With hearings on the nomination of White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales for attorney general approaching, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh responded to the increasing focus on Gonzales's role in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal by yet again minimizing the abuse. Limbaugh has repeatedly compared the abuse to "hazing" and "a fraternity prank," and has claimed that the accused soldiers engaged in the mistreatment to "blow off steam."
From the January 3 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: The Abu Ghraib thing was largely something that affected the media more than anybody else. Most of the people in this country realized this is war, and most of what went on over there is not torture, and in many cases what went on to extract information actually ended up saving people's lives.
Limbaugh has previously downplayed, dismissed, and even endorsed the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, as Media Matters for America has extensively documented. Such remarks prompted Media Matters to create an online petition that calls for Limbaugh's removal from the taxpayer-funded American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS); more than 46,000 people have signed the petition. On June 14, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for fairness and balance on AFRTS. Limbaugh is presently the sole politically partisan host featured on the service's talk channel.