On Fox News Live, Jim Angle repeatedly misrepresented both Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment and the arguments of "Limbaugh's critics," falsely reinforcing Limbaugh's claim that he was referring to actual military imposters, rather than service members or former service members with whom he disagrees.
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On the October 2 edition of Fox News Live, discussing Rush Limbaugh's characterization of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" during the September 26 edition of his radio show, Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle repeatedly misrepresented both Limbaugh's remarks and the arguments of "Limbaugh's critics," falsely reinforcing Limbaugh's claim that he was referring to actual military imposters, rather than service members or former service members with whom he disagrees.
Angle said that Democrats were "going after" Limbaugh following their failure to denounce MoveOn.org's September 10 ad in The New York Times, titled "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" Angle asserted: "I think what you have here, E.D., is a lot of Democrats who would not vote to condemn the MoveOn.org ad that called General [David] Petraeus 'General Betray Us' ... have found religion on this issue and are going after Rush Limbaugh." Co-host E.D. Hill responded to this assertion by saying, "It sounds like there's a whiff of hypocrisy there in Washington." In fact, 46 Democratic senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), voted for an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that did refer to the ad as "an unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus."
Further, 146 Democratic congressmen supported Rep. Jerry Lewis' (R-CA) motion to add an amendment that "condemn[ed] in the strongest possible terms the personal attacks made by the advocacy group MoveOn.org impugning the integrity and professionalism of General David H. Petraeus" to a funding bill. Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), who is offering a resolution "honoring all Americans serving in the Armed Forces of the United States and condemning the attack by broadcaster Rush Limbaugh on the integrity and professionalism of some of those Americans," was one of the House Democrats to vote for Lewis' motion. Seventy-nine House Democrats voted against Lewis' motion.
In the same report, on the 11 a.m. ET hour of Fox News Live on October 2, Angle advanced several other falsehoods about Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comments, many of which originated with Limbaugh himself:
- Angle stated: "Well, [Jesse] MacBeth was the person at issue in this broadcast, and one of the people they were talking about." MacBeth, an anti-war activist, 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. In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, Limbaugh did not mention MacBeth on the September 26 edition of his show until 1 minute and 50 seconds after he used the phrase "phony soldiers" and, beyond appearing to question the military credentials of one caller who said he had been in the military, did not mention any other specific "phony soldiers" on the show.
- Angle claimed that "the fact that Rush Limbaugh mentioned some other people is what the critics point to." While the blog Crooks and Liars and Media Matters have noted that during his September 28 show, Limbaugh expanded the group of "phony soldiers" to include Vietnam veteran Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) and Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who is currently serving in Iraq, Media Matters has also documented that Limbaugh did not refer to any specific service members when he made his original comments and that he has repeatedly misrepresented his "phony soldiers" comments in response to Media Matters.
As Media Matters documented, during the September 28 edition of his show, 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." However, as the transcript makes clear, Limbaugh actually referred to "phony soldiers," plural on September 26. 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]. Later in the broadcast, in response to a caller's question, "But you did say 'soldiers' in plural, though, didn't you?" Limbaugh asserted: "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]."
As Media Matters also noted, during the September 28 broadcast of his show, Limbaugh also claimed that "Media Matters had the transcript [of the original broadcast], 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 cropped. Excised from the clip was 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.^
- Angle stated that MacBeth was "one of the people that was at issue, and did come up in that broadcast, though the exchange that Rush had with that other soldier was about those who come out in favor of withdrawal who have not actually served in the military, or who have not actually served in Iraq." In fact, while Limbaugh asserted during his September 28 broadcast that he "was not talking about anti-war, active duty troops" when he used the phrase "phony soldiers" during his September 26 broadcast, he did not limit the characterization to people "who have not actually served in the military, or who have not actually served in Iraq," as Angle asserted. He did not limit the characterization at all, as the transcript indicates.
Subsequently, during the noon ET hour, Angle asserted that "Limbaugh's passing mention of 'phony soldiers,' he says, was a reference to Jesse MacBeth, among others." In fact, as Media Matters documented, Limbaugh did not mention MacBeth on the September 26 edition of his show until 1 minute and 50 seconds after he used the phrase "phony soldiers." Angle also repeated his assertion that Democrats were being hypocritical, saying that "there's another argument too: Democrats, many of whom would not vote to condemn the MoveOn.org ad calling General Petraeus 'General Betray Us' are now waging a campaign against Rush Limbaugh."
