“Reign of Error: From AIDS to ozone, from Whitewater to the Bible, Limbaugh seems to be able to dissemble and disinform on virtually any subject.” — report from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), listing “dozens of [Limbaugh’s] statements and writings it says are inaccurate,” Associated Press, June 28, 1994.
“Limbaugh’s Reign of Error” was printed in EXTRA!, the publication of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. “FAIR” was launched in the summer of 1987 with the financial assistance of The New World Foundation (NWF) which gave FAIR a $2,500 grant that year, according to NWF’s 1987-1988 annual report. The Chair of NWF’s board in 1987 was Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Mrs. Clinton, a board member since 1982, resigned in March of 1988.)
What follows is a rebuttal to the FAIR allegations printed by the Big Five print media outlets: The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today.
Responding to FAIR’s charges printed by major print media outlets
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting’s charges (as reported by the Associated Press, June 28, 1994)
1. Student loans
LIMBAUGH: “Banks take risks in issuing student loans and they are entitled to the profits.”
FAIR: “Banks take no risks in issuing student loans, which are federally insured.”
REALITY: Banks do take risks in issuing student loans and are entitled to their profits.
“The federal government instituted the guaranteed student loan program to provide incentives to banks to make risky loans to students with no assets, no credit records, no full-time jobs and no permanent address. This is enormous risk. The government helps mitigate this risk. But, the government will only pay off defaulted loans if banks have followed a very careful, very detailed, very exacting set of procedures of servicing and collecting student loans. If banks don’t follow the guidelines precisely, they won’t be reimbursed by the government and they are left high and dry. That is risk.” — Fritz Elmendorf, Vice President for Communications, Consumer Bankers Association [by interview].
So, as I said: When banks take that kind of risk, they are entitled to their profits (even now, however, Congress is instituting new rules and regulations that are cutting the profitability of bank-issued student loans).
2. American health care
LIMBAUGH: “If you have any doubts about the status of American health care, just compare it with that in other industrialized nations.”
FAIR: “The United States ranks 16th in life expectancy and 21st in infant survival among industrialized nations, according to the CIA’s 1993 World Fact Book.”
REALITY: America’s health care system is the best in the world.
According to Dr. Elizabeth McCaughey: “The [Clinton] Administration often cites two statistics — America’s relatively high infant mortality rate and its lower life expectancy — to support the need for the Clinton health bill. But these have almost nothing to do with the quality of American medical care. Both statistics reflect the epidemic of low-birth-weight babies born to teenage and drug-addicted mothers, as well as the large numbers of homicides in American cities and drug-related deaths. In fact, if you’re seriously ill, the best place to be is in the United States. Among all industrialized nations, the United States has the highest cure rates for stomach, cervical, and uterine cancer, the second highest cure rate for breast cancer and is second to none in treating heart disease.” — Dr. Elizabeth McCaughey, John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, “No Exit,” The New Republic, February 7, 1994.
3. Forest acreage
LIMBAUGH: “Do you know we have more acreage of forest land in the United States today than we did at the time the Constitution was written?”
FAIR: “In what are now the 50 U.S. states, there were 850 million acres of forest land in the late 1700s vs. only 730 million acres today.”
REALITY: Enormous tracts of trees were destroyed by settlers in this country, without being replanted. Today, reforestation is a critical component of the U.S. lumber industry. Furthermore, with increasingly sophisticated measuring methods, the more sure we are about the rapidly increasing rate of forest growth in the continental United States. These are the current facts: In 1952, the U.S. had 664 million acres of forest land. In 1987 the number had climbed to 731 million acres, according to the most recent numbers available in the U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1993-1994 edition.
“According to the U.S. Forest Service, annual timber growth in the U.S. now exceeds harvest by 37 percent. Annual growth has exceeded harvest every year since 1952. In 1992, just 384,000 acres — six-tenths of 1 percent of the National Forest land open to harvesting — were actually harvested. As a result of growth steadily exceeding harvests, the number of wooded acres in the U.S. has grown 20 percent in the past twenty years. The average annual wooded growth in the U.S. today is an amazing three times what it was in 1920. In Vermont, for example, the area covered by forests has increased from 35 percent a hundred years ago to about 76 percent today.” — Joseph Bast, Peter Hill and Richard Rue, Eco-Sanity: A Common Sense Guide to Environmentalism (Madison Books: 1994), p. 23.
4. Chelsea Clinton
LIMBAUGH: “You know the Clintons send Chelsea to Sidwell Friends private school…a recent eighth-grade class assignment required students to write a paper on ‘Why I Feel Guilty Being White.’ My source for this story is CBS News.”
FAIR: “CBS denied running such a story and a Sidwell spokesman said it never happened.” In its New York Times advertisement, FAIR calls this an example of a “groundless assertion.”
REALITY: In fact, CBS Morning Resource, a wire service for radio talk show hosts run by CBS Radio Networks, reported the story on January 6, 1994. The operations director of an Ohio radio station faxed the CBS wire story to my New York studios, which I read on the air. Playboy magazine (February 1994) and Heterodoxy magazine (September 1993) had both already published the story, and in fact were the sources of the CBS wire story. And my own research has uncovered what every media outlet that uncritically repeated FAIR’s charge could have learned by investigating (but did not bother): that — despite Sidwell Friends’ denials — the story was, in fact, true.
On CNN‘s “Reliable Sources” (7/10/94), Ellen Hume said: “I don’t respect someone who is clearly telling myths and pretending that he’s got facts behind him. Occasionally [Limbaugh will] do something like say that the Sidwell Friends School had some test for Chelsea — some essay Chelsea Clinton had to write about why I don’t like being white, or why I’m embarrassed to be white, and then he cites a source like CBS News. That simply isn’t true. None of that was true. So where is this coming from and where do you draw the line at a mistake, which we all make, and a deliberate distortion of the fact to pander to myths that people wish were true?”
I responded to this charge in a USA Today column (7/14/94), documenting my information, and insisting that to suggest I pulled the story out of thin air or lied about CBS as its source is patently untrue.
