Rush Limbaugh is under increasing pressure as advertisers continue to flee his radio show after he launched misogynistic attacks against a Georgetown law student. The comments come after a long career filled with offensive rhetoric.
While a steady stream of toxic vitriol has defined Limbaugh's show over the years, his advertisers have also sponsored Limbaugh's habitual dishonesty.
In his 1996 book, Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken explained Limbaugh's penchant for prevarication:
Rush lies about a lot of stuff. Some of the lies I don't really hold against him. These are the ones where he's been on the air for an hour or so, and he's really on a roll. He's hunkered down in the booth ... and he's just ranting like there's no tomorrow. He's so far in the zone that he's left objective reality behind and entered this parallel universe where things are true because Rush wants them to be - where the Way Things Ought to Be is the way things are, even if they aren't.
The second category of dissembling that Franken identified concerned Limbaugh's use of “the rational, carefully constructed, deliberate lies of a man running a giant propaganda factory.”
Here are just a few examples of the extraordinarily dishonest statements Limbaugh has made in recent years.
In August 2010, Limbaugh mendaciously warned:
The Democrats have just passed, and Obama has just signed, a financial bill that imposes quotas on financial institutions -- racial quotas, gender quotas.
Limbaugh was referring to financial regulatory reform legislation. The bill did not, in fact, impose racial and gender quotas on financial institutions.
In March 2009, Limbaugh claimed:
Remember way back in the fall, not one Republican voted for the TARP bailout?
In reality, 125 congressional Republicans voted for the legislation that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008.
Discussing health care reform legislation in March 2011, Limbaugh complained:
There were no hearings.
This statement was shockingly dishonest. By the time the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Congress had held a total of 179 hearings on health care reform.
In fact, Limbaugh was a fountain of overflowing dishonesty during the health care reform debate, perhaps best illustrated by his role pushing the “death panels” falsehood. In February 2010 -- a month before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law -- Limbaugh warned:
If you think that there aren't death panels -- think again.
Again, there were no actual death panels -- ever -- in the health care reform bills.
Limbaugh couldn't even be honest about whether he pushed the death panel lie. In August 2009, he claimed:
I have not used the word 'death panels' except in quoting Sarah Palin.
It was only days earlier when -- using his own words -- Limbaugh cited a “story in Oregon” that he said “illustrates that they are death panels.”
In October 2009, Limbaugh fabricated a provision in health care reform legislation and claimed:
In 2013, there is no private insurance allowed. The sale of it will be prohibited.
This was pernicious sophistry. Health care reform did not ban the sale of private health insurance.
In November 2010, Limbaugh claimed that Democratic senators proposed:
to force America to stop putting their retirement savings money into private 401(k) accounts and send the money to the government instead.
No such legislation outlawing 401(k) plans existed.
In May 2010, Limbaugh discussed Labor Department estimates that the economy added jobs the previous month and falsely said:
In the AP story, “jobs up 290,000.” In the private sector, the real number is 66,000, not 290.
In fact, private sector employment grew by 231,000 jobs in April 2010 -- it was temporary Census workers who accounted for 66,000 new jobs.
In April 2010, Limbaugh discussed the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and said:
The problem here is that Obama didn't jump on this ASAP. He waited eight days, folks. There is no excuse for this. None.
In fact, Obama immediately directed federal officials to respond to the crisis.
In January 2009, Limbaugh discussed comments about fiscal stimulus made by Robert Reich, an economic advisor to Obama's transition team, and dishonestly claimed:
[H]e doesn't want it to go to white construction workers; he wants it to go to inexperienced minorities and single women. He's got nothing against white construction workers but, but, but, but the money needs to go to others.
Wrong. Reich did not propose preventing white construction workers from getting stimulus money.
In May 2010, Limbaugh discussed a law review article written by Justice Elena Kagan, who had just been nominated to the Supreme Court, and said:
This puts her in the Hugo Chavez world, folks. This aligns her with Communist dictators throughout history. The government will determine when speech is proper. She thinks that's OK.
In reality, Kagan explicitly rejected that position in the very article Limbaugh cited, and said that the government “may not restrict speech” it disagrees with.
In June 2010, Limbaugh discussed President Obama's plan to send additional troops to Afghanistan and said:
[Gen. Stanley McChrystal] didn't get the boots on the ground that he asked for.
In fact, McChrystal, who at the time was commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said Obama sent the “right number” of troops.
In August 2008, Limbaugh claimed:
[Vice President Joe Biden] wanted to split Iraq into three different countries by ethnic lines.
False. Biden did not propose splitting Iraq into distinct countries along ethnic lines.
In August 2008, Limbaugh discussed Jerome Corsi's book, The Obama Nation, and said:
It is other people having to come up with the fact that [Obama], numerous times, three times in Illinois voted for legislation that would allow doctors and patients to murder babies who survived abortions and were out of the womb. Radical stuff. Three times he voted for this.
Limbaugh's statement is simply not true. Obama did not vote to allow doctors to kill babies.
In March 2006, Limbaugh discussed Rep. Dennis Kucinich and said:
He wanted to establish a Department of Peace. Get rid of the Department of Defense.
In fact, Kucinich proposed a Department of Peace that would work in addition to the Department of Defense, not get rid of it.