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Saturday, September 29, 2007
MRC Obscures Full Limbaugh Story, Ignores Own History On Giving Benefit of the Doubt
Topic: Media Research Center

In a Sept. 28 NewsBusters post, Brent Baker defended Rush Limbaugh against the "misinformation" promoted "by the far-left Media Matters" that "Rush Limbaugh, on Thursday, had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war 'phony soldiers.'" (Like previous MRC defenders of Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly against my meanie employer, Baker relied in part on overheated posts by Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney, yet again repeating Maloney's false assertion that Media Matters is "George Soros-funded.") But Baker glosses over the holes in Limbaugh's defense. Baker writes:

On his September 27 radio program, a caller asserted that the media “never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.” Limbaugh interjected: “The phony soldiers.” After the call, Limbaugh proceeded to recount:

Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse MacBeth. 

But -- as Media Matters pointed out when Limbaugh tried to pass off a selectively edited piece of audio of incident as the "entire" segment -- Limbaugh didn't do this "after the call." There was at least a minute and a half gap between Limbaugh's "phony soliders" comment and his first mention of MacBeth, the only "phony soldier" he mentioned by name during the entire show.

Baker then demanded that Limbaugh be given the benefit of the doubt: 

At worst, who Limbaugh meant by “phony soldiers” was unclear and so any story should, at the very least, include Limbaugh's explanation and not just presume the hostile spin from a far-left group is a newsworthy take that cannot be contradicted in multi-minute segments with plenty of time to better inform viewers. 

What is the MRC's record in similar cases? As we've documented, the most notorious case of the MRC acting worse than it accuses Media Matters of doing is its insistence in a 2005 article that when Democratic strategist Paul Begala said " They want to kill us, particularly in this city, and New York, and some other places," "they" meant Republicans, not Islamic terrorists. When Begala protested that his words were misinterpreted, then-CNS editor David Thibault called Begala a liar: "There was nothing unclear about what Begala said, and he, as a pundit, should know that words matter. We quoted him accurately." When that argument became too untenable to sustain, Thibault resorted to attacking "Begala's unmistakable and outrageous coupling of terrorists and Republicans."

Begala got no benefit of the doubt from the MRC over an "unclear" statement. Why should it demand that Limbaugh get a pass?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:52 AM EDT

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