Rush Limbaugh helped Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accuse Democrats of bugging his Kentucky campaign headquarters, despite a report by NBC's Chuck Todd that a sweep of McConnell's campaign office found no evidence of a bug.
On April 9, Mother Jones released a recording of a meeting between McConnell and campaign aides that Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn said was provided by an anonymous source. The recording exposed McConnell and his aides discussing how they could smear actress Ashley Judd if she decided to make a bid against McConnell by using her past struggles with depression and views on religion as lines of attack.
Following allegations by McConnell that his campaign headquarters was wiretapped by the "political left," the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was looking into how the recording was obtained. Fox News, however, embraced McConnell's baseless allegation, downplaying the audio while accusing Democrats of obtaining the recording by "bugging."
Limbaugh joined others in the right-wing media by adopting the "bugging" line during the April 10 edition of his radio show, comparing the incident to Watergate and accusing McConnell's opponents of committing a crime:
But according to an April 9 report on NBC's Nightly News by Chuck Todd, a sweep of McConnell's campaign office by a security firm found no evidence of a bug:
TODD: McConnell believes he was the victim of a bugging operation masterminded by political opponents. But late yesterday the McConnell campaign hired a security firm to sweep that Louisville campaign office for recording devices, and, guess what, found nothing.
Moreover, it is legal in Kentucky to record a private conversation if at least one party to that conversation consents. Therefore, as Media Matters previously noted, right-wing media can only claim that the recording was obtained illegally by portraying McConnell's conversation as "bugged."
In a follow-up statement to its original story, Mother Jones said that it did not make the tape and that "[i]t is our understanding that the tape was not the product of a Watergate-style bugging operation."