The following week on CNN‘s “Reliable Sources,” Ellen Hume back-pedaled. “[I]n deference to Rush, I would like to make a clarification, which is that there was a story that he put out on the radio, that Chelsea Clinton had had to write some essay about how she hates being white. This was not a true story. Rush, as far as I know, never apologized for broadcasting it, but he did say he got it from CBS. It turns out that the bad guy here was CBS, not Rush. They had a tip sheet that actually put the story out, so I say, Rush, you’re off the hook on that one.” (7/17/94)
But it was a true story. In a July 16, 1993 article titled “Hillary’s Friends” in Washington City Paper (a D.C. newspaper with a circulation of 90,000), reporter Bill Gifford wrote: “Off the record, some parents will admit to discomfort with the school’s multicultural excesses. The eighth-grade essay assignment on `Why I Feel Guilty About Being White,’ for example. Or the treatment accorded a sixth-grader who stood up, at a school-wide meeting held during the L.A. riots, to express his fear of the rioters (he was later forced to apologize to his black classmates). Other parents quietly fault the school for pandering to its black students, who nowadays are more likely to be the sons and daughters of blue-chip lawyers and entertainment moguls than bus drivers or janitors. The world hasn’t witnessed such aristocratic self-abnegation since Robespierre was lopping off heads. It’s completely riven apart by a collection of neurotic individuals who are worried sick about being seen as politically incorrect,’ fumes a parent of one of Chelsea’s classmates. But these same people seem possessed by the urge to mention, at the first opportunity, that their kids Got In.”
My office did what no other journalist did: we tracked the story to its root, and talked to the original reporter. He confirmed the story. The paper’s editor, Jack Shafer, who knows the reporter’s source, agreed: “Yes, I stand by the story.” Amazingly, the reporter says that FAIR never called him before they ran with the story. They called him after they published the charge — at which time the reporter says he told FAIR the same thing he told my office, that he stands by the story and it’s true. Yet FAIR has never retracted its charge, corrected its record, or apologized for its error.
5. Beer and alcohol taxes in 1993
LIMBAUGH: “You better pay attention to the 1993 budget deal because there is an increase in beer and alcohol taxes.”
FAIR: “There were no increases in beer and alcohol taxes in the 1993 budget.”
REALITY: Beer and alcohol taxes were indeed considered for the 1993 budget deal. FAIR gives no context to the quote, nor a date on which I supposedly said it. I could have been referring to:
Clinton’s 1993 budget plan. The idea of taxing beer and alcohol was a trial balloon floated early by the Administration and discussed (as were the myriad other Clinton trial balloons) on my programs. Bob Woodward’s book, The Agenda, reports: “Friday morning, the team gathered in the Governor’s Mansion again. Sperling, looking for more revenue to pay for the new spending, had suggested additional new taxes on inheritance, securities transfers, alcohol, and tobacco” (p. 46). “Bensten had a single sheet listing various possible taxes. It included taxes on cigarettes and alcohol” (p. 88). The final budget did not raise beer and alcohol taxes, but it did include the much-debated gas tax, which affected every product shipped by truck — including beer and other alcoholic products.
Clinton’s 1993 health care financing plan. “Increasing sin’ taxes — federal taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages — is being considered as a way to help pay the $30 billion to $90 billion needed annually to provide health care coverage for everyone. A February 1993 Congressional Budget Office study found $40 billion could be raised from 1994 through 1998 by doubling federal tobacco taxes and raising alcohol taxes by $2.50 per proof gallon. Effect of those hikes: 6-pack of beer — current rate: 33 cents; raised rate: 81 cents.” — Judy Hasson, “Clinton Budget Plan: Opposition lies in wait for health-care reformers,” usa Today, 2/22/93.
6. Gas lines and Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy
LIMBAUGH: “Those gas lines were a direct result of the foreign oil powers playing tough with us because they didn’t fear Jimmy Carter.”
FAIR: “The first — and most serious — gas lines occurred in late 1973-early 1974, during the administration of Limbaugh hero Richard Nixon.”
REALITY: I wasn’t discussing the 1973 gas lines. I was discussing the gas lines that Jimmy Carter was responsible for — because he ran such a pathetic foreign policy operation.
According to Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer-prize-winning author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power, “the policy of the United States, Iran’s most important ally, was in confusion, disarray and shock. The United States never sent [Iran] a clear, consistent signal,’ one senior official recalled. Instead of oscillating back and forth between one course of action and another and never deciding, we would have done better to have flipped a coin and then stuck to a policy.’ The cacophony from the United States certainly confused the Shah and his senior officials, undermined their calculations, and drastically weakened their resolve at midday on January 16, the Shah boarded a plane and left Tehran for the last time, carrying with his luggage a casket of Iranian soil on February 1, [the Ayatollah] Khomeini arrived back in Tehran in a chartered Air France 747. The American defense attache provided a succinct summary of the situation in a message to Washington: Army surrenders; Khomeini wins. Destroying all classified’ The old regime was gone in Iran, and the new one was in power, though most uneasily; there were already bitter struggles for control. And from Iran, as if it had been shaken by a violent earthquake, a giant tidal wave surged around the world. All were swept up in it; nothing and no one escaped. When the wave finally spent its fury two years later, the survivors would look around and find themselves beached on a totally new terrain. Everything was different; relations among all of them were altered. The wave would generate the Second Oil shock, carrying prices from thirteen to thirty-four dollars a barrel, and bringing massive changes not only in the international petroleum industry but also, for the second time in less than a decade, in the world economy and global politics and suddenly, almost overnight, upwards of a billion gallons of motor fuel were sucked out of gasoline station tanks by America’s frightened motorists the gas lines marked the beginning of the end of the Presidency of Jimmy Carter the signing of salt ii, in negotiation for seven years through three administrations, might have been celebrated as a landmark achievement. But not then. It simply did not count. The only thing that mattered was the gas lines — and they were Carter’s fault” (The Prize, p. 679-94).
7. U.S. military/Bosnia
LIMBAUGH: “For the first time in military history, U.S. military personnel [in Bosnia] are not under the command of United States generals.”
FAIR: “‘How far back do you want to go?’ asked Commander Joe Gradisher, a Pentagon spokesman. Americans served under Lafayette in the Revolutionary War and under other foreign commanders in both world wars.”
REALITY: “Rush is right. If an American is shot down in Bosnia, he will have been sent on that mission by an Egyptian bureaucrat, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, because Ghali is the one who approves the use of air strikes. You’ve got a really convoluted command structure over there in which the U.S. has basically ceded authority to U.N. bureaucrats. What’s going on with U.S. troops in Bosnia is fundamentally different than other peacekeeping operations that the U.S. in involved in.” — Larry Di Rita, former staff officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and currently Deputy Director for Foreign Policy and Defense at The Heritage Foundation [by interview].
