Fox News' Bill Hemmer mischaracterized Rush Limbaugh's comment about "phony soldiers," stating on America's Newsroom that "Limbaugh called a soldier a 'phony soldier' after that soldier made up stories about atrocities in Iraq." In fact, Limbaugh characterized as "phony soldiers" -- not the singular "phony soldier," as Hemmer claimed -- service members who support U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
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On the October 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-anchor Bill Hemmer asserted: "Earlier in the month, 41 Democratic senators sent a letter criticizing [conservative radio host] Rush Limbaugh after Limbaugh had called a soldier a 'phony soldier' after that soldier made up a story about atrocities in Iraq." As Media Matters for America documented, on the September 26 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh characterized as "phony soldiers" -- not the singular "phony soldier," as Hemmer claimed -- service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Further, Limbaugh did not mention Jesse MacBeth, who pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the Department of Veterans Affairs for pretending to be an injured Iraq war veteran, on the September 26 show until 1 minute and 50 seconds after making the "phony soldiers" reference.
On his September 28 broadcast, responding to criticism of his comments, Limbaugh claimed that rather than speaking generally of soldiers who support withdrawal from Iraq, he was "talking about one soldier with that 'phony soldier' comment." Later in the program, he asserted, "[E]verybody involved in this knows full well I was talking about one genuine, convicted, lying, fake soldier," referring to MacBeth. But, following Limbaugh's repeated assertion that he had been referring to "one soldier," a caller asked, "But you did say 'soldiers' in plural, though, didn't you?" Limbaugh replied: "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]." Limbaugh repeated this explanation -- inconsistent with his initial assertion that he had been referring to one phony soldier -- during his October 2 broadcast, describing MacBeth as "the man I was referring to and others like him as 'phony soldiers.' " The transcript (subscription required) of the September 28 broadcast that is posted on Limbaugh's website shows him asserting: "I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment, Jesse MacBeth." [italics, bold, and underline in original]
From the October 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
HEMMER: A bit earlier in the month, 41 Democratic senators sent a letter criticizing Rush Limbaugh after Limbaugh had called a soldier a "phony soldier" after that soldier made up a story about atrocities in Iraq. Now Limbaugh says he's putting that letter for sale on eBay and so far the auction is up to 50 grand. Four more days to bid -- they'll do it -- they'll close the window on Friday at one o'clock. Limbaugh says the proceeds will go to a charity benefiting the children of fallen Marines and law enforcement officers. He'll match the money, too, and he's challenging the senators who wrote the letter to do the same thing.