October 3rd, 2007
12:22 PM ET
9 years ago

Limbaugh's boss weighs in on 'phony soldiers'

Limbaugh set off a firestorm last week with his "phony soldiers" comment.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The company that syndicates Rush Limbaugh's popular radio program defended the conservative talk-show host Wednesday over his controversial "phony soldiers" remark, telling the Senate's top Democrat it is "unfair" to assume his comments were directed at combat soldiers who disagree with the Iraq war.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Mark Mays, the CEO of Clear Channel Communications, wrote, "Over the years Mr. Limbaugh has repeatedly praised the dedication and valor of our brave men and women in uniform.

"Given Mr. Limbaugh's history of support for our soldiers, it would be unfair for me to assume his statements were intended to personally indict combat soldiers simply because they didn't share his own beliefs regarding the war in Iraq," he added.

Mays' letter was a response to a letter sent by Reid Tuesday, and signed by 41 Senate Democrats, calling on Clear Channel to publicly repudiate the comments. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, were among the senators that signed the letter.

Limbaugh's comments in question came last Wednesday when Limbaugh and a caller were discussing critics of the Iraq war:

"What's really funny is, they [Iraq war critics] never talk to real soldiers," the caller said. "They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media."

"The phony soldiers," Limbaugh then said.

Full story 

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Harry Reid • Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Jeff C, San Francisco

    The reason this resonates is because chicken hawks like Limbaugh Bush & Cheney, who have never served, have a long history of impugning the patriotism of real veterans & heroes like Max Cleland, Paul Hackett etc.

    Also because their "support" of the troops consists mainly of putting them in harm's way & then short-changing them of veteran's benefits.

    October 3, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  2. Brendan, Seattle, WA

    When did politics stop being about doing something positive and progressive and start being about waiting for the other guy to mess up?

    Rush Limbaugh is an idiot, that is not news. He didn't attack the soldiers in Iraq, he attacked war critics for cherry-picking interviewees. Was it a lame argument? Yes. Was it worth all this fuss? No. All politicians care about is making sure to pounce on mistake that anyone associated with the opposite party makes. Opportunity seized, Senators. Well played.

    October 3, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Andy, Tolleson, Arizona

    It's a sad day when the government of the United States of America in an official capacity decides to directly attack a private citizen for a comment. I am quickly losing what little respect I had for our government institutions. Our Democratic leaders have no spine. Our Republican leaders have no spine. Both seem to care about themselves more than America. It's another sad day.

    October 3, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Solomon, New York, NY

    Which is more demoralizing to our troops: Attacking Rush Limbaugh who has always supported our soldiers or Harry Reid telling them "The War is Lost"?

    October 3, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Rich Rochester, NY

    It is easy to say why they do not get the left wing talk shows, left wing talk shows are not popular. Who needs a talk show when the news if filled with the left wing point of view anyways.

    October 3, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. Dave B, Sterling VA

    Why on earth are the ramblings of some drug-addled AM-radio talk show host the subject of national debate? WHO CARES what this guy has to say about anything?!?

    October 3, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. JB Boston MA

    Blah Blah Blah

    Since when did it become the Senate's responsibility to reprimand PRIVATE CITIZENS?

    Hey Reid, my neighbor said something pretty nasty about Italians the other day. Get on it!!!!!!

    This government is a joke!

    October 3, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. Willy Brown Chesapeake, VA

    I see my comments have been removed. Was it because I put your darling Hillary and the Democrats in the comments? Freedom of Speech, now I know what Rush is going though

    October 3, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. D Williams, St Pete FL

    Posted By Michael, Anchorage


    October 3, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Matt, New York, NY

    What a non-story. Did anyone who signed the letter sent by Reid actually read or listen to Limbaugh's commmnents? What blatant politicking. Shame on the Democrats on this one.

    October 3, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Don F, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    Let me great this straight: a soldier who wasn't in Iraq falsely claimed that he was, and was then able to con the media into publishing his made up stories about atrocities, and criticism is now leveled at those who called him a "phony soldier?" (Your motives are clearly showing here.) And, please, give up the childish nonsense about the "s" at the end of soldier!

    Everyone has the right to disagree with and dislike Rush Limbaugh (I'm no big fan), but you don't have to fabricate issues. I'm sure you can find legitimate issues to argue.

