Politifact cites Media Matters in calling out Limbaugh for “Pants on Fire” fishing ban claim

From a March 17 Politifact.com post:

On his March 9, 2010, talk show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that, “fishing is on the verge becoming a privilege controlled by Barack Obama.” He went on to say that he's only had a few experiences with the sport, but that, “I know a lot of people, former professional athletes, who go into shock after hearing they can't go fishing anymore because of Obama.”


To support his claim, Limbaugh points to an article that appeared on ESPNOutdoors.com on March 9, 2010. The article, written by Robert Montgomery, reported that, “The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters.” This quote was pulled from the Web site of left-wing media watchdog Media Matters. Montgomery later changed his column, so the original language is no longer on the ESPNOutdoors site. But more about that later.


Like many things we check at PolitiFact, this claim is like sausage: it went in the meat processor that is the Internet as one thing and came out quite different. An opinion piece that argued Obama's effort could ban some fishing was chopped up, reprocessed and put back together as a claim that Obama wants to ban all fishing. In fact, the draft framework says nothing about banning fishing. Limbaugh has taken an early discussion about the use of waterways and twisted it to make it sound like Obama is outlawing a popular pastime. While the panel's recommendation could change fishing practices in some areas, the framework is still in draft form; the administration has not made any final decisions on what the framework will look like. But Limbaugh is grossly distorting the truth. Pants on Fire!


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