The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 2) states: “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” The Constitution does not say: “unless U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali thinks otherwise.” U.S. military personnel have served with forces from other countries throughout history, such as in World War I and II, but U.S. generals have always been at the top of the command structure. Dwight Eisenhower’s title, for example, was Supreme Allied Commander because he, an American, was in charge of all operations involving U.S. forces. The danger today, whether in Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti or elsewhere, is that the Clinton Administration is ceding political and military authority to the United Nations.
FAIR’s charges as reported by The Los Angeles Times on June 29, 1994
(except for those covered elsewhere in this response)
1. Rodney King
LIMBAUGH: “The videotape of the Rodney King beating played absolutely no role in the conviction of two of the four officers. It was pure emotion that was responsible for the guilty verdict.”
FAIR: “`Jury Foreman Says Video Was Crucial in Convictions,’ read an accurate Los Angeles Times headline the day after the federal court verdict (4/20/93).”
REALITY: FAIR cites the headline of 199-word article on page 4 of the “B” Section of The Los Angeles Times to “disprove” my point, and ignores the well-documented role of emotion in each of the Los Angeles trials.
I made two points. First, I discounted the role of the videotape in the jury’s decision, despite the jury foreman’s claims. Second, I gave added weight to the emotion of the overall experience of being a “King juror,” a commitment few in the Los Angeles area wanted. My conclusions — clearly in the realm of opinion — can be supported by contemporaneous media reports. Role of the Videotape: The Wall Street Journal (April 19, 1993, article entitled, “Split Decision: Verdict in King Case Owes Much to Lessons of State-Court Trial”) lends credence to my point. It reported that “if their case was made tougher by that added intent’ requirement, U.S. prosecutors had the significant strategic edge of having seen a run-through. In particular, they benefitted from knowing that the notorious 81-second videotape of Mr. King’s beating had been perceived as ambiguous in places by the first jury, and that more evidence would be needed to translate into legal terms what the tape said in visceral terms.”
The Journal also pointed out that: “In general, observers said, prosecutors were less confident in the videotape and were willing to take a chance on evidence that might have seemed risky last year. For instance, early on, they called bystanders who had given state investigators accounts of the incident that didn’t precisely match the videotape. But even though the details were attacked by defense lawyers, the observers’ eyewitness testimony about the use of force was compelling. One woman, who had watched the beating from her apartment, choked up as she described officers kicking Mr. King any way they could get a lick in.'”
This discounting of videotape evidence occurred in the fall 1993 Reginald Denny trial as well. “Jurors Show Seeing Is Not Believing,” by Philip Wasserman, 10/21/93, Wall Street Journal, reported: “The decision of the jury in Los Angeles to acquit Damian Williams and Henry Watson of the most serious charges against them stemming from their beating of Reginald Denny highlights the shortcomings of using videotape as the basis of a prosecution. Like the brutal videotape in the first Rodney King trial, the horrifically compelling tape in the Reginald Denny trial was unable to provide the prosecution with the evidence it needed for convictions on the most serious charges. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. In several high-profile cases in the past few years, videotape has been no substitute for compelling eyewitness testimony. The jurors apparently had no problem deciding that Messrs. Williams and Watson were the men on the tape. But the silent video scenes, shot from the ground and the air, were not enough to convince the jury that the defendants had the specific intent to commit the most serious crimes they were charged with. Ultimately, the 47 minutes of videotape could show jurors only what the defendants were doing, not why.”
Emotion: The Washington Post, like The Los Angeles Times, used the jury foreman’s comment in its headline. But rather than just writing 199 words, The Post used 917 words (on page 4 of the “A” Section) to stress the emotional intensity of the jury’s deliberations. The April 20, 1993 Post led its story by describing “seven days of deliberations so emotional that one man had to seek medical attention for stress.”
The Post further reported: “The interviews revealed disagreement on some key points of the trial. One white male juror said King’s testimony was not very’ important. But a black woman said she thought his appearance was crucial because it made him a human being.’ The foreman of the jury said he was so moved by the testimony that he cried when he heard it.”
The Post continued: “I can say that the jury system works,’ the black woman, a postal worker in her twenties, told. KABC-TV But, she said: One time I was sitting there and I thought where am I? Am I at an AA meeting or am I in a jury room? It was just that emotional.’ The emotional climax of the deliberations came last Tuesday, according to one account, when emotions boiled over. Tuesday it got so heated in there that one of the jurors had to get out of the room,’ a white male juror told ABC‘s Good Morning America.’ On the news, I understood later they said one of the jurors got sick. No, he couldn’t take it in there.’ U.S. Marshal Craig Meacham confirmed parts of that account today. He said that the juror began feeling ill Tuesday, but participated in the deliberations Wednesday morning. By lunchtime he asked to see his doctor and, Meacham said, was treated for a rash brought on by stress and fatigue.”
Further, in an article entitled, “No Punitive Damages for King; Stressful Situation’ For Jurors, City,” USA Today reported on June 2, 1994: “The divisiveness, pain, anger and emotional toll the 1991 Rodney King beating has unleashed here was visible again Wednesday in the faces of nine jurors as verdicts were read in a downtown federal courtroom. The jury forewoman sniffled and wiped tears from her face. Others stared straight ahead, visibly shaken. Another, the only black juror, looked angry The forewoman, a professional mediator, read a statement: “It was a very stressful situation for many of us.”
2. C.C. Myers
LIMBAUGH: “There was one key element that made this happen. One key thing: The governor of California declared the [freeway] a disaster area and by so doing eliminated the need for competitive bids Government got the hell out of the way.” and “They gave this guy [contractor C.C. Myers] the job without having to go through the rigmarole of giving 25 percent of the job to a minority-owned business and 25 percent to a woman.”
FAIR: “There was competitive bidding: Myers beat four other contractors for the job. Affirmative action rules applied: At least 40 percent of the subcontracts went to minority or women-owned firms. Far from getting out of the way, dozens of state employees were on the job 24 hours a day. Furthermore, the federal government picked up the tab for the whole job.”
REALITY: FAIR’s “edit” of my statements amounts to misrepresentation.
I talked on my radio and television shows for days — and read from a number of articles — about the fascinating chain of events that led to the opening of earthquake-damaged highways and bridges days, weeks, and, in some cases, months before they were expected to open. In doing so, I repeatedly made three main points: 1) The private sector — using market incentives — was responsible for repairing California’s roads and bridges so quickly; 2) Government, usually a hindrance and drag on public works projects, made it easier for private companies to do their work by approving no-bid contracts and cutting red tape, and the government did so despite the fact that it was footing the bill; and 3) Contractor C.C. Myers was an American hero for taking advantage of market incentives and government restraint to accomplish what he did. I was right on all three points, and the record supports me.
The private sector and market incentives: “To ensure speedy work, officials set up incentives and penalties: For every day ahead of schedule that work was finished, the company would receive $200,000, and it would be penalized at the same rate for lateness. Caltrans officials based the amount of the incentive bonus on a complicated set of estimates of the daily cost to Los Angeles of having interrupted freeway service. Of all the contracts awarded, the incentive was largest on the Santa Monica,” reported The Los Angeles Times on April 6, 1994.
The Times added: “`This Santa Monica project demonstrates what can happen when private sector innovation and market incentives replace business as usual,’ said Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who joined Wilson and Caltrans officials at the news conference. This is the way government should be carried out all the time, not just in emergencies.'”
Government restraint: “On the day of the quake, working at times by flashlight in a downtown office that lost its power, supervisors began approving emergency no-bid contracts to remove damaged bridges and shore up shaky ones. And in less than three weeks, they issued the first contracts for major reconstruction of the Santa Monica Freeway and fallen stretches of the Golden State Freeway,” reported The Los Angeles Times on February 16, 1994. The Times continued: “Instead of waiting as long as a month between bid openings and the execution of a contract, state officials are opening bids and approving contracts on the same day. And on dozens of smaller jobs — to remove debris, bring down damaged bridges and shore up shaky structures — Caltrans has dispensed with competitive bidding entirely. Department officials are picking contractors to do the work on a standard pay schedule. Some of these no-bid jobs are worth more than $1 million.”
On April 6, 1994, The Los Angeles Times reported: “The high-speed construction was made possible by crews working around the clock, seven days a week, and by state officials cutting through red tape.” Though the government did cut through red tape, it did not waive affirmative action rules. But, given the enormous amount of time I spent on this topic, this very minor misstatement hardly qualifies as a threat to the republic.
C.C. Myers: My comments on Myers were drawn from the following article, “The Santa Monica Freeway, Open Again: The Man Who Put the Pedal to the Metal Construction; Clinton Myers is a bootstrap millionaire who speeded up the job by never taking no for an answer,” by Nora Zamichow of The Los Angeles Times (4/13/94):
“When the railroads told contractor Clinton Myers that it would take three weeks to deliver steel beams needed for rebuilding the Santa Monica Freeway, Myers spent $119,000 to rent his own trains to carry supplies from Arkansas and Texas. When the ironworkers said they were tired from working 10-hour days, seven days a week, Myers, a bootstrap millionaire, hired more. Day and night, Myers pushed, prodded and urged the workers. A man in constant motion, he stopped only when the freeway opened. Then he gazed at the structures, which still have wood framing attached, and pronounced: No one will ever touch what we have done, no one will ever come close.’ And then, he added: But I could do it in 10 days less if I were to design and build it.’
“On the Santa Monica Freeway, Myers immediately made sure all the crews and subcontractors knew his goal. He demanded every boss’s home number and he was not shy about calling day or night. When he first told me his plans to finish mid-April, I thought he was trying to light a fire under me. I’m thinking, Yeah, right, finish in April,’ said Dean Bubion, president of Tri-City Reinforcing Corp., the subcontractor that handled the steelwork. But as Bubion quickly learned, Myers meant it. When you want something bad enough, you’ve got to go for it,’ said Myers, 56.”
As I said, an American hero.
LIMBAUGH: “Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along.”
FAIR: “Before feminism, women couldn’t even vote.”
REALITY: I was referring to contemporary militant feminism, not women’s suffrage. My statement is pure opinion, and my assessment that the true backlash in this country is against militant feminism is an opinion I can well defend.
“Every revolution has its losing side. In the sexual revolution, evidence continues to mount that the supposed winners — liberated’ women — are in some cases turning out to be the losers. Instead of the freedom and equality they thought they had achieved, too many find themselves shackled by unplanned pregnancies, abortions, single motherhood, infections or infertility,” wrote Christian Science Monitor columnist Marilyn Gardner in her April 8, 1993 article entitled, “Sexual Revolution — Women Pay the Cost.”
“I feel the same as I did when I was 19 years old during the women’s liberation movement,’ Ms. [Anita] Blair [a lawyer who began the Independent Women’s Forum] says. Except this time I want to go out and burn my dress-for-success’ suit’s floppy bow ties.’ She would be right, says Clark University philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? (Simon & Schuster). The majority of women are not represented by the feminists,’ Ms. Sommers says. The majority of women are not at war with men, and while grateful for the opportunities that have been made for them, they are turned off by the feminists’ relentless male-bashing,'” reported The Washington Times on December 16, 1993 in an article entitled, “Putting a New Face on Feminism: Fed-Up Women Giving Mainstream a Voice.” “[Washington Post columnist Sally] Quinn’s argument was a muscular one. She wrote that the established feminist leaders and the National Organization for Women are the domestic equivalents of Communist Party apparatchiks in the Soviet Union: ideological dinosaurs, remote from the needs of their constituency and that they should step down and let other people take over. The truth is,’ she wrote, that many women have come to see the feminist movement as anti-male, anti-child, anti-family, anti-feminine. And therefore it has nothing to do with us.'” — from a February 5, 1992, Washington Times column by John Leo.
“To the extent that contemporary feminism abandons its true mission to focus on oppression and self-absorption, it creates social ills more destructive than those it seeks to remedy. By giving rise to expectations that can never be met, it condemns women to despair, and consigns them to permanent victimhood.’ Feminism of this sort clouds women’s judgment; it renders them incapable of distinguishing between needs and wants, between real injustices and garden-variety irritations,” wrote Katherine Kersten in Policy Review (Spring 1991).
4. Anita Hill
LIMBAUGH: “Anita Hill followed Clarence Thomas everywhere. Wherever he went, she wanted to be right by his side, she wanted to work with him, she wanted to continue to date him. There were no other accusers who came forth after Anita Hill did and said, Yeah, Clarence Thomas, he harassed me, too.’ There was none of that.”
FAIR: “Hill could not have continued to date Thomas, since they never dated. Two other women, Sukari Hardnett and Angela Wright, came forth in the Thomas case with similar charges.”
REALITY: My comment about Hill dating Thomas actually demonstrates my recall of the Thomas-Hill episode — specifically that the record shows Anita Hill had a genuine affection for Clarence Thomas and repeatedly invited him to her apartment for drinks (a fact Thomas, not Hill, offered for the record).