    October 3, 2007 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Jon, Shorewood, WI

    For those of you who are too lazy to put this into context, here is what Limbaugh said immediately following his "phony soldiers" remark:

    "I want to thank you, Mike, for calling. I appreciate it very much. I gotta — Here is a morning update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. And they have their celebrities. One of them was Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth. Now — and he was a corporal. I say in quotes. Twenty-three years old. What made Jesse Macbeth a hero to the anti-war crowd wasn’t his Purple Heart, it wasn’t his being affiliated with posttraumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. No. What made Jesse Macbeth, Army Ranger, a hero to the left was his courage, in their view, off the battlefield, without regard to consequences, he told the world the abuses he had witnessed in Iraq. American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, hundreds of men, women, even children. In one gruesome account, translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet, Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth describes the horrors this way. We would burn their bodies. We would hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque. Now, recently, Jesse Macbeth, poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court. And you know what? He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record. He was in the Army, Jesse Macbeth was in the Army, folks, briefly. Forty-four days before he washed out of boot camp, Jesse Macbeth isn’t an Army Ranger, never was. He isn’t a corporal, never was. He never won the Purple Heart. And he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen. Probably haven’t even heard about this. And if you have, you haven’t heard much about it. This doesn’t fit the narrative and the template in the Drive-By Media and the Democrat Party as to who a genuine war hero; don’t look for any retractions, by the way. Not from the anti-war left, the anti-military Drive-By Media, or the Arabic websites that spread Jesse Macbeth’s lies about our troops, because the truth for the left is, fiction is what serves their purpose. They have to lie about such atrocities because they can’t find any that fit the template of the way they see the US military. In other words, for the American anti-war left, the greatest inconvenience they face is the truth."

    And you call conservatives fascists??? Who are the ones trying to spread lies in order to gain political power??? Who are the ones trying to silence someone with a differing opinion??? Wow! And all this article can say is something like "Limbaugh said it was taken out of context." Wow! What is this country coming to? We are on a slow, nay, a fast road to fascism, indeed, and it isn't because of the conservatives.

    October 3, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Brian

    Ahhh...nothing like fake political indignation to carry you through a lunch hour.

    Soldiers can still have an opinion, and most likely have a better one than we all do sitting in the US. It is more of the pattern that politicians use, hypocrisies and slander, than what they are actually saying. Why is the House or the Senate commenting on what private citizens are saying? Do they have that much free time on their hands?

    Rush and MoveOn are just opposite sides of the same coin. That is the problem.

    October 3, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Steve, Camilla, GA

    Give the liberals a break. They are angry. Very angry. You see, when Senator Clinton and the other major candidates told their base that they could not commit to a troop with drawl from Iraq, this infuriated the base. Enter Media Matters. (started by Senator Clinton and her allies). Media Matters took two words out of context. Flashed the media, then flashed the democrats in the House and Senate. This is a ginned up story to focus the rage of the democratic base on Rush, rather than Clinton and the others. It is that simple. Rush has the entire transcript of that week on his website. Check it out. By the way, ABC did a story on phony soldiers before this all started. I think Media Matters doth protest too much.

    October 3, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    Harry Reid and his ilk couldn't care less about our brave soldiers. They are using them as a ploy to attack Rush.

    I hope everyone, regardless of political persuasion, are paying close attention to the recent attacks on talk radio personalities. Last week it was Bill O'Reilly; early this week it was Rush Limbaugh; and today it was announced that Michael Savage is being attacked as well.

    Rhetorical question: How come the left was recently screeching about the Iranian dictator's "Freedom of speech" at Columbia, but deny that same freedom to their own countryment?

    The hypocrisy of liberals is staggering. They know that talk radio is a threat to President Hillary becoming a reality in January 2009. Stay tuned for additional attacks on talk radio personalities; I hope Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck are prepared for their whippings.

    October 3, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Chris, Richmond, Virginia

    It's great to see the leader of the CONNIES (as I like to call the right-wing conservatives), Mr. Limbaugh be called on the carpet for once. What is the difference between this scenario and trying to tie the MoveOn.org ad to a condemnation of all of our troops? It seems that he isn't happy when egregious half-truths, incomplete facts, and statements taken out of context are used to counter the CONNIES media machine. Actually, I don't feel that either the MoveOn.org Advertisement or Mr. Limbaugh's statements should have received this much attention, but then again, fair is fair!

    October 3, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Carsten H, Wilmington DE

    To Doug, NJ.

