LIMBAUGH: On his April 5 radio show, Limbaugh announced he was going to “nuke FAIR” with new information he had found about forests: “This, of course, is an area about which I’ve come under severe and fallacious attack by this media watchdog bunch of homies called Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting,” Limbaugh said.
He proceeded to quote from a Robert Samuelson op-ed column in the Washington Post (4/5/95) that reviewed a book by Newsweek reporter Gregg Easterbrook: “‘In the mid-19th Century, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut were about 35 percent wooded; now they are 59 percent wooded.’ More forest land today than 200 years ago,” Limbaugh noted.
REALITY: Ranger Rush strikes again. The original claim that FAIR had challenged was that “we have more acreage of forest land in the United States today than we did at the time the Constitution was written” (radio, 2/18/94); in his second book, he had written that there is more forest land in the U.S. today than there was when Columbus first reached the New World. The real figures, according to U.S. Forest Service estimates: in 1492, approximately 1 billion acres of forest; in 1787, about 930 million; 1992, 737 million.
In the past, Limbaugh has tried to prove he was right by showing that there is more forest land now than in 1952 (radio, 7/5/94) or 1920 (“Limbaugh Responds to FAIR,” press release)–neither of which has anything to do with the Constitution or Columbus. Now in his third failed defense, he cites a statistic that is off by more than half a century and ignores 47 of 50 states.
Behind the Times
LIMBAUGH: On the Republicans’ “Contract With America”: “The New York Times never ran anything on the contract ’til after the election. The rest of the news media hardly talked about it at all.” (TV, 4/6/95)
REALITY: In the 42 days between the announcement of the “Contract with America” and the November 8, 1994 election, the New York Times published 45 articles that mentioned the contract–more than one a day. The Nexis computer database reports that more than 1,400 pieces mentioning the contract were published before the election.
Fool Me Twice
LIMBAUGH: Limbaugh on his April 27 radio show recited alleged quotes from Pacifica radio host Julianne Malveaux and CBS reporter Eric Engberg as examples of “liberal hate speech.” According to Limbaugh, Malveaux had said:
And Engberg, Limbaugh said, had reported that Newt Gingrich “has come forward with a welfare reform plan straight out of Oliver Twist and an attitude that child advocates say reminds them of Ebenezer Scrooge.”
REALITY: Both quotes come from the April Fools’ edition of Notable Quotables, a newsletter that lists quotes from media that the right-wing Media Research Center, headed by Brent Bozell, finds too liberal. Every year, the group puts out a list of made-up quotes, each dated April 1, with “April Fools” printed at the bottom of the two-page publication. And for the second year in a row, Limbaugh has fallen for the hoax, responding with outrage to the fake quotes. (See Extra!, 7-8/94.)
Limbaugh admitted he had been hoaxed on his April 28 show, but refused to apologize to the smeared journalists (Washington Post, 4/29/95): “Given some of the things liberals actually do say, it’s not too tough to believe they would say the things Bozell makes up.”
From the Left–I’m Rush Limbaugh
LIMBAUGH: Rush Limbaugh was invited to be a panelist on This Week With David Brinkley on April 16–filling in for Sam Donaldson. While Donaldson is in no sense a left-winger, he sometimes argues with George Will. In Donaldson’s absence, Brinkley, Will, Cokie Roberts and Limbaugh basically agreed about almost everything: tax cuts, the Voting Rights Act, Clinton’s comments on Vietnam.
But some debate was provided–Limbaugh vs. Limbaugh–as the “truth detector” tripped over himself to agree with Will. Here’s Limbaugh on the question of whether Gen. Colin Powell was in or out of the presidential race: “Well, I think Powell’s definitely in. I don’t think there’s any real question about it. I think he’s playing it very–very coyly, in fact. He’s taking advantage of the third party candidate opportunity.”
VS. LIMBAUGH: Here’s Limbaugh a few minutes later, after Will said, “I disagree with Rush”: