Limbaugh on wounded Iraq vet: "I didn't call this guy a suicide bomber"

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN, ANDREW WALZER & MATT GERTZ

On October 4, Rush Limbaugh asserted that he "didn't call" wounded Iraq veteran Brian McGough "a suicide bomber" on his October 2 show and said he was "grateful" for McGough's service. Limbaugh said on October 2: "[T]his is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into."

On the October 4 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh asserted that he "didn't call" wounded Iraq veteran Brian McGough "a suicide bomber" on his October 2 show and said he was "grateful" for McGough's service. McGough appeared in an ad released by VoteVets denouncing Limbaugh's September 26 characterization of service members who support troop withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers." In the ad, McGough says to Limbaugh, "Until you have the guts to call me a 'phony soldier' to my face, stop telling lies about my service." As Media Matters for America documented, Limbaugh said on October 2: "[T]his is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into."

From Limbaugh's October 2 radio show:

LIMBAUGH: VoteVets.org has -- they describe themselves as an organization comprised of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns who oppose current policy in Iraq. They've put together a TV ad that takes aim at me. This ad's going to run on Fox News, on CNN, it's going to run on WMAL radio in Washington, $60,000 ad buy that's going to run, I think, on our local West Palm Beach station down here. And there's a man identified as Brian McCoff -- McGough -- it's M-C-G-O-U-G-H, I'm not sure how he pronounces it, McGo, McGuff -- I haven't watched the ad.

He discusses his service in Iraq, the wounds he suffered there, and he says to me in this ad, "Until you have the guts to call me a 'phony soldier' to my face, stop telling lies about my service." You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into.

This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him. They're not hurting me, they're betraying this soldier. Now, unless he actually believes what he's saying, in which case it's just so unfortunate and sad when the truth of what I said is right out there to be learned.

After several media outlets noted his comments about McGough, writing that Limbaugh compared McGough to a suicide bomber, Limbaugh revisited those remarks on his October 4 show. After replaying his October 2 comments he said: "I called him a hero. The other reference is to where the drive-by media runs in, blows things up, creates all these messes, and then heads on down the road to create another one. I called him a suicide bomber -- you see how this works. I didn't call anybody who legitimately serves a 'phony soldier.' I didn't call this guy a suicide bomber."

The Los Angeles Times reported on October 4:

Limbaugh responded on air Tuesday, comparing McGough metaphorically to a suicide bomber. He said the ad was "a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into."

Similarly, The New York Times reported October 3:

The advertisement, to be pushed with a modest $60,000 buy, is scheduled to be broadcast Wednesday on national cable news channels, with a radio version in certain markets during Mr. Limbaugh's show. In it, a wounded veteran chastises Mr. Limbaugh. On Tuesday, Mr. Limbaugh compared the veteran to a suicide bomber, saying the advocacy group had strapped "lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into," according to a transcript distributed by Media Matters.

ABCNews.com reported October 3:

Limbaugh publicly denounced the VoteVets.org ad, likening the Iraq War veteran featured in the ad to a suicide bomber.

"This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into," Limbaugh said Tuesday on his radio program.

Limbaugh has said that his "phony soldier" comments were referring only to one soldier recently convicted of lying about his service. The radio talk show host has also attacked Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., a retired Marine colonel and opponent of the Iraq War.

"I was not talking about anti-war, active duty troops," Limbaugh insisted. However the liberal media watchdog organization Media Matters disputed Limbaugh's claim that his "phony soldiers" comment was taken out of context, pointing to the transcript as proof that the reference came two minutes before discussion of the discredited man.

"After referring to troops who disagree with him about Iraq as phony soldiers, he's gone on to compare one of our Purple Heart veterans from the war in Iraq to a suicide bomber," said Karl Frisch, spokesperson for Media Matters. "It's time for him to stop digging the hole and start being accountable."

In an October 3 article, FoxNews.com said:

Limbaugh decried the ad by the group that he linked to MoveOn.org, figuratively saying VoteVets is treating McGough like a suicide bomber.

"This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said and then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him, they aren't hurting me they are betraying this soldier," Limbaugh said.

From the October 4 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Let's go to the audio sound bites, shall we? Let's -- we have a montage of this morning and last night. We have Joe Scarbourough of MSNBC, John Roberts of CNN, Willie Geist, MSNBC, somebody else on MSNBC, and Norah O'Donnell all talking -- you know, this poor guy Brian McGough of VoteVets.org, he's running around saying that I called him a suicide bomber yesterday on this program. And of course, he says it, there's no questioning it, and here's the montage of the drive-bys reacting to it.

Sit tight, Dawn -- Dawn's about to explode in there. She came in today, walked in -- "I am never going to watch or listen to Geraldo again after last night, and I am never" -- Alan Colmes -- just, you know, chill, chill. Everything's under control here. It's going our way. Here's the montage:

[begin audio clip]

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: We're going to hear for the next five days how Rush Limbaugh called this guy a suicide bomber.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN: Limbaugh called this guy a suicide bomber.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC: Metaphor to say he was like a suicide bomber.

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: Comparing that soldier to a suicide bomber.

NORAH O'DONNELL, MSNBC: Essentially comparing him to a suicide bomber.

[end audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: All right, anybody care what I actually said about this? Would you like to hear what I actually said? This was Tuesday on the program, and I was talking about the ad that they are running.

[begin audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him. They're not hurting me, they're betraying this soldier. Now, unless he actually believes what he's saying, in which case it's just so unfortunate and sad when the truth of what I said is right out there to be learned.

[end audio clip]

LIMBAUGH: I called him a hero. I called him a hero. The other reference is to where the drive-by media runs in, blows things up, creates all these messes, and then heads on down the road to create another one. I called him a suicide bomber -- you see how this works. I didn't call anybody who legitimately serves a "phony soldier." I didn't call this guy a suicide bomber. That's out there -- I called him a suicide bomber. [laughter] Here's McGough. He was on MSNBC last night talking about the fact that I called him a suicide bomber.

McGOUGH [audio clip]: My reaction is disgust, how someone can sit in that chair and say that I am a car bomber, or excuse me, a suicide bomber, is disgusting. I've seen the aftereffects of a suicide bomb. I've had friends that were hurt in suicide bombs. It makes me mad down to a place where I can't even think to describe. It's just repugnant.

LIMBAUGH: And -- it's not just repugnant. It's very sad. Brian, let me -- let me try this again. Mr. McGough, I admire you for your service. I admire anyone and everyone who volunteers to serve in the United States military in this country, always have. I'm grateful to you for your service, and that, Brian, is an unqualified thank you, whether or not you support the war, or the surge, President Bush, or not.

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