Limbaugh’s Selective Outrage Over False Quotations

John K. Wilson (Obamapolitics, 10/16/09) on Rush Limbaugh and fake quotes:

When it came to people repeating false quotes about Limbaugh that Limbaugh himself had never bothered to deny, Limbaugh was outraged: “we are in the process behind the scenes working to get apologies and retractions with the force of legal action against every journalist who has published these entirely fabricated quotes about me, slavery, and James Earl Ray.”

But when it came to his own false quotes, Limbaugh has been entirely indifferent to fake quotes.

In one of his books, Limbaugh claimed to be quoting James Madison: “We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” The quote was a fake. Limbaugh admitted: “The quote is not Madison’s. But the misattribution of this statement (an error, not ‘a lie’) has been made by many over the years.”

Ah, so when Limbaugh was publishing fake quotes, it was “an error, not ‘a lie,'” and it was excused because the mistake was made “by many over the years.”

On April 27, 1995, Limbaugh read examples of “liberal hate speech” by Pacifica radio host Julianne Malveaux and CBS reporter Eric Engberg from the right-wing Media Research Center’s newsletter, unaware that he was reading fake quotes from the April Fool’s edition published almost a month earlier. The next day (4/28/95), Limbaugh admitted the quotes were false, but he heroically refused to apologize to the journalists he had falsely smeared: “Given some of the things liberals actually do say, it’s not too tough to believe they would say the things Bozell makes up.” Limbaugh’s error was even more amazing because he had made the exact same mistake of reading the newsletterâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s fake quotes as if they were real one year before (Extra!, 7-8/94).

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.