Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Blogosphere takes on Rush Limbaugh

One of the peculiarities of American politics is the fact that preposterous blowhards such as Rush Limbaugh can attract a huge following and spout nonsense for decades without being treated as the hate mongering thugs that they are. Or at least thats the way that things used to work before the blogosphere came along.

Now you don't have to be a Rush Limbaugh to spew idiocy into the ether, but you do have to be a Limbaugh or a Coulter or on the left a Michael Moore to get large numbers of people to take notice of you. The typical Wingnut blogger has to be more economical with the idiocy, reserving it for special occasions such as the all important defense of Rush Limbaugh as Ed Morrisey does at Captain's Quarters.

The captains quarters on a ship are of course its rear end as any devotee of Spongebob Squarepants is aware. Morrisey does not disappoint. Complaining that Limbaughs remarks about 'phony soldiers' were taken out of context. Well what was the context?

LIMBAUGH: "Save the -- keep the troops safe" or whatever. I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.


[Transcript via Media Matters]

Maybe its just me but I see absolutely no ambiguity in the transcript. The people that Limbaugh was referring to as 'phony soldiers' were any soldier who disagreed with Limbaugh's point of view. Moreover the reason that Limbaugh's comments were notable were not because they were particularly unusual, he had spent over a year denigrating Kerry's military service history, but the fact that they came a few days after Limbaugh and right wing talk radio had worked itself up into a lather over MoveOn's attack on Petraeus.

The original Media Matters article that started the controversy can hardly be characterized as quoting Limbaugh out of context, the quotation goes on for several pages. But as has been subsequently demonstrated, Limbaugh's own 'entire transcript, in context, that led to this so-called controversy' did in fact have 1 minute and 35 seconds removed allowing Limbaugh to falsely assert that his 'Phony Soldiers' remark referred to Jesse MacBeth.

Morissey sees things differently "No one in their right mind would believe that Rush didn't support the military or the right of troops to express their opinions on the war". On the contrary, I think that it is abundantly clear that this is exactly the type of thing that Limbaugh does repeatedly and what he intended to do on this particular occasion. I suspect but cannot of course prove that the mention of Jesse MacBeth was only made after the producer listening to the show realized how Limbaugh had just put his foot in it and might well be in need of some cover.

So what is the point here? Why bother with the rantings of the blogosphere? The point is that the Web was originally intended to be an antidote to this type of reporting. How do we distinguish real reporting from agitprop from the likes of Rush and co?

The first point is providing references to back the key points that are in dispute. Media Matters does this, Morissey does not. The only links in his article are to his previous article a report in the Hill on the Republican action in defense of Limbaugh, a link to a Republican audio conference and a blog post by a Republican House member. Nowhere does Morissey think it necessary to provide any form of evidence to substantiate his central claim that Limbaugh's position is worth supporting.

References are important but they can be manipulated. I have not checked to see that the Media Matters transcript is in fact an accurate account of what was said. It is possible that Media Matters could fake the entire article, faking evidence is after all what the founder of Media Matters admits having done for many years while he was a Republican party operative. What is very unlikely however is that Media Matters could have presented a fake transcript on the 27th of September without someone having noticed by now, three weeks later. It is accountable. If Morissey in particular or the right wing blogosphere in general could expose the claim as faudulent they would do so rather than merely asserting that the report had been discredited in unspecified ways.

2 comments:

Larry said...

Ignorance or stupidity? You decide.

The fact is, IN CONTEXT, Rush Limbaugh had already recorded his daily 3 minute Morning Update monolog the previous evening regarding 'phony soldiers', specifically Jesse MacBeth. Rush 24/7 members received the Podcast of this video nearly 24 hours before the 'phony soldier' remark during his radio show.

The mysterious 1 minute 35 second edit that the leftists conveniently leave out consisted of the caller, a soldier, trying to change the subject from phony soldiers to missing WMDs. Rush politely dismissed that, ended the call and immediately went back to discuss the MacBeth story.

If you watched Rush live on the webcam, you could see he already had the paper regarding MacBeth in his hands during the call, WHICH IS WHY HE BROUGHT THE SUBJECT UP DURING THE CALL. It was the perfect lead in to the MacBeth story.

Rush's whole point was how the drive-by media rallies around anyone who pops up who recounts any bizarre story they come up with, until it's discovered they are making it up. There have been several in addition to MacBeth.

THAT was the point and THAT is what the left's smoke and mirrors is trying to get you to look away from.

Phill H-B said...

OK Larry, that actually makes some sort of sense, except for the fact that Rush did introduce the recording as unedited and as you admit it is in fact edited.

Captains quarters seems to be down, so for now I am only going to reply here.

The most important piece of info you provide here is the fact that he had pre-taped the MacBeth segment. That is not something that I have seen elsewhere or brought out in the threat.

Having quite a bit of experience in the media field I can quite imagine how Rush would have come unstuck here. He had the pretaped link to the piece on MacBeth and he wanted to make the link to it. The statement he ended up making implied that all soldiers who disagreed with Rush were phony soldiers.

I don't think that this excuses his conduct though. He did make a factual mistatement when he introduced the edited tape. And even accepting his explanation his objective in bringing up MacBeth was precisely to claim all soldiers who disagree with him are phony soldiers. Where he went wrong is that he intended to make the case by inuendo, in the event he got distracted by his bridge and actually said what he was intending people to think, rather than what he intended to say.

Rush regularly holds his opponents up to an extreme standard so I don't see why this really counts as being unfair. He was hardly fair on John Kerry when he made the remark in the midsessionals that was clearly about the President rather than soldiers.