While syndicated columnist and CNN host Robert Novak has corrected his earlier misquotation of Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, originally identified by Media Matters for America, syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, who played an audio clip of Novak's misquotation on his show, has yet to issue a correction to his listeners.
During the March 1 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh aired Novak's misquote, in which Novak falsely claimed that during an appearance at Cornell University, Dean said that Social Security is "going to lose about 80 percent of the benefits" over time. "Here's Howard Dean up there admitting to students at Cornell it's a big problem," Limbaugh proclaimed.
On the March 4 edition of CNN's Inside Politics, Novak corrected his earlier misquotation of Dean, although he did qualify that correction by claiming that Dean "still said there is a problem on Social Security, which is not the party line." In fact, Democrats have readily acknowledged the long-term revenue shortfall facing Social Security, as Media Matters has noted. Most Democrats simply oppose the Bush administration's plan to divert payroll taxes for Social Security into private accounts, which even the Bush administration has admitted would do nothing to address the long-term solvency issue.
Novak originally claimed on the February 26 edition of CNN's The Capital Gang that Dean had said that "over the years, 80 percent of the Social Security benefits will be lost." Novak repeated his misquotation on the February 28 edition of Inside Politics. In fact, as The Cornell Daily Sun reported in its coverage of Dean's February 23 speech at the university, Dean stated that "if Social Security were left alone for 30 years, benefits would be reduced to 80 percent of what it is now." During the March 1 edition of Inside Politics, CNN host Judy Woodruff issued a correction on Novak's behalf. Novak also corrected himself on the March 5 edition of The Capital Gang.
From the March 4 edition of CNN's Inside Politics:
NOVAK: Yes, on Monday, I said -- I misspoke myself. I said that the new Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean had said in a speech at Cornell University that the Social Security fund in 30 years would be 80 -- would lose 80 percent of its value. What I meant to say, and what I should have said, is what he said that, that it would, after 30 years, it would be 80 percent of its present value, so it would lose only 20 percent. But he still said there is a problem on Social Security, which is not the party line.
On the morning of March 1, the Republican National Committee posted Novak's misquotation of Dean on its official website (it has since been removed). The conservative lobbying group Club for Growth then posted a transcript and video of Novak's misquote on its pro-privatization weblog, Social Security Choice. The blog later posted a correction, which also echoed Novak's erroneous defense: "This is what Novak's point was. The Democratic line is that there is no problem. Dean says there is."