From the noon ET hour of the October 2 edition of Fox News Live:
JON SCOTT (host): Senate Democrats are going after radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The Democrats slammed Limbaugh for supposedly saying troops who oppose the war are, quote, "phony soldiers." They're demanding an apology, but Limbaugh says they are twisting what he said. Now the conservative talk show host is firing back. Let's check in with Jim Angle, live now in Washington. Jim, I guess some see this as Democratic senators frustrated with their inability to change the course of the war in Iraq. Now they're trying to change, I guess, the messenger, or go after some of the messengers on the war.
ANGLE: Well, there's that, and there's another argument too: Democrats, many of whom would not vote to condemn the MoveOn.org ad calling General Petraeus "General Betray Us" are now waging a campaign against Rush Limbaugh for an exchange he had with an Iraqi veteran who was complaining about those arguing for withdrawal.
[begin audio clip]
CALLER: 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: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq.
[end audio clip]
ANGLE: Now, Limbaugh's passing mention of "phony soldiers," he says, was a reference to Jesse MacBeth, among others. MacBeth is a disgraced former soldier who became an anti-war activist after falsely claiming to have participated in war crimes in Iraq, and having received a Purple Heart, when in fact he had never set foot in Iraq, and was discharged from the Army after only 44 days of service, before he even completed basic training. But the Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, argued that Limbaugh's comments were broader than that, and were intended as a smear of all American troops who want withdrawal in Iraq -- from Iraq.
REID [video clip]: While American of goodwill debate the merits of this war, we can all agree that those who serve with such great courage deserve our deepest respect and gratitude. That's why Rush Limbaugh's recent characterization of troops who oppose the war as "phony soldiers" is an outrage.
ANGLE: Limbaugh argues he did not in any way disparage American soldiers serving in Iraq, but House Democrats want a vote of condemnation over the comment, and Senator Reid is demanding that the syndicator of Limbaugh's program repudiate his remark. Limbaugh, of course, is now challenging Reid to come on his program and to debate the matter. Jon?
SCOTT: That would make for good radio. I'd like to hear that.
From the 11 a.m. hour of the October 2 edition of Fox News Live:
HILL: A lot to cover here. Chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle, helping us sort everything out. So exactly how does this MacBeth fit into all of this?
ANGLE: Well, MacBeth was the person at issue in this broadcast, and one of the people they were talking about. Now, the fact that Rush Limbaugh mentioned some other people is what the critics point to. But Jesse MacBeth, who was widely hailed by some in the media for his stories that he had participated in atrocities in Iraq, that he had won a Purple Heart, telling great stories about the nasty things that American troops were doing to Iraqis as you pointed out earlier, were completely false. Not only had he never set foot in Iraq, he was sent out of the military after 44 days of service, he hadn't even completed basic training. So he didn't get very far in the military, and then went on to tell great lies about his service. So he was one of the people that was at issue, and did come up in that broadcast, though the exchange that Rush had with that other soldier was about those who come out in favor of withdrawal who have not actually served in the military, or who have not actually served in Iraq. So, you know, this gets very confused, and I think what you have here, E.D., is a lot of Democrats who would not vote to condemn the MoveOn.org ad that called General Petraeus "General Betray Us" are now -- have found religion on this issue and are going after Rush Limbaugh for having an exchange with a soldier in which he simply says the two words, "phony soldiers," in response to something an Iraqi veteran had to say.
HILL: It sounds like there's a whiff of hypocrisy there in Washington. Now, the reason this is so serious -- because, you know, frankly it is a radio commentator, although a very popular one heard by millions and millions of people - but the reason this is so serious -- the Jesse MacBeth claims --is that his comments about the atrocities that he claimed he had personally taken part in and the horrible things he , accused U.S. service members of doing were then translated into Arabic and spread throughout the Middle East. And that certainly works against everything that is in America's best interest.
ANGLE: Well, absolutely true, and you remember the old saying: A lie is halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on. This is a problem. When someone says something completely outrageous, it will be widely hailed as some revelation and certainly will get a lot of play in the Arab world. And that is exactly what happened in this case.