Limbaugh read note from his "mistress in Georgia" (aka CNN's Daryn Kagan?): Bush's speech was "great," "sounds like you giving this speech"

Video ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

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On the October 6 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh read a "note" that, he said, came from his "mistress in Georgia," an apparent reference to CNN anchor Daryn Kagan. According to Limbaugh, his "mistress" said of President Bush's October 6 speech on the war on terror, "This is great. This sounds like you wrote this speech. This sounds like you giving this speech." Limbaugh said he agreed: "And I was going, 'Rah, rah. That's exactly right.' "

In his September 3, 2004, "Reliable Source" column in The Washington Post, Richard Leiby reported that a spokesman for Limbaugh confirmed that he "is dating CNN anchor Daryn Kagan." And a February 21 article in People magazine noted that "Kagan's romance with ... Limbaugh is getting serious." Kagan, who is based at CNN's headquarters in Atlanta, is the anchor of CNN Live Today, a news show that airs weekdays from 10 a.m .to noon ET and that carried Bush's speech live.

Shortly after Bush concluded his speech, Kagan introduced CNN national security correspondent David Ensor, whom she called "our CNN fact-checker." While noting that Bush "had promised some unprecedented details," which, she suggested, he did not provide, she then made a statement in Bush's defense when Ensor suggested that reporters would be looking for corroboration of Bush's assertion that "the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious Al Qaeda terrorist plots since September 11th, including three Al Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States":

KAGAN: We've been listening to President Bush as he speaks in the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater, speaking to the National Endowment for Democracy, refocusing the nation's attentions on the war on terror and the situation on Iraq. The president and the White House had promised some unprecedented details in that speech. A lot of rallying the troops and supporters. I don't know how many facts there were. We're going to get to that in just a moment, but the president saying things like, "Now we will see freedom's victory. We will confront mortal danger to all humanity." He said Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

We have brought David Ensor on board to be our CNN fact-checker, and we're looking for some specific facts.

[...]

ENSOR: Now, the president is talking about successful disruption of attempts to attack around the world and in the United States in greater numbers than are known about publicly. So it will be interesting to see, Daryn, whether any of the officials in the administration are willing to fill in the details there and tell us about 10 successful disruptions of Al Qaeda attacks, including three in the United States -- Daryn.

KAGAN: But, David, in some ways it's hard to prove a negative of something that hasn't happened. It is true we have not seen a major terrorist attack in the United States since 9-11, and don't you, indeed, have to count that as a victory, as something that Americans can look to as success?

Kagan then moderated a discussion between CNN political contributors Paul Begala and Bay Buchanan that included the following exchange:

BEGALA: Well, I thought that the tone was interesting. There he was in the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater. And yet, there wasn't the same Reagan-esque, sunny optimism that President Reagan always gave us in the Cold War, where, again, we were facing implacable foes, great ideological struggle.

KAGAN: Well, Paul, he wasn't coming here to promise us a rose garden. He was coming here to give us an update in the war on terror.

Kagan was at times also critical of the speech, reiterating with Buchanan at one point that the speech was short on details: "Bay, let's go ahead and bring you in. There was a promise from the White House that we were going to hear unprecedented details in this speech. I don't know that we heard that."

From the October 6 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Right on, right on, right on. Now what this bite that you just heard is -- he didn't say it, but this is a refutation of every point that the left makes: "Hey, we just need to talk to these men. Hey, you know, we can appease them, we can talk. We caused this. Our actions as Americans -- we caused this. We deserved this to happen." Everything that you're hearing on the left, all the looniness from the left, he dealt with in this one bite.

In fact, I got a note from my mistress in Georgia this morning, who was watching the speech. She said, "This is great. This sounds like you wrote this speech. This sounds like you giving this speech."

And I was going, "Rah, rah. That's exactly right."

From the October 6 broadcast of CNN's Live Today:

KAGAN: I want to go ahead and take a closer look at President Bush's speech from two sharply contrasting viewpoints. And for that, I welcome in Paul Begala, a former member of the Clinton administration. He is now a CNN political contributor, also sharing the title of CNN contributor, Bay Buchanan, a conservative strategist. Good morning and welcome to both of you.

