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 the October 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, discussing Rush Limbaugh's recent comments characterizing service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as “phony soldiers,” co-anchor Megyn Kelly -- purporting to “give you some background on this quickly” -- reported: “Rush originally used this term 'phony soldiers' when he was talking about a guy named Jesse MacBeth ... Limbaugh was making the point that this guy was basically a 'phony soldier,' and he was trying to say that sometimes people on the left use 'phony soldiers' like this to make their points.” But contrary to Kelly's assertion that “Rush originally used this term 'phony soldiers' when he was talking about” MacBeth on the September 26 show, he did not mention MacBeth until 1 minute and 50 seconds after he used the phrase “phony soldiers.”
As Media Matters for America has documented, during the September 28 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh claimed that he had not been talking “about the anti-war movement generally,” but rather “about one soldier ... Jesse MacBeth.” Limbaugh further asserted that "Media Matters had the transcript, but they selectively choose what they want to make their point." To support this claim, Limbaugh purported to air the “entire” segment in question from the September 26 broadcast of his show. In fact, the clip he then aired had been spliced: Excised from the clip was a full 1 minute and 35 seconds of the 1 minute and 50 second discussion that occurred between Limbaugh's original “phony soldiers” comment and his reference to MacBeth, the full audio of which can be heard here.
Kelly's assertion that “Rush originally used this term, 'phony soldiers' when he was talking about a guy named Jesse MacBeth” echoed Limbaugh's assertion on his September 28 broadcast that he was “talking about one soldier with that 'phony soldier' comment, Jesse MacBeth.” But as the transcript makes clear, and Media Matters has noted, Limbaugh actually referred to “phony soldiers,” plural. Responding to the caller's statement that supporters of withdrawal “like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media,” Limbaugh responded, “The phony soldiers” [emphasis added].
Further, as Media Matters documented, on his September 28 broadcast, Limbaugh expanded the group of “phony soldiers” to include Vietnam veteran Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) and Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who is currently serving in Iraq. In asserting that he was originally “talking about a genuine phony soldier,” Limbaugh went on to state: “And by the way, Jesse MacBeth's not the only one. How about this guy Scott Thomas who was writing fraudulent, phony things in The New Republic about atrocities he saw that never happened? How about Jack Murtha blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?” According to Murtha's biography on his congressional website, Murtha joined the Marines in 1952 and volunteered for service in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
From the October 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
KELLY: Well, new developments now with the hottest story this hour, the left attacking Rush Limbaugh for his comments on anti-war soldiers. We went back to his Wednesday radio show and pulled this. Take a listen:
[begin audio clip]
CALLER 2: What's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.
LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
[end audio clip]
KELLY: All right, so that was a caller, obviously, calling in. And now Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV], are demanding an apology from Limbaugh. Rush says if anyone needs to apologize to our military, it is Harry Reid. Now, let me just give you some background on this quickly. Rush originally used this term, “phony soldiers,” when he was talking about a guy named Jesse MacBeth. Jesse MacBeth never served in Iraq, says Rush. He claimed to have a Purple Heart; he didn't. This guy was propped up by the left, because he opposes the Iraq war, as some sort of hero, as a talking-points guy, this Jesse MacBeth was, and Rush Limbaugh was making the point that this guy was basically a “phony soldier,” and he was trying to say that sometimes people on the left use “phony soldiers” like this to make their points. But now, it has turned into this huge controversy, because Media Matters -- you remember this group, they attack O'Reilly all the time -- now they say Rush is referring to all soldiers who criticize the Iraq war as “phony soldiers.” It's led to the United States Senate getting involved, and Kelly Wright's got more on that from Washington.