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. Trollmaster, CA

    Rush can easily clear this up in 20 seconds by admitting there are real Iraq war veterans opposed to the Iraq war. What's so hard about that?

    Until he does this I'll have less respect for him than I already did.

    October 3, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Mike, Temecula

    Mr. Mays is right, Rush should be given the benefit of the doubt. It's not like he has a history of attacking and demonizing people just because they don't share his views.

    October 3, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Todd, Dover NH

    I absolutely love reading the comments on these blogs. You get the "left" wingers calling the "right" wingers out for doing something and vice versa. Both sides use the same argments, invectives, insults and "facts" to prove their points. Both sides come out of the fracas looking hypocritical, but their supporters refuse to acknowledge the fact that *gasp* there might be a possibility that both sides are wrong, and, in contrast, both sides have things they are right about.

    Wake up America. Learn how to think for yourselves and don't just assume that everything you read on the internet, see on Fox or CNN or hear on talk radio is Gospel. Learn critical thinking. Have multiple news sources. Question question question. As long as the majority of the population are sheeple, there will never be any real change in this country.

    -Todd, a liberally consertive independant

    October 3, 2007 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. John, Denver, CO

    It's truly amazing that the conservatives can get all worked up over an ad such as the one from Move On.org but give a free pass to their water carriers such as Rush, Bill O'Reilly & Ann Coulter who do things that are worse. Oh well... at least I know who the hypocrites are.

    October 3, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Michael Phillips, Everett WA

    Does anyone really listen to Rush (the epitome of phony) Limbaugh anymore? It's not hard to understand why he is so angry. I'd be mad too if I was that doped up.

    October 3, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. James

    Rush Limbrain, Geo. Bush and Dick Cheney need to fit their Repective Asses to an M2 Rifle and LEAD the Charge in "Iraqi Front" ala, Teddy Roosevelt. You Know, Walk the Talk!

    October 3, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. David, Dallas Tx

    J. Shaw said: With all the criticism that the military has withstood over the course of the last several years, it is outrageous that a comment such as this should even be considered to be newsworthy. It is so obvious that there is a bigger political objective that motivated the Senate's respose ....

    You act like there was no bigger political objectives which motivated Rush. Pot, meet Kettle.

    Those in government... have no clue the force they will unleash if they tamper with free speech. The fury over the immigration bill....

    Get real. Nobody's calling for a restriction of free speech. If you say something idiotic, the Bill of Rights doesn't protect you from criticism.

    I have to point out that if criticism of what was said constitutes an attack on the Right of Free Speech, then you, my friend, are guilty. As often as conservative hypocrisy is pointed out on this forum, one would think conservatives would be a little more cautious with their comments.

    Fortunately, us liberals understand that the Bill of Rights protects Rush's right to spew his idiocy, the Senate's right to waste time taking stances against it, and your right to make ridiculous hyperbolic criticisms about that.

    I hate Rush, but he's in the right of it here–his comments were taken out of context. His boss is right to back him on this. And the Senate is foolish to waste time on such a non-issue.

    October 3, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Mike, Cleveland, Ohio

    1.Limbaugh, while trying to defend himself, doctored his own comments and erased 1:35 out of the recording from his website. Can anybody say NIXON?

    2.He used “Phony soldiers” plural, slip of the tongue, perhaps. But it was nearly 2 minutes between the talk of phony soldiers and Jessie MacBeth. Now I know what some will say, “2 minutes isn’t a lot of time”. Yes it is, when talk radio is involved, 2 minutes is a life time.

    Welcome to politics folks, I would rather see the senate get down to the business of the people instead of going tit-for-tat. First, Sen. John Cornyn (R. Texas) sponsers the MoveOn.org condemnation, which passes with 20 Dems supporting the condemnation. Then the Dems fight back trying to condemn the SBVT for the lies told about Kerry; and now onto Limbaugh. Regardless of how you feel, politically, it is time to give it a rest. There are no winners and the losers are the american public.