In his book, The Real Anita Hill, David Brock writes: “In describing her relationship with Thomas, Hill said nothing about any contacts with him outside the office. According to her account, their relationship was strictly professional and had been confined to the workplace. When Thomas later testified, however, he disclosed that when Hill worked at Education, he occasionally offered her rides from the office to her Capitol Hill duplex, since they lived near one another in the Southwest section of the city. This revelation raises the question of what transpired on these occasions — which overlapped with the period in which the worst harassment had supposedly occurred — and why Hill omitted them from her testimony. According to Thomas, Hill accepted the rides and sometimes invited him into her apartment, where the two engaged in lengthy discussions about their backgrounds, life in Washington, politics, and policy. What I said was, when we were at the Department of Education, there were, as I recall, a number of instances in which I gave her a ride home, and she asked me just to drop in to continue discussion, and I would have a Coke or a beer or something and leave.’On one occasion, Thomas said, Hill asked him to help hook up new stereo equipment, hardly something that an employee would request of her boss unless the two were on good terms and had a relationship outside the office” (p. 294).
As for “other women” accusing Thomas of sexual harassment, there were none. FAIR is simply repeating standard liberal mythology. At this juncture, Anita Hill remains Thomas’s “sole accuser,” writes David Brock (p. 21).
Specifically regarding Angela Wright, Brock writes: “In a May speech at Stanford University, NPR‘s Nina Totenberg said: `Angela Wright was the so-called other woman who made allegations against Clarence Thomas. Angela Wright, in a sworn deposition, said that Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her.’ Yet Totenberg was wrong on two counts: The Wright statement was not sworn, and — one good reason why it warranted little attention during the hearings — it did not charge Thomas with sexual harassment. The campaign to rehabilitate and publicize comments of a woman who never came forward and never charged Thomas with sexual harassment continued” (p. 255).
And who was Angela Wright? Brock writes: “Wright was soon fired from her job on Capitol Hill for intemperate and erratic behavior in the office, and she went to work for the Republican National Committee [RNC]At the RNC, Wright’s reputation did not improve. Former office mates remember having to restrain Wright from pouring boiling hot water from a coffeemaker out a window onto a crowd of pro-choice demonstrators outside the committee’s offices. Wright frequently made suggestive comments and told male co-workers that she liked to walk around her house in the nude” (p. 260).
Specifically regarding Sukari Hardnett, Brock writes: “In addition to resurrecting and mischaracterizing [Angela] Wright’s charge against Thomas, [U.S. News & World Report] also claimed that a third sexual harassment charge had been lodged against Thomas by Sukari Hardnett. This was also false. Hardnett, a former legal assistant to Chairman Thomas, submitted an affidavit to the Judiciary Committee on October 14, the day before the Senate vote on the nomination. Women know when there are sexual dimensions to the attention they are receiving. And there was never any doubt about that dimension in Clarence Thomas’s office,’ Hardnett wrote. She provided no specifics to describe this dimension,’ however. She also stated plainly: I am not claiming that I was the victim of sexual harassment.’ Hardnett said she eventually resigned from the EEOC because she found working on Thomas’s staff unpleasant.’ Diane Holt, however, said in a written statement to the Judiciary Committee that Hardnett was fired from the staff after failing on more than one occasion to pass the bar exam. Co-workers of Hardnett during the period said she never complained to anyone about the working environment in the agency” (p. 416).
5. James Madison
LIMBAUGH: Quotes 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.”
FAIR: “We didn’t find anything in our files remotely like the sentiment expressed in the extract you sent to us,’ David B. Matter, associate editor of The Madison Papers, told the Kansas City Star (1/16/94). In addition, the idea is entirely inconsistent with everything we know about Madison’s views on religion and government.'”
REALITY: 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. (An early citation is found in a 1939 book by Harold K. Lane, Liberty, Cry Liberty.)
But as for the other point — that “the idea is entirely inconsistent with everything we know about Madison’s views on religion and government” — FAIR’s source is wrong. Sample these fully documented quotes by Madison:
“…we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future” (James Madison’s First Inaugural Address, delivered March 4, 1809).
“It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society” (cited in Forrest McDonald’s Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution, published by the University Press of Kansas in 1985, p. 45).
“Religion, or the duty we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, that all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate, unless under color of religion any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or safety of society, and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love and charity toward each other” (cited in Gaillard Hunt’s James Madison and Religious Liberty, published by the Government Printing Office in 1902, p. 166).
“The belief in a God All Powerful, wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it” (cited in A.D. Wainwright’s Madison and Witherspoon: Theological Roots of American Political Thought, published by the Princeton University Library in 1961, p. 125).
6. Native Americans
LIMBAUGH: “There are more American Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived or at any other time in history. Does this sound like a record of Genocide?”
FAIR: “According to Carl Shaw of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, estimates of the pre-Columbus population of what later became the United States range from 5 million to 15 million. Native populations in the late 19th century fell to 250,000 due in part to genocidal policies. Today the U.S.’s Native American population is about 2 million.”
REALITY: The facts support me. FAIR is repeating the liberal myth that American Indians were systematically wiped out by white genocide. In See, I Told You So (from which FAIR takes my statement), I myself point out that while “there were certainly atrocities against Indians by white people,” the full picture indicates that “life was far from utopian for these people” and that “there were just as many — and probably to a greater degree of savagery — committed by other Indians” (p. 68).
As for Indian population in the New World, Robert Royal, author of 1492 And All That: Political Manipulations of History, writes: “Estimates of pre-Columbian population figures have become heavily politicized with scholars who are particularly critical of Europe often favoring wildly higher figures. High starting points make Indian deaths by disease, warfare, and mistreatment all the greater. David Henige has dubbed this Native American Historical Demography as Expiation.’ Yet despite their mistreatment by Europeans and devastation by European diseases (large numbers of Indians died as disease passed along trade routes, 80 percent without ever seeing a white man), some Indian groups are more populous today than in 1492. There are now more than 30 million Indians in Latin America alone, and there are several times more Iroquois in North America than at first contact.” — Robert Royal, “Hello Columbus: America Was No Paradise in 1492,” Policy Review, Fall 1992, p. 44.
As for instances of “genocidal policies,” Royal asks: “Genocide? Where? I don’t know of any instances of Indian genocide. Mistreatment, yes. Warfare, yes. Deaths related to diseases caught from Europeans, yes. But systematic genocide, policies of genocide, no. Where are these policies? Where is the proof? The fact is, activists who spout off such claims of genocide have no proof. It’s amazing what they can get away with” [by interview].