    Are you saying that everyone who votes Democrat are not decent, honest people? Now that's the same as saying that the GOP is an honest, fair and truthful party.
    What about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Honest? Fair?
    The attack on John McCain by GWB in the primaries regarding his military service, and leaking the fact that he had a "black baby"? Honest? Fair?
    There are definately WMD's in Iraq! Honest? Fair?
    I could name dozens of more examples from both sides of the aisle. Mudslinging and dishonest politics, has been, is, and always will be part of American politics, as long as it continues to have the desired effect on voters. Both the GOP and the Dems are responsible for this. To think otherwise, and to characterize millions of voters as being indecent and dishonest, just because they disagree with you and vote for a different party, just goes to show how closed minded and ignorant you are. Grow up and learn to respect the fact that people are entitled to differing opinions.

    October 3, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Donald F., Stafford County, VA

    I'm a parent of 2 teenagers, I home-school them rather than have them go to socialist public schools. I teach them that liberals are parasites and Democrats are scumbags. Thankfully, my 2 children will grow up never voting for a Democrat. For their social studies course, I have them listen to Rush Limbaugh and have them write me an essay what they learned.

    October 3, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Bert, NYC

    Spoken like a true chicken-hawk.

    October 3, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. The Admiral St. Augustine Fl.

    Of course. MoveOn is the "bad". Limbaugh is the "good". What else did you expect? The Right-wing of this country has lost it's mind and the American people will keep drinking the kool-aid. The Republican party is doomed to fail and it can't happen soon enough to the hypocrits involved. That party should be outlawed.

    October 3, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Justt Joe

    Of course the CEO has to defend old "shoot off my mouth" chubbo...what would Clear Channel have left if the screamer of screamers was off the air? He is a world class loser (oops, except in FL courts)..a phony comic with a microphone is just that....a phony comic with a microphone.

    October 3, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Ron

    However way Limbaugh and his puppeteers at Clear Channel hate machine that operates on the same principals as the 1930's Nazi propaganda machine, however way they try to spin it, the message comes across clear: If you don't bend to our will we'll consider you phony, traitors, irrelevant, etc. For any of you "Dittoheads" to try to defend this vile and disgusting hypocrite who does opposite of everything he claims goes to the heart of my argument: that you act like robots parroting and defending this discredited stain on the good name of America. "Dittos Rush". Yeah. That's code word from the robots sending a signal to the mothership that the robot is still a robot, incapable of forming an independent oppionon.

    October 3, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. Corbett, Seattle WA

    Senator Reid just blew my mind again. I had no idea that Limbaugh was as a-whole. I have a question for every Democrat backing this "firestorm"? What is to gain by this? They are going after the right wing equivalent of Jon Stewart, thus turning a throw away joke into a mobilization of Limbaughs trailer trash contingent. And for what.

    They have no authority to get him off the air. And if they did, it would be to the horror of all of the Civil Rights activists the donate to MoveOn.org. Amateur, stupid and reactionary. I don't know why these guys think they have the right to save us from Bush.

    October 3, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Kendo Shinichi - Youngstown, OH

    Yup, more WORDS. Free, meaningless words. Limbaugh and MoveOn both exaggerate and use extremes, yet market themselves exclusively to left-wing and right-wing nutjobs. The vast majority of voters fall somewhere in the middle. I like to think they're more impressed by actions and constructive criticism, rather than repeated bashing.

    And please- Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press aren't just phrases casually tossed around, only to be ignored out of taboo during wartime. During a war, when stress and challenges upon the United States' philosophy are at their peak - this is when our liberties need to be defended and expressed most. Limbaugh and MoveOn can say whatever they want, and should feel free to do so without calls for their censorship. You whiners need to get over yourselves... on BOTH sides.

    October 3, 2007 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    Anyone who thinks this pathetic postering by the Democrats is anything other than an attempted counter-attack in response to the heat they took for the MoveOn.Org disaster is not logically gifted.

    It's actually just kind of sad watching the Dem's flail at Conservative radio hosts like Limbaugh and O'Reilly. Not that it would matter anyway (if these people had anything to do with the Republican party) but all you have to do is listen to the entire sequences and you can tell that the charges by the Democrats are just trumped up.

    I would hope that someone of Harry Reid's stature would be able to find something a little more meaningful to dedicate his time towards, but I guess with the lowest approval rating of any political body in the history of this country your choices are pretty limited.

    October 3, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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