CNSNews.com hops on the MRC bandwagon of defending Rush Limbaugh. The lead of an Oct. 2 CNS article by Nathan Burchfiel and Fred Lucas states:
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is under fire from liberal media critics and some Democrats in Congress for using the term "phony soldiers" to describe Jesse Macbeth, who was sentenced to five months in prison for falsifying his military records.
It's presented as if there is no question whatsoever about whom Limbaugh was referring with the term "phony soldiers" -- which there is. While Burchfiel and Lucas note that "Media Matters claims that Limbaugh used the 'phony soldiers' term to describe all soldiers who have spoken out against the war," they never explain the nature of the controversy. Rather, they go on to note: "Limbaugh has explained on his talk-radio show that the "phony soldiers" comment was taken out of context and that he was referring specifically to Macbeth and others like him."
In fact, nearly two minutes elapsed between Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment -- made in response to a caller talking about those opposing the Iraq war who "like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media" -- and his first mention of MacBeth. In fact, Limbaugh never explicitly linked his "phony soldiers" comment to MacBeth at the time he said it, doing so only after the fact, while defending himself against the outcry caused by his statement.
In other words, it's unclear at best who exactly Limbaugh was "phony soldiers" at the time he said it, and any declaration that the only possible interpretation of the remark is that it referred to soldiers who told fake stories -- as Lucas and Burchfiel have done here -- is just after-the-fact spin.
Another Oct. 2 CNS article, by Susan Jones, comes closer to the truth, stating: "Limbaugh has devoted considerable air time to explaining that his 'phony soldiers' comment was not intende[d] to impugn troops who oppose the war, as Democrats say it was. Limbaugh says he was referring to a specific 'phony soldier' who was sentenced to five months in prison for falsifying his military records." By noting what Limbaugh said he "intende[d]" to say, Jones acknowledges there is a question of interpretation, which Burchfiel and Lucas do not.