Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rush v Media Matters: Much ado about very little

... but not quite nothing.

The folks at Media Matters love to listen to the Rush Limbaugh program more intently than any of Rush's own listeners. They've found a short exchange with a caller in which Limbaugh refers to "phony soldiers" who criticize the Iraq war.

Here I have truncated the quote Media Matters is bothered by. It begins with Rush, mid-phone call and mid-rant:

[beginning with Rush] "[I]t's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people." "Mike" from Olympia replied, "No, it's not, 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 interjected, "The phony soldiers." The caller, who had earlier said, "I am a serving American military, in the Army," agreed, replying, "The phony soldiers."

Media Matters claims Limbaugh's language suggests that all soldiers who question the war are "phony". Honestly, it sounds bad.

The chronology, best I can put together, is something like this:

In the "Morning Update" (a stand-alone segment that is run as a teaser several hours before the program), Limbaugh commented about a specific person, Jesse MacBeth, who despite washing out of boot camp and never setting foot in Iraq, professed to be a Purple Heart Iraq vet who was opposed to the war. Of course, MacBeth found plenty of favorable media coverage until he was discovered, as have numerous other "phony soldiers" around the country. Such frauds have been reported by other more mainstream journalists and commentators.

Several hours later, the above exchange occurs without any context whatsoever. Less than two minutes after this exchange Limbaugh reminds his audience about the Morning Update segment.

Perhaps some subconscious part of Rush's mind knew that the audience needed some context for this questionable remark. However, since Media Matters and the Dem establishment made this mountain out of a molehill Rush has gone into full denial mode.

Rush - your comments were indeed taken out of context, but they also lacked sufficient context to make them unambiguous, which is why you instinctively gave the audience the back-story... after the fact.

(Notice, however, that the caller is the one who first refers to "real" soldiers.)

The Democrats, on the other hand, would have us believe that this short, improvised remark, is somehow the conservative equivalent to the very deliberate "General Betray Us" advertisement, for which they could muster no outrage. They would have us believe that Rush really thinks all dissenters who served honorably are "phony". The evidence does not support this case. The Dems are further diminished when one of their own Senators who is criticizing Limbaugh has himself padded his military resume.

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