FAIR’s charges as reported by The Washington Post July 1, 1994
(except for those covered elsewhere in this response)
1. Whitewater coverage
FAIR: Limbaugh has said, “I don’t think The New York Times has run a story on [Whitewater] yet there has not been a big one, front-page story, about this one that we can recall.”
REALITY: My full quote, cited in FAIR’s own report, reads: “I don’t think The New York Times has run a story on this yet. I mean, we haven’t done a thorough search, but I — there has not been a big one, front-page story about this one that we can recall. So this has yet to create or get up to its full speed — if it weren’t for us and The Wall Street Journal and The American Spectator, this would be one of the biggest and most well-kept secrets going on in American politics today.” The date I said this: February 17, 1994.
My point, that as of February, much of the mainstream press had not played up Whitewater details while conservative publications had covered the scandal prominently and advanced the story, is correct. I plainly state that I don’t recall if The New York Times has run a front-page story. And the fact that I overlooked one Times article that ran eleven months earlier is hardly indicative of a “reign of error.”
My quote came exactly nine days before The New York Times ran another major news story on Whitewater and followed that with an editorial the following day blasting the Clinton Administration in a piece entitled, “Slovenly White House Ethics.” New York Post critic Hilton Kramer then noted: “If we may judge from the catch-up reporting in Saturday’s New York Times and the paper’s fire-and-brimstone editorial on Sunday, it looks as if the scandals plaguing President Clinton and the First Lady are rapidly approaching disaster. Given the way the paper has shamelessly downplayed the Clintons’ follies in the past — even as the press was coming up with more and more sensational revelations — I think we can assume that the situation has gotten to be too hot now to be ignored, even by the Times.”
2. Gulf War I
LIMBAUGH: On the Persian Gulf, Limbaugh has said “everybody in the world was aligned with the United States except who? The United States Congress.”
FAIR: Both houses of Congress voted to authorize the U.S. to use force against Iraq.
REALITY: Congress eventually went along with President Bush’s policy — but they had to be dragged along, kicking and screaming since a majority in Congress and the Democratic leadership were against military action month after month. This is my point, easily understood in the context of my view that the Democratic Congress was almost always opposed to what George Bush favored. Congress didn’t even vote “yes” on a resolution to authorize military force until January 12, three days before the deadline for war, and after three days of intense and emotional debate.
Bob Woodward, in his book The Commanders, wrote that on January 6, 1990, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney argued the President not take his case before Congress at all for fear of having Democrats vote “no” on authorization to use force against Iraq. “Cheney was deeply suspicious of the Democrats, who controlled Congress. He thought they would love to slam the door on the administration’s efforts. The next day, on January 7, [House] Speaker [Tom] Foley announced that the House would begin debate later in the week on a resolution authorizing the use of force. He personally opposed the use of force until economic sanctions were given more time, but he said that he believed the authorization would pass by a narrow margin.” That is precisely what happened. In the Senate, in fact, the vote was a mere 52 to 47.
Here are a few salient quotes from leading Democrats at the time, taken from The Congressional Record:
“If we rush to war, it will be a nightmare in the Persian Gulf. Our country will be torn apart, and very little good will happen in the United States or in the world for a long, long, long time.” — Sen. Paul Wellstone
“It’ll be brutal and costly. The Administration refuses to release casualty estimates, but the 45,000 body bags the Pentagon has sent to the region are all the evidence we need of the high price in lives and blood that we will have to pay.” — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
“Is Kuwait worth the life of a GI? Not at all.” — Sen. Ernest F. Hollings
“Nothing large happened. A nasty little country invaded a littler but just as nasty country.” — Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan
3. Gulf War II
LIMBAUGH: Explaining why the Democrats wanted to “sabotage” President Bush with the 1990 budget deal: “Now, here is my point. In 1990, George Bush was president and was enjoying a 90 percent plus approval rating on the strength of our victories in the Persian Gulf War and Cold War.” (Told You So, p. 304)
FAIR: In October 1990, when the budget deal was concluded, the Gulf War had not yet been fought.
REALITY: My point, that George Bush was riding high in the polls on the strength of his handling of foreign policy (the Persian Gulf and managing the twilight of the Cold War) and that this popularity was sabotaged by the Democrats in the 1990 budget deal, is supported by the record. Eighteen days after Kuwait was invaded by Iraq (Aug. 2, 1990), Bush’s approval rating on the crisis was at 82 percent, according to a usa Today poll. His overall approval rating was at 76 percent, according to a CBS News/New York Times survey. By November 13, a month after the budget deal vote, Bush’s approval rating on handling the Persian Gulf crisis had fallen to 51 percent (see “Bush Support Slim,” usa Today, 11/13/90). His overall approval rating that month, according to cbs/ny times, was down as well — to 60 percent. According to pollster Frank Luntz, this 16-point drop in the overall rating is one of the sharpest two-month declines in modern presidential history.
Wrote David Broder on November 4, 1990, before the U.S. invasion had begun: “The era of good feelings President Bush engendered after the nastiness of the 1988 campaign lasted for more than a year, punctuated by broad public support for his military actions against Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, and the celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the freedom of Eastern Europe. But then Bush put himself at the very center of the most frustrating of all Washington problems, the budget deficit. He built a bipartisan summit — and dove off its peak. By dumping his tax pledge, he separated himself from most of his party’s candidates, and the budget deal he obtained — after much grief — was not one that many voters cheered.” — “The Year of Voting Dangerously,” in The Washington Post, 11/4/90.
Ironically, on the day that Kuwait was invaded, two quotes referring to the 1990 budget deal appeared in The Washington Post that fully support my contention that the Democrats knew full well that they were sabotaging President Bush:
“We are watching the Bush presidency unravel,’ said Democratic National Committee Chairman Ronald H. Brown.” (Washington Post, 8/2/90)
“Democrats agreed to help the president, Panetta said, but we did not pledge that every time the Republicans slit their wrists, we’ll slit ours.'” (Washington Post, 8/2/90)
FAIR’s charges in a New York Times advertisement July 6, 1994
(except for those covered elsewhere in this response)
1. Canadian health care
FAIR: “Rush’s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include `most physicians come to the U.S. when in need of surgery.'”
