USA Today, July 19, 1994
By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

Limbaugh: Defending The Way Things Aren't

If there's one thing Rush Limbaugh seems to find delightful, it's his daily exercise of heaping ridicule on selected targets. But he has proved hypersensitive - and inept - in responding to criticism.

A couple of weeks ago, the media-watch group FAIR issued "Limbaugh's Reign of Error," a report detailing dozens of inaccuracies and distortions by the nation's most widely heard commentator. The report didn't fault Limbaugh for being conservative. It faulted him for being wrong - time and again - presenting fantasies as facts.

The self-proclaimed "truth detector" seems particularly enraged that documentation of his routine falsehoods has gained extensive media coverage. Yet he has turned down invitations to defend himself on neutral turf. When National Public Radio invited him to rebut a FAIR representative on Weekend Edition July 9, he declined. He rejected an offer to appear the same weekend on CNN's Reliable Sources, then on his own show assailed the CNN program for bias against him.

Perhaps Limbaugh's response is understandable. After all, how could he defend past assertions that range from the asinine to the ridiculous? As a sampling of Limbaugh-isms indicates, a historian he's not:

-- Limbaugh wrote in one of his books, "Those gas lines were a direct result of the foreign oil powers playing tough with us because they didn't fear Jimmy Carter."

In fact, the first and most serious gas lines were in the Nixon administration.

-- On a recent TV show, Limbaugh said that Lawrence Walsh's Iran-contra investigation produced "not one indictment."

Walsh won 14 indictments, most of which led to convictions or guilty pleas.

-- "Any time the illegitimacy rate in black America is raised, Reverend Jackson and other black 'leaders' immediately change the subject," wrote Limbaugh.

Jesse Jackson has been talking about and against "children having children" for years, as have many other black leaders.

-- "The videotape of the Rodney King beating played absolutely no role in the conviction of two of the four officers," Limbaugh asserted on his radio show.

The day after the federal court verdict, the Los Angeles Times ran the accurate headline: "Jury foreman says video was crucial in convictions."

-- "Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along," declared Limbaugh.

Before feminism came along, women couldn't even vote.

In talk-show annals, the summer of 1994 may be remembered as the season when high-flying Rush Limbaugh fell to Earth. That thud we're hearing now is a result of the combined weight of too many half-truths and distortions passed off on an unwitting audience as matters of fact.

Maybe, as Mark Twain put it long ago, a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on. But the truth has a way of catching up, sooner or later. And that, as Rush might say, is the way things ought to be.

home | more articles | book a lecture
Cable News Confidential
My Misadventures in Corporate Media

Wizards of Media Oz
Behind the Curtain of Mainstream News
w/Norman Solomon
Common Courage Press

The Way Things Aren't
Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error
w/Steve Rendall et al, New Press

Through the Media Looking Glass
Decoding Bias and Blather in the News
w/Norman Solomon
Common Courage Press

Adventures in Medialand
Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits
w/Norman Solomon
Common Courage Press