When Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves to deliver a fact-free defense of the Lord's Resistance Army, he left numerous angry listeners with the impression that President Obama had sent troops to "kill Christians in Africa."
Last week, Obama ordered 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help combat the LRA, a violent cult that has engaged in murder, torture, and rape and has kidnapped children and impressed them into military service.
On Friday, Limbaugh added his own spin to a straight-forward ABC News report on the matter. Limbaugh declared, "Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians." According to Limbaugh, "Lord's Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them." Limbaugh added, "So that's a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda. ... Now, are we gonna help the Egyptians wipe out the Christians? Wouldn't you say that we are? I mean the Coptic Christians are being wiped out."
Several minutes after Limbaugh's rant began, conservatives on Twitter began to echo his claims. A few examples:
- "#Obama sending troops to kill christians in africa!"
- "Shorter Obama: Troops will be in Uganda until the Christians are dead or converted."
- "Rush; from @jaketapper Obama sending troops to kill Christians protecting themselves from Muslim genocide in Sudan"
- "Obama sends our troops to kill Christian militia in Uganda in support of murderous Muslim tyrannical regime, also killing Egypt Christians"
- "#Rush Obama sends 100 US troops to take out Lords Resistance Army (Christians) in Uganda fighting agst muslims."
Some Limbaugh listeners even appear to have contacted Congress to protest Obama's supposed assault on African Christianity. A congressional staffer, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the record, told Media Matters that his office received an email and a phone call from constituents who "claimed that it was an attack on Christians and said Obama was supporting [an] Islamic regime."
Conservative blogger Melissa Clouthier tweeted about the LRA story during Limbaugh's Friday broadcast, asking, "Do I understand this correctly? President Obama is sending US troops to fight Christians in Africa?" When other conservatives -- including CNN's Erick Erickson -- corrected her, Clouthier explained that she had "heard an out of context snippet on the radio about troops in Africa." Today, Clouthier confirmed that she had, in fact, learned about the LRA story from Limbaugh's show.
On Sunday night, an exasperated Erickson wrote that he'd received "lots of emails" defending the LRA.
"The President Is Not Going to Africa To Kill Christians," wrote Erickson. He added: "In the past 72 hours, I have gotten lots of emails from lots of people who should know better asking me if I've heard about Barack Obama sending American troops to Africa to go after the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The people hearing the name assume it is a Christian group fighting radical Islamists in the Sudan or some such. It is no such thing."
None of this seems to bother Limbaugh. Despite promising on Friday to do "our due diligence research" into the allegations against the LRA, he didn't even mention the story on today's show.
Justin Berrier and Oliver Willis contributed reporting to this story.