Media Beat, June 29, 1994
By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

Help for Limbaugh

This column is offered as a public service to someone in desperate need of help.

Our aim is to rescue Rush Limbaugh, a man whose words are venerated by millions of followers listening to him on more than 600 radio and 200 TV stations.

Mr. Limbaugh needs help. No one else in the history of American broadcasting has been handed such awesome political power. Day after day, his monologues go unchallenged by opposing views, facts or figures.

Listen to how he cried out for help on his radio show last Aug. 30: "I do not make things up for the advancement of my cause. And if I find that I have been mistaken or am in error, then I proclaim it at the beginning of a program or as loudly as I can."

Given his huge following, Mr. Limbaugh has a responsibility to correct the record. And since he makes so many errors (indeed, he demonstrates a compulsion toward disinformation) and corrects so few, we've volunteered to give him the help he's been seeking.

Begin by retracting some wild comments that even you must know -- in your private moments, away from an audience -- are not true:

  • That "most Canadian physicians" come to the United States when they are in need of surgery.

  • That nicotine's addictiveness has not been proven.

  • That an NBC News president aired faked footage "with the express hope of destroying General Motors."

  • That "women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along." (Remember, Rush, that before feminism" women couldn't even vote.)
Then begin correcting your false claims with true figures; we've included some to help you get started.
  • "The poorest people in America are better off than the mainstream families of Europe." True figures: The average yearly income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans is $ 5,226, while the average income in Germany, France, Britain and Italy is $ 19,708.

  • "Not one indictment" resulted from Lawrence Walsh's Iran-contra investigation, you said. In fact, there were 14 indictments, most of which resulted in convictions or guilty pleas.
Next, correct the following distortions by clarifying who your sources are.
  • When you repeatedly claim that volcanic eruptions do more harm to the ozone layer than human-produced chemicals, tell the public that your source on the volcano theory is a magazine produced by the Lyndon LaRouchite network. Atmospheric scientists long ago rejected that theory.

  • When you declared the Clintons send their daughter to a school that required students to write a paper on why they feel guilty being white, you went on to add: "My source for this story is CBS News. I am not making it up!" You should inform your audience that CBS has no evidence of the story, nor does the school.
Now, admit that sometimes you get so emotional about advancing your cause that you can't keep yourself from overstatement.
  • On your March 10 radio show, you spoke in urgent tones of "news" that a Wall Street newsletter claimed "Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton." The newsletter mentioned neither murder nor Hillary Clinton's apartment; on a later Ted Koppel ABC special, you dissembled: "Never have I suggested that this was murder."
Agree to seek further guidance for your problem. Study the new report, "Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error," which compiles dozens of falsehoods on topics from Whitewater to AIDS to taxes.

On the day of the release of this compilation -- which was published by our associates in the media watch group FAIR -- the Associated Press reported that "Mr. Limbaugh did not deny saying or writing the statements attributed to him, nor did he defend their accuracy."

Finally, fill up the next few weeks of broadcasts correcting the record. That way, during those weeks, you won't have time to make any new errors.

Now, dear reader: You're probably wondering what you can do to aid this man in need. You might send this column to your local Limbaugh TV or radio outlet -- and suggest to station managers that they can help Mr. Limbaugh help himself by implementing that old broadcasting concept of balance and debate.

If Mr. Limbaugh faced genuine debates, an opposing voice would be present to correct the record as soon as Mr. Limbaugh opened his mouth - or closed it, if such were possible -- and there would be no need for voluminous special reports listing his falsehoods.

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