On June 18, radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that he "talked to Senator Ted Stevens" (R-AK) on June 17 and got his name removed from Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) amendment to the Defense bill to promote fairness and balance on taxpayer-funded American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), but Harkin's amendment did not mention Limbaugh in the first place.
Limbaugh further claimed that Stevens, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, faxed Limbaugh a copy of a "new amendment" for his approval. And Limbaugh repeated his false claim that the Harkin amendment -- which sought balance, not Limbaugh's removal from AFRTS -- amounted to "censorship."
Limbaugh appeared to refer to Media Matters for America as "a bunch of numbskulls that are extensions of the Democratic Party" and bragged, "I am really screwing with these people and I love it."
From the June 18 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: The Harkin amendment, I talked to Senator Ted Stevens, folks, after the program yesterday. I called him and because Ted Stevens is the senator from Alaska.
He [Stevens] sent me a fax today with a revised amendment. They've gone in and they fixed the amendment. They -- they've watered this thing down. Whatever the Harkin amendment was, it now doesn't mention my name.
LIMBAUGH: So, they -- they won't -- they -- they did -- Stevens did something yesterday to revise this and he sent me the -- well, the -- the -- the -- the new amendment and he said, "Is this OK?" He said, "Do you have any objections to this?" [laughter] And I -- I looked at it and said, "Am I allowed?" [laughter] "Am I allowed to object to an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill when I'm not a senator?" I mean, I can as a -- as a citizen, obviously, but, I mean, any citizen could object. Doesn't matter.
LIMBAUGH: Now, we're not through with this because there's still a chance to get this -- this whole thing taken out over on the House side. And I think -- I -- I do not withdraw from the position that I -- that I said yesterday. This is unprecedented for a United States senator to single out a single citizen in a Defense appropriation bill -- a major, major piece of legislation -- a United States senator singles out a single citizen, me, as representing harm, as spreading propaganda, as damaging the morale of the troops.
Now that's censorship. That is attempted censorship -- not what happens to other people in the private sector. That may be bad enough, but it's not censorship. This, when a United States senator, reacting to a bunch of numbskulls that are extensions of the Democratic Party, can simply add an amendment based on a single citizen. Why, I mean -- I mean, on the one hand, folks, it's astounding. It's -- it's unbelievable. On -- on the other hand, I'm going -- heh -- "I am really screwing with these people and I love it. Now this is cool." [laughter]
Although Harkin, in his statement in the Congressional Record, did state that Limbaugh's comments "do damage to the American image when they are heard around the world," neither the amendment Harkin proposed on June 7 nor the modified amendment, which was agreed to in the Senate by unanimous consent on June 14, mentioned Limbaugh by name.