BEGALA: Good morning, Daryn.

BUCHANAN: Thank you, Daryn.

KAGAN: Paul, I'm going to go ahead and start with you. We also heard from the president, as he said, "No act of ours has incited terrorists." He's addressing the idea of those who believe that what has taken place in Iraq and the U.S. presence in Iraq has actually led to more violence. He says that is not true. He points out that 9-11 happened before the U.S. was ever in Iraq, and he says appeasement will not work. What did you think of the president's speech?

BEGALA: Well, I thought that the tone was interesting. There he was in the Ronald Reagan Amphitheater. And yet, there wasn't the same Reagan-esque, sunny optimism that President Reagan always gave us in the Cold War, where, again, we were facing implacable foes, great ideological struggle.

KAGAN: Well, Paul, he wasn't coming here to promise us a rose garden. He was coming here to give us an update in the war on terror.

BEGALA: Right. And this is an important shift in tone. The president, for years now, has -- before the war, supporters said it would be a cakewalk; others said that we'd be greeted as liberators. Vice President Cheney said that. The president himself gave that famous speech with the banner "Mission Accomplished" behind him. This is not that tone.

This is an important shift in tone for the president. Frankly, it's one that I welcome. But it's an important one. There were not very many facts in there. And David Ensor, of course, got right to the news, and I'd like to know a whole lot more about the attacks that the president says that we have disrupted. I think it's terrific news for Americans.

But I don't know that this will stop the slide in support that's going on in the war for Iraq. I mean, that's an awfully tall order to ask of just one speech, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time at that. But I think the audience sounded a lot more --

KAGAN: Don't go knocking my time slot, Paul. Don't go knocking my time slot.

BEGALA: No, I love your time slot. But it's interesting. I think that perhaps the audience was more the Muslim world than U.S. public opinion. I think that -- I know the president's very close aide, Karen Hughes, who's now at the State Department, has just come back from a tour of the Muslim world. And I see her fine hand in this. I think that the speech may have been more directly aimed at Muslim popular opinion than American popular opinion.

KAGAN: Well, and one of the points the president made, that most of the victims in Iraq have been Iraqi civilians.

Bay, let's go ahead and bring you in. There was a promise from the White House that we were going to hear unprecedented details in this speech. I don't know that we heard that. Also a demand early on from congressional Democrats saying we want an outline, we want specifics about where we go from here. It's not enough to say we're going stay the course.

BUCHANAN: You know, I think what the president did was outstanding. First of all, it was a very strong speech, and he was extremely confident. He came across as the commander in chief. He understands this problem. He's laying it out for us. And I'll tell you what he did that I thought was extremely effective. He gave a face to this enemy. You know, up to now, it's war on terrorists, we're after terrorists. And now he actually called it, it was radical Islam. It is a global problem. He gave ideas of what their methods are, how they recruit, what their goals were. And he tied Iraq into it. The goal that would be a base for them, then they would spread out from there.

I think what he did -- then he tied the communism into it, which is something tangible Americans can understand, know that it was a tough battle but that we won it, showing some real hope there. I think it was extremely effective. I disagree with Paul. I think this is possibly a turning point, where at least American people will start saying, yes, this, is something we can win, we need to win, but it is going to be a tough battle. And I think his support will start to rise again.

KAGAN: OK, we have one minute left, so I'm going to give about 20 seconds to each of you. Paul, first of all, do you think this is going to change the numbers? And will Democrats actually come up with a plan as an alternative?

BEGALA: It will not change the numbers, because the numbers are being driven by facts on the ground, not words in the air. The president said -- and I'm quoting here -- he said, 80 Iraqi battalions are quote, "fighting alongside our troops." Well, alongside our troops --

KAGAN: You say it's not going change numbers. I have to give Bay the last 10 seconds, sorry.

BEGALA: No, it won't, because --

KAGAN: OK, Bay, are they going to change -- is it going to change numbers, this speech?

BUCHANAN: As I said, I think it will start -- I think people will start looking more positively, and I think the president's going to have to stay at it. But I think this is a heck of a good turning point for the president.

KAGAN: And I'm going to make that the last word. Paul and Bay, thank you.

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