REALITY: My full quote, found in FAIR’s own report, is this: “Most Canadian physicians who are themselves in need of surgery, for example, scurry across the border to get it done right; the American way. They have found, through experience, that state medical care is too expensive, too slow and inefficient, and, most important, it doesn’t provide adequate care for most people.”
Canadian medical care is expensive, slow, and inefficient. Wrote Heritage Foundation health care policy analyst Edmund Haislmaier in a 1991 Policy Review article entitled, “Northern Discomfort: The Ills of the Canadian Health System”: Canada’s “health care system has been fully nationalized for the past two decades. In a 1989 cover story entitled Sick to Death,’ the Canadian news magazine McLean’s described [Charles] Coleman’s case [who, at 63, had his coronary bypass surgery postponed 11 times and died eight days after the surgery was finally performed], as well as numerous other examples of a national health care system in crisis. Dr. Phil Gold, then-chief physician of Montreal General Hospital, complained, I’m living from hand to mouth and waiting for disaster each dayI don’t know when someone will die for lack of a bed or the proper equipment.”
As for “most” physicians scurrying over the border, this is an obvious humorous exaggeration to be sure, but it is hardly “groundless.” The Canadian media itself reports on fed-up doctors coming to the U.S. Note this headline in the London [Ontario] Free Press on June 28, 1994: “Cutbacks, Frustration, Pushing Doctors to U.S.” The article states: “Frustrated by restrictions, cutbacks, and loss of respect, the number of doctors actively seeking work south of the border is on the rise — and Americans are embracing them with open arms. I have never heard of as many doctors who have their names with recruiting agencies, or who have gone to the States to look around as I have for the past six months,’ says [a member] of the London District Academy of Medicine, who has practiced in that city for 23 years.” The article also stated, “In the U.S., which traditionally attracted Canadian specialists, the biggest demand now is for family physicians, says Jim Merritt, president of the Irving, Texas, based Merritt, Hawkins and Associates, one of the largest American physician recruitment firms.”
W. Gifford-Jones, himself a Canadian doctor, wrote a column for The Evening Telegram (St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada) entitled, “Public’s Appetite Too Ravenous for Free Medical Care.'” He stated: “Mrs. Clinton take note. Many hospital beds in Canada have closed due to a lack of government funding. Operating rooms stand idle at certain times in a desperate effort to save money. Cutbacks are evident in every hospital service. It’s meant that some Canadians have become more familiar with the U.S. But they’re not tourists on their way to the Grand Canyon. Rather, they’ve crossed the border for bypass surgery and other procedures to avoid long waiting lists in Canada. But not only patients cross the 49th parallel. Some of the best physicians and surgeons have fled south, due to inadequacies in the system. One doctor who moved to Buffalo, N.Y., told me, Now I’m considered part of the solution. In Canada I was considered part of the problem.'”
Furthermore, scores of wealthy and well-connected Canadians come to the United States for surgery because they cannot get timely, quality service in Canada’s own nationalized health care system. In 1993, Joanna Miyake and Michael Walker of the Frasier Institute, a Vancouver, Canada-based think tank, published a 1993 study entitled, “Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada.” They wrote: “More people in Canada will die this year of cardiovascular disease than of any other single disease. Because cardiovascular disease is a degenerative process and the decay of the cardiac surgery candidate is gradual, under a system of rationed supply some cardiovascular surgery candidates tend to be bumped by patients with other conditions that require immediate care. The result has been lengthy waiting lists, often as long as a year or more, followed by public outcry, prompting short-term funding. For instance, last year we reported that Newfoundland’s waiting list for coronary bypass surgery was a year long.” Miyake and Walker, discussing how patients deal with such waiting lists, continue: “U.S. hospitals have also provided a convenient short term solution to excessive waiting lists for cardiac surgery. The British Columbia government contracted Washington state hospitals to perform some 200 operations in 1989, after public outcry over the six-month waiting list for cardiac bypass surgery. Wealthy individuals are sometimes choosing to avoid the waiting lists by having their heart surgery performed in the U.S. In fact, a California heart surgery centre has advertised its services in a Vancouver newspaper. Our survey suggests that 5 percent of patients enquire about surgery outside of Canada and 1.5 percent actually have their heart surgery performed outside of the country.” — Joanna Miyake and Michael Walker, “Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada,” 3rd Edition, Critical Issues Bulletin, Frasier Institute, 1993.
What is more, at least one high-level Canadian political figure even travelled to the U.S. for medical care. Wrote Heritage’s Edmund Haislmaier: “When Robert Bourassa, the Premier of Quebec, needed cancer treatment, he crossed into the U.S. and obtained it at his own expense. Such actions by more affluent or politically well-connected Canadians raise the question of whether a two-tiered’ health system, of the kind Canadians long sought to avoid, is now emerging.” — Edmund Haislmaier, “Problems In Paradise: Canadians Complain About Their Health Care System,” Heritage Backgrounder 883, February 19, 1992, p. 2.
2. The nicotine controversy
FAIR: “Rush’s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include … nicotine’s addictiveness has not been proven.'”
REALITY: My point, made over and over again in recent months, is that if nicotine is really a terrible drug then Congress should just call it a terrible drug and ban it outright. The fact is that nicotine’s addictiveness and whether or not it is a drug is, contrary to FAIR’s assertion, a source of tremendous controversy — so controversial that The Washington Post‘s lead editorial on July 2, 1994 dealt entirely with this issue. “[F]ood and drug commissioner David Kesslerhas begun an effort to determine whether nicotine-containing cigarettes meet the law’s definition of a drug. If they do, the Food and Drug Administration has the duty to regulate them if cigarettes are a drug, and if they can’t be shown in their present form to be safe and effective — which a drug would have to be in order to be sold, and which is not very likely — then what does the government do?”
3. Ozone and volcanoes
FAIR: “Rush’s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include … volcanoes do more harm to the ozone layer than man-made chemicals.” This is the lead attack in FAIR’s full report, in which FAIR trashes my source, Dixy Lee Ray’s book, Trashing The Planet, published by Regnery Gateway.
REALITY: FAIR’s source for countering me is Science magazine. However, Science’s June 11, 1993 issue points out that this topic is a huge source of controversy. “[A]tmospheric scientists freely admit that, as a January 1993 review of the Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Chemistry Program’s Ozone Project put it, current understanding of global ozone behavior is fraught with uncertainty.’ Among these uncertainties are whether ozone depletion is due to natural variation and changes in atmospheric circulation, chlorine from CFC’s, or some combination of both.”
Furthermore, Ray’s book is not the only source of discussion of volcanoes and ozone. Ronald Bailey, who has reported on science issues for Forbes and PBS, discusses this topic in chapter eight of his 1993 book, Eco Scam: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse (St. Martin’s Press), noting, “sulfur from Mount Pinatubo and some Southern Hemisphere volcanoes did hasten the opening of the annual Antarctic ozone hole in 1992.”
University professors Ben Bolch and Harold Lyons also discuss volcanoes and ozone in their 1993 book, Apocalypse Not: Science, Economics and Environmentalism (CATO Institute), noting, “volcanic eruptions can so disturb the stratosphere they may lead to significant ozone destruction.” And note this headline from a Boyce Rensberger article in The Washington Post: “Ozone Layer Thins Further, Possibly Because of Volcano” (April 23, 1993).
4. Effectiveness of condoms
FAIR: “Rush’s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include … condom users have a one-in-five aids risk.”
REALITY: This is a distortion of FAIR’s own study, which quotes me as saying, “The worst of all this is the lie that condoms really protect against aids. The condom failure rate can be as high as 20 percent. Would you get on a plane — or put your children on a plane –if one in five passengers would be killed on the flight? Well, the statistic holds for condoms, folks.” My point is that because condoms can have such a high failure rate, they are not good protection against contracting HIV and AIDS. That is distinctly different from saying that condom users have a one-in-five AIDS risk.
As for condom failure rate, Susan C. Weller’s 1993 study for the University of Texas Medical Branch found that “although contraceptive research indicates that condoms are 87 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, results of HIV transmission studies indicate that condoms may reduce risk of HIV infections by approximately 69 percent,” adding that condom “efficacy may be much lower than commonly assumed.”
Having suggested condom use could, over time, fail to prevent HIV transmission 31 percent of the time (note: this is different from someone actually contracting AIDS, but still should be very alarming to the pro-condom community). Weller’s study concludes: “It is a disservice to encourage the belief that condoms will prevent sexual transmission of HIV.”
5. U.S. poor vs. Europe’s mainstream
FAIR: “Rush’s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include… the poorest people in America are better off than the mainstream of families in Europe.'”
REALITY: “`Poor’ Americans live in larger houses or apartments, eat more meat, and are more likely to own cars and dishwashers than is the general population in Western Europe.” — Robert Rector, senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, in a September 22, 1993 study entitled, “The Poverty Paradox: How American Spent $5 Trillion on the War on Poverty Without Reducing the Poverty Rate.”
FAIR: “Rush Limbaugh‘s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include … not one indictment’ resulted from Lawrence Walsh’s Iran-Contra investigation.”
REALITY: FAIR’s actual report quotes me as saying, “This [Special Prosecutor Lawrence] Walsh story basically is, we just spent seven years and $40 million looking for any criminal activity on the part of anybody in the Reagan administration, and guess what? We couldn’t find any. These guys didn’t do anything; but we wish they had so we could nail them. So instead, we’re going to say, Gosh, these are rotten guys.’ They have absolutely no evidence. There is not one indictment. There is not one charge.”
I was painting a portrait of how ridiculous I thought Walsh’s investigation was, pointing out that no one was ever proven to have broken laws vis-a-vis selling arms to Iran or providing funds to the Nicaraguan contras.
I obviously misspoke when I said there were no indictments — I clearly meant to say there were no convictions, a point I have made on many occasions. And I am exactly right that seven years and $40 million were spent to produce no convictions on the substantive points of the Iran-Contra charges.
Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III makes this case in his 1992 book, With Reagan: The Inside Story: “Despite all the rhetoric expended on this issue, it has never been settled in a court of law. The legal verdicts against North and Poindexter, which were subsequently overturned on appeal, were based on other, collateral issues. Likewise, other convictions that were obtained, generally on minor offenses, involved peripheral charges that had more to do with the investigation of the Iran-Contra affair than with the matter itself. To this day, the remaining funds from these transactions are impounded by the Swiss authorities, subject to competing claims from General Secord and the U.S. government. Thus, it is far from certain that the diversion was illegal — and still less certain that any other parts of the Iran-Contra affair were criminal activity” (p. 286).
Michael Gartner’s charges in USA Today, July 12, 1994
GARTNER: “Why does anyone take Rush Limbaugh seriously? He’s a showoff, a showman and a jerk. He’s entertaining. But come on, he is to truthfulness as President Clinton is to faithfulness — he has but a passing acquaintance with it. He’s toying with you, folks, getting you all riled up with a stew of half-truths and non-truths. He’s making fools of you, feeding you swill — and you’re taking it in.” and a related item, as published in EXTRA!:
LIMBAUGH: Assailing a journalist who had criticized Nixon: “Michael Gartner, portraying himself as a balanced, objective journalist with years and years of experience faking events, and then reporting them as news — and doing so with the express hope of destroying General Motors in one case and destroying businesses that cut down trees, the timber industry, in another.” (TV show, 4/27/94) FAIR: Gartner, the NBC News president who resigned in the wake of the GM truck explosion episode on NBC‘s “Dateline,” had no hands-on role in it — nor had he expressed a hope of destroying any company.
REALITY: Gartner, the “former president of NBC News,” was in charge when NBC‘s “Dateline” staged the explosion of a General Motors truck, a nasty episode The Wall Street Journal properly dubbed “the worst scandal to beset NBC News in its four-decade history,” (3/22/93). “NBC News employees made seriously flawed judgments’ and violated numerous division guidelines in putting together a much-criticized story questioning the safety of General Motors Corp. trucks, an NBC-commissioned investigation charges. And when General Motors complained directly about supposed inaccuracies and questionable ethics involved in the story for Dateline NBC,’ news staff failed to follow established rules for handling the protest, the report states. It further singles out Michael Gartner, who resigned as president of NBC News on March 2 for conducting an incomplete investigation when he learned belatedly of GM’s problems with the broadcast.” (The Wall Street Journal, 3/23/93).
A week after the “Dateline” episode, reported Time (3/15/93), “Tom Brokaw expressed his regrets for several aspects of a Nightly News report about environmental abuses on an Idaho river. It featured footage of dead’ fish — but the supposedly deceased denizens of the deep were only stunned as part of an experiment. Clearly, someone’s head was due to roll, and the rollee turned out to be the top man himself: Michael Gartner, president of NBC News.”
To answer Gartner’s question, “Why does anyone take Rush Limbaugh seriously?” — there is just one answer. People take me seriously because I am effective. And in my pursuit of the truth, I am an exceptionally accurate commentator.