Limbaugh backs off Sheehan comparison with Burkett: “I've never said this”

On the August 17 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed his August 15 comments about Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, were being misreported. Media Matters for America noted that on his August 15 broadcast, Limbaugh compared Sheehan to Bill Burkett, the retired Texas Air National Guard officer who provided CBS' 60 Minutes with unauthenticated documents regarding President Bush's National Guard record, arguing that “her story is nothing more than forged documents.”

Media Matters documented Limbaugh's statement:

LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.

But on the August 17 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh falsely claimed that his comments were being misreported:

LIMBAUGH: Let me take a brief time out here to address something. I have been the recipient of a pretty decent amount of hate mail, far, far, far more hate mail than I usually get. Just this morning -- and I don't really get a whole lot of hate mail. And most of it's funny as it can be. But apparently there is something that is out there misreporting what I have said. And of course, these people are reading that rather than listening to this program and choosing to believe it.

Apparently, what's out there is that I said that Cindy Sheehan is no different than Bill Burkett, that Bill Burkett lied and Cindy Sheehan lied. They're actually out there, people saying that I am accusing Cindy Sheehan of making up the fact that she had a son and making up the fact that her son died in Iraq. And of course, I've never said this. That I, early on in this, if you wanna go back -- and we'll post the archives on my website tonight just to illustrate this. I'm the one that actually expressed a little compassion for her. And I said I don't really wanna talk too much about her, particularly because she's lost a son here. And that can never be easy. And I don't care -- there are all kinds of different people that have all kinds of different reactions to this. But losing a child is the absolute worst thing that can happen to an adult. There's nothing that rivals it, in my estimation.

So the idea that I think that she's making it all up is just another sign of the desperation of the people on the left who love to take us all out of context to try to get their side riled up. What I said was that the media looks at her the same way they look at Bill Burkett, as an opportunity. It didn't matter whether Burkett was telling the truth or not, and it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are. She is protesting Bush, Burkett hated Bush. That's why they're attractive to the media, and that's why the media is willing to exploit her.

Limbaugh himself featured his original statement on his website as a “Members Only” quote: