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Appearing on the October 25 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck to discuss conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's accusation that actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, was "exaggerating the effects of the disease" in a recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, ABC News political director Mark Halperin told Beck: "I just need you to know, I'm not doing this segment on my meds, so watch out." Halperin began the interview by saying: "Glenn, first of all, megadittos." "Megadittos" is a term used by Limbaugh's callers and fans to express strong support for Limbaugh and agreement with his views.
As Media Matters for America noted, on his October 23 broadcast, Limbaugh declared Fox's physical appearance in the ad, in which Fox endorses McCaskill because of her support for embryonic stem cell research, was "purely an act" and stated that "[t]his is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has." Limbaugh added that "this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two." On his October 24 broadcast, Limbaugh said the ad is part of "a script that they [Democrats] have written for years" in which "Senate Democrats used to parade victims of various diseases or social concerns or poverty up before congressional committees and let them testify and they were infallible."
In the segment preceding his interview with Halperin, Beck repeated the false claim that "Limbaugh almost immediately apologized for those comments" and that he did so "before there was a firestorm." In fact, as Media Matters documented, while Limbaugh stated on October 23 that "I will apologize to Michael J. Fox if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act," Limbaugh not only did not apologize, he defended his comments on his show the next day. Pointing to Fox's statement in his book, Lucky Man: A Memoir (Hyperion, April 2002), that he testified before Congress in 1999 "without medication," Limbaugh declared on his October 24 show that "all I said yesterday was: 'He's either acting or he's off his meds.' I was right. He was off his meds." Beck added that "much to the chagrin of Democrats, however, Rush didn't just say he's faking it. There was an 'or' in that sentence, and sometimes context matters."
From the October 25 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: All right, earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh said that actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, was "either off his medication or acting" in a campaign ad for Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill.
Limbaugh almost immediately apologized for those comments, but what a surprise, he still came under attack.
BECK: Like Michael J. Fox, I -- I mean, you know what? I think Michael J. Fox is a really nice guy. He's funny. And I hope that we can find a cure for Parkinson's. This is a horrible disease, and it is ripping him apart. Now, much to the chagrin of Democrats, however, Rush didn't just say, "He's faking it!" There was an "or" in that sentence, and sometimes context matters.
It was wrong of Rush Limbaugh to accuse Michael J. Fox of acting. It was shocking for even me to hear, and I'm a Rush fan. But he apologized before there was a firestorm.
But it's also wrong for Democrats to imply that Republicans don't want to cure diseases. Who's the bigger monster here? The person who wishes Michael J. Fox well, but asks if he took his medication during a campaign ad, or the person who says, "Don't vote for Republicans because they want Michael J. Fox to always be that way"?
BECK: Mark Halperin, he's the ABC News political director. He's the author of Way to Win.
Mark, light at the end of the tunnel?
HALPERIN: Glenn, first of all, megadittos. And I just need you to know, I'm not doing this segment on my meds, so watch out.
BECK: Well, OK. Look out.
HALPERIN: Anything can happen.
BECK: You're cutting loose.