A day after Media Matters for America launched a television ad campaign spotlighting radio host Rush Limbaugh's statements comparing the torture of Iraqi prisoners to a college fraternity prank and people "having a good time," Limbaugh opened his May 14 broadcast by directing listeners to National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne's National Review Online column, which defended Limbaugh against the ad. Limbaugh told listeners that O'Beirne e-mailed him her column the night before and urged "every journalist in America" to read it. Limbaugh was moved by the column and shared his response to O'Beirne with listeners: "I wrote her back -- I said if I could include teardrops in email, I would do it, but I can't." He also posted a link to O'Beirne's column as the lead item on his website.
In her column, O'Beirne wrote, "I had resolved to ignore Media Matters" but explained that she had changed her mind, deciding instead "to take the bait this once because it presents a classic example of [Media Matters President and CEO David] Brock's m.o. in his latest reincarnation." O'Beirne charged Media Matters for America with "manufactured outrage" and echoed Limbaugh's own defense, that Media Matters for America took his remarks out of context, since "before he made the crack about Yale's secret society ... he had repeatedly condemned the MP's behavior."
O'Beirne went on to praise Limbaugh's "unerring sense of the sentiments of America's non-elites" and imputed to Media Matters for America the following motivation for publicizing Limbaugh's remarks: "He's dangerous because he convincingly explains what the Left is up to." O'Beirne ended the piece with a tribute to Limbaugh:
Rush is one of those rare acquaintances who can be defended against an assault challenging his character without ever knowing the "facts." We trust his good judgment, his unerring decency, and his fierce loyalty to the country he loves and to the courageous young Americans who defend her.
David Thibault, managing editor of The Cybercast News Service, the conservative news website founded by L. Brent Bozell III, Founder and President of the Media Research Center, also published an account of the Media Matters for America ad campaign on May 14, mistakenly referring to it as a "radio ad campaign" and linking it to pending legal action against Limbaugh in Palm Beach County, Florida over allegations concerning Limbaugh's prescription drug use. The piece explained that according to Mark Levin, director of the conservative advocacy group Landmark Legal Foundation, "the separate media and legal challenges to Limbaugh are part of a longstanding strategy employed by the political left."
On May 11, Steve Malzberg, radio talk show host and columnist for the right-wing website NewsMax.com defended Limbaugh and assailed his critics during a segment devoted to discussing Limbaugh's remarks on MSNBC's Scarborough Country:
MALZBERG: If there were ever a successful liberal talk show, the equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, maybe you would learn from that if that person were worth misquoting. Right now, there's nobody worth misquoting the way you were misquoting and taking out of context what Rush said.
He made one remark on the first day the pictures were out there and all hell is breaking loose. ... You people want to tear him down so badly, but this is proof that you can't. You consider him so important that this has become the topic of your conversation. This has become your obsession.
Limbaugh's allies are echoing his complaint that Media Matters for America has taken his remarks out of context. Media Matters for America invites readers to view the full context of Limbaugh's remarks. The full transcripts of The Rush Limbaugh Show for May 3-11 are posted on our website.
- American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service