    October 3, 2007 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Laurence, Newport News, Va

    Oh, and we're supposed to believe anything this whatever you call him has to say in favor of Rush?! Give me a break. He's his getting rich boss from his hateful arrogant lie telling self. Enough said.

    October 3, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. Fran Murray, Jacksonville, FL

    This is a personal vendictive attack on Limbaugh because he is not a liberal! Thank you, Mark Mays for supporting him. Reid should be forced to resign. It it had been a Republican senator who said what Reid said, that person would have to resign. Fair game!

    October 3, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Ed,Ellenville,New York

    CNN played the bit and it was certainly an insult to any soldier that spoke up against the war. Any of you who didn't hear it that way needs remedial english help. That's not surprising with the brain research showing such significant areas of inactivity in conservatives' brains. "Special education" ring a bell?

    October 3, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Anonymous, Wilmington, NC

    Yet again, our country's leaders care more about "who said what" and "who it offends", instead of getting the job done. To me, it looks like kids in a playground who need to "tattle tale" because another kid has said something wrong.

    October 3, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Laura - Tulsa, OK

    Thanks, J Shaw. I concur that this latest attack on free speech is similar to the Don Imus incident. Sharpton and Jackson cannot STAND that Imus gets great ratings and their own shows are low-rated, so they want to FORCE onto the airwaves their points-of-view and limit Imus'(even tho the free market shows that listeners want Imus/don't want Sharpton/Jackson).

    Reid and the Dems cannot stand that Rush Limbaugh gets top ratings and want to FORCE him off the Armed Forces Radio, but won't admit it. So they're using this incident as a "reason."

    October 3, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. KayAr

    What special qualities do you need to make a fool of yourself in a career of talking "strong" about aspects of the U.S. military when you are someone who never served. What is it about guys like O'Reilly, Hannity, Boortz, Beck, and Limbaugh that make them think they are credible when it comes to knowing what it is like to be soldier at war. They are cheerleaders at best, angry white American men who in their rhetoric reveal their type to be the kind that never had strong athletic careers or social lives in high school or college. No one looked up to those people then, so why should we now? They also do not appear to be the kind to be able to "hack" the true discipline and sacrifices needed for a reputable military career - which in my opinion further hurts their attempts to build images as combative experts. I've served in the military (during Gulf War I), was a high school and college athlete, and enjoyed a fufilling social life in both experiences. All of these guys simply need to shut-up about this subject and stop making a fool of themselves.

    October 3, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  15. Robert, Denver, CO

    Responding to Limbaugh just gives him credibility, which is a waste of energy – why play to this blowhard? Who listens to this guy anymore? He's lost all credibility since he became a drug addict and broke the law to feed his habit – a hypocrite of the highest order. Has anyone noted that this guy hasn't had an original thought in 10 years. He spews the same nonsense day after day. Democrats – there's much more important than responding to this nut.

    October 3, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. ronnie - knoxville, tn.

    It's so obvious that this is all about the Fairness Doctrine. Picture "researchers" huddled over their desks- like Scrooge shifting his eyes, waiting for Bob Cratchit- listening to every word Rush Limbaugh, et. al. utters. Then they pounce on the first word that might just help them in their pathetic mission to reinstate the socialist manifesto that is the Fairness Doctrine.

    October 3, 2007 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Justin, Ada OK


    Do they really have nothing better to do? Forget legislating to improve this country. Why don't we just waste time and money on the likes of Al Frankin, Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern...why not Jerry Springer?

    Democrats: we gave you congress. What have you done?

    October 3, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. Terry, El Paso, TX

    "Perhaps the CEO can explain how Rush avoided the draft. I would like to know, because I went in his place. Well, maybe not me personally, but someone did." – Posted By Robert, Galena, Illinois

    I went in his place, perhaps. I was drafted in 1970 but was not assigned to Viet Nam, thank goodness.

    Back then, we were ALL trying to get out of the draft. Many children who were born in the late 60's and early 70's were conceived solely for the purpose of exempting their father from the draft. If you are 30-40 years old now, you may only be alive only because of Viet Nam, though your father will never admit to it. Many graduate degrees were pursued only to keep the young scholar out of that disaster.

