Rush Limbaugh, discussing Sen. Harry Reid's floor speech criticizing Limbaugh's September 26 comments characterizing service members who support U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers," asserted that Reid "didn't mention VoteVets.org. They never hold press conferences with them." Limbaugh continued: "I never see Dingy Harry with members of VoteVets.org standing with him on the podium. Why is that? ... The reason Dingy Harry and the rest of the Democrats do not show publicly with members of VoteVets.org is because they don't know -- they don't want you to know -- the intricate degree of coordination between these anti-war groups and elected Democrats in the House and the Senate. And that's why they never cite them." In fact, Reid has appeared with VoteVets representatives at press conferences, and Democrats have issued press releases citing VoteVets.
On October 4, Rush Limbaugh asserted that he "didn't call" wounded Iraq veteran Brian McGough "a suicide bomber" on his October 2 show and said he was "grateful" for McGough's service. Limbaugh said on October 2: "[T]his is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into."
Responding to criticism of his "phony soldiers" comments, Rush Limbaugh again asserted that he had been referring to multiple military imposters -- including Jesse MacBeth -- rather than service members or former service members with whom he disagrees. Limbaugh described MacBeth as "the man I was referring to and others like him as 'phony soldiers.' " But immediately after the controversy erupted over his comments, Limbaugh twice claimed that he was "talking about one soldier with that 'phony soldier' comment, Jesse MacBeth."
Purporting to "give you some background on this quickly," Fox News' Megyn Kelly said of Rush Limbaugh's comments characterizing service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers": "Rush originally used this term 'phony soldiers' when he was talking about a guy named Jesse MacBeth." In fact, when Limbaugh first used the term on the September 26 show, he had not mentioned MacBeth, and did not mention MacBeth until 1 minute and 50 seconds after he used the phrase "phony soldiers."
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh defended his statement characterizing service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" and expanded the group of "phony soldiers" to include Vietnam veteran Rep. John P. Murtha.
Rush Limbaugh insisted that his September 26 remarks characterizing U.S. service members who support withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" had been taken out of context and that he was referring specifically to "one genuine, convicted, lying, fake soldier," Jesse MacBeth. But Limbaugh did not refer to MacBeth during his September 26 broadcast until 1 minute, 50 seconds after making his "phony soldiers" comment, and at no point on that show prior to making his "phony soldiers" comment did Limbaugh refer to any actual fake soldiers. Additionally, on September 28, Limbaugh misrepresented those comments.
In response to Media Matters' documentation of his recent description of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers," Rush Limbaugh claimed that he had not been talking "about the anti-war movement generally," but rather "about one soldier ... Jesse MacBeth." Limbaugh then purported to air the "entire" segment in question. In fact, the clip he aired omitted a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original "phony soldiers" comment and his subsequent reference to MacBeth.
Rush Limbaugh's characterization of service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as "phony soldiers" was not the first time that he has labeled a military service member a "phony." On his June 27 radio show, Limbaugh said of Sen. John Kerry, whose Vietnam record was the subject of a smear campaign by the discredited Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth: "The guy's a fraud! He's a total phony, and people were able to see it!"