing campaign to destroy talk radio, to destroy anyone that disagrees with them. They have become the self-appointed censors, this George Soros-funded campaign. It's absolutely ridiculous." Later, O'Reilly added: "[W]e want to be accurate here. ... The Democracy Alliance gets Soros money and then doles it out to far left hit men like Media Matters." In fact, as Media Matters has repeatedly noted, it has received no money from philanthropist George Soros -- either directly or indirectly, including through the Democracy Alliance.

From the October 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Now for the top story tonight, talk about fair play. More smears from the despicable Media Matters organization, which is funded by far-left dollars. In addition to me, Rush Limbaugh is a favorite target of these guttersnipes, who distort hours of talk radio, hoping to create phony controversies. Here is the latest.

[begin video clip]

CALLER: What's really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers to come up out of the blue and talk the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

[end video clip]

O'REILLY: All right. Now, Media Matters is peddling that Mr. Limbaugh was denigrating soldiers who dissent from the Iraq war, but that doesn't seem to be true.

LIMBAUGH [video clip]: The same group is trying to get Bill O'Reilly into problems, because of some innocent comments that he made about going to dinner at a restaurant in Harlem. I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment: Jesse MacBeth.

O'REILLY: Now, MacBeth tried to position himself as a veteran when he was kicked out of the Army in basic training.

The following media picked up the phony story from Media Matters: MSNBC, of course, the Boston Herald, the Minneapolis Star[Tribune], the Chicago Sun-Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the AP, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Baltimore Sun, and CBSnews.com, the usual suspects.

Also, spreading the propaganda, John Edwards and Senator Harry Reid.

REID [video clip]: Last week, Rush Limbaugh went way over the line. Way over the line. And while I respect his right to say anything he likes, his unpatriotic comments I cannot ignore.

O'REILLY: Joining us now from Boston, Brian Maloney, who runs a blog called The Radio Equalizer.

Now, I did not hear the Rush Limbaugh broadcast. I'm operating off of transcripts, which is a lot of crosstalk. That means that Mr. Limbaugh and a guest caller talking at the same time.

The accusation by Harry Reid and the other anti-Limbaugh crew says that the discussion was Limbaugh denigrating soldiers who dissent from the Iraq war. Is that true, sir?

MALONEY: No, it most certainly is not, Bill. This entire situation is completely outrageous. You've already been targeted by these people. When they couldn't get rid of you last week, they quickly switched gears and moved into Rush Limbaugh's territory. And now, this is an ongoing campaign to destroy talk radio, to destroy anyone that disagrees with them. They have become the self-appointed censors, this George Soros-funded campaign. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Rush was talking about Jesse MacBeth and actual phony soldiers. There is an entire movement out there of people who are trying to expose these phony soldiers, people who have not served, people who have not gone to Iraq --

O'REILLY: All right, so that.

MALONEY: -- and who are claiming atrocities.

O'REILLY: Now you are 100 percent positive that he wasn't talking about soldiers who dissent from the Iraq war. He was talking about soldiers who put themselves off as Iraqi veterans or, you know --

MALONEY: Right.

O'REILLY: -- veterans of this campaign when they aren't. That's what he was talking about?

MALONEY: It couldn't be more obvious, Bill. What he was talking about -- this started two days earlier with an ABC news piece, where they used almost the same language. And they used the very same context as Rush on Monday. On Wednesday morning, Rush Limbaugh had a taped commentary where he discussed that, that --

O'REILLY: That was a [ABC News chief investigative correspondent] Brian Ross piece --

MALONEY: Right.

O'REILLY: -- about the masquerading of some soldiers to denigrate the war.

All right now.

MALONEY: Right.

O'REILLY: .You mentioned George Soros funds Media Matters. He does it through -- because we want to be accurate here --

MALONEY: Right.

O'REILLY: -- the Democracy Alliance. All right? The Democracy Alliance gets Soros money and then doles it out to far-left hitmen like Media Matters.

OK, now.

MALONEY: That is exactly right.

O'REILLY: The key question -- the key issue here is not me or Rush Limbaugh. It's not it. It's Harry Reid, a senator, the Senate majority leader going to the floor, using the stuff. John Edwards used it as well. Taking it right from Media Matters. And we just listed the news organizations that did it. Last week on my thing, it was outrageous the news organizations.

MALONEY: It was.

O'REILLY: Outrageous what the lies that they perpetuated.

So now in this country, we have far-left media assassins on the Internet who know they can get their propaganda, their hateful defamation into not only the media, but on the Senate floor.

MALONEY: Well, that's exactly right, Bill. And by the way, Republicans are hopefully going to be introducing their own resolution on the House floor, Jack Kingston Republican representative of Georgia, commending Rush Limbaugh for his support for American troops, telling the truth.

Rush Limbaugh has never been against the troops. This is the most outrageous smear I've ever heard in my life.

By the way, your discussion was so far from being racist, it's unbelievable. I mean, you had a very interesting topic where you were truly talking about the fact that people --

O'REILLY: Well, everybody.

MALONEY: -- aren't being exposed to other kinds of people.

O'REILLY: At this point.

MALONEY: They rely on stereotypes.

O'REILLY: Mr. Maloney, everybody who's taken the time to listen to the tape, which is on our website, and Juan Williams, and read his article knows them. But it's very disturbing what's happening in this country, Mr. Maloney. And we are trying to get Rush Limbaugh on this broadcast tomorrow to talk about it because I think we now need to go on a counterattack and knock these people out. Because this isn't freedom of speech. This is rank defamation.

Mr. Maloney, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

MALONEY: Absolutely, thank you.

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Bill O'Reilly
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