    By the 70's, it was obvious that Dick Nixon was only going to keep the fight going in Viet Nam until he was reelected by a landslide. Sure enough, he declared victory and withdrew the troops after he defeated poor McGovern. White House recordings verify that Nixon and Kissinger both thought the war was idiotic and should have never been started. Nixon stated plainly, but not publicly, that he was going to end that war after his reelection.

    None of us wanted to be the last poor grunt to die in a war that our leadership did not believe in. I don't know who that last poor herowas, but he died for absolutely no reason except to reelect Richard Nixon.

    As an honest Liberal, I must say that the Viet Nam war was the greatest of all the failures of Liberalism; a bigger disaster than the current disaster in Iraq. At this time, Viet Nam is the most stable of only three remaining Communist nations, the other two being Cuba (the last country left behind the Iron Curtain) and Communist China (the nation that our political and business leaders cannot do enough for). Many good men and women died in Viet Nam for nothing.

    You johnny-come-latelies who want to measure a fifty-year-old man's patriotism by whether he took a draft deferment when he was twenty are pretty damn nervy unless you yourself are a former draftee or a combat veteran. I know you imagine how heroically you would have served, but how would you feel if you or your child got a draft notice today?

    October 3, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. Dave Valentine, Garner NC

    Within past hour (2:01pm EST 10/3/07)

    Rush Limbaugh: "I have never impugned the service of any member of the military for any reason, no matter what their opinion was on anything."

    Rush has routinely disparaged John Kerry. Within the past week he's run a song parody wherein "Kerry" sings about getting injured "throwing a hand-grenade at rice."

    It's remarkable the lies Stinkbo fans have to believe in order to think he's 'always right.'

    He's a staunch supporter of military action, but when he had the chance to serve in Vietnam, he made an effort to avoid it (certainly didn't volunteer.) But you have to remember, for the right-wingers, words always speak louder that actions. (Cheney- 5 deferments, Larry 'wide stance' Craig, Ted Haggard etc, etc.)

    October 3, 2007 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. Isaac New York NY

    Rush should know, I mean he did serve all those years in the military. Oh wait..

    October 3, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. Mark, Roseville, CA

    I listened to the segment of that broadcast the DAY it happened. Those who think the drug-addled Limbaugh was talking about one soldier need to take either remedial listening, or objective listening courses.

    Firstly, there was no mention of that one particular "soldier" in question until an entire 1:38 minutes elapsed after the initial comment. There was NO established context concerning only one soldier. When he did finally start talking about this soldier, it was in a concilitory tone almost bordering on apologetic. It is clear that Limbaugh's handlers in the studio got a message to him that he had better clear that statement up. Bottom line: He covered it up AFTER the fact. He meant what he said. The context of what he originally said was very obviously pointed to ALL troops who don't support HIS opinion. Also, why did he cut out that 1:38 on his website when putting up the link to that segment? Sounds defensive and dishonest to me.

    Sorry neo-con Limbaugh followers. He blew it, and if you think the MoveOn vote was justified, then you folks are as much the definition of hypocrisy than I ever previously imagined.

    October 3, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Rene, Jacksonville, Florida

    Right, so I am not the biggest fan of Rush. I'm an old school liberal (one that might not agree what he says but would definitely fight for his right to say it), but come on here. Any body that actually listens to his show would know how often he praises our troops and would automatically know that "phony soldiers" was taken out of context. It honestly would not make sense for Rush to say something so defamitory about the men and women he praises each day.

    October 3, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. J Butler, Nashville, Tenn.

    I usually laugh at whatever Limbaugh and his ilk say. I don't consider them any different than Stephen Colbert. I think it's mostly just an act or character they play to get attention and ratings. What scares me are the gullible rubes who listen and obey to everything right-wing (or left-wing, for that matter) radio tells them.

    October 3, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Marie,Denver, Colorado

    Cheap Channel can only hope their drugged up pill pushing thug keeps on going, Mark May needs all the money he can get to give to the RNC! The comments made were insulting and if May were any kind of 'man' (which he isn't) he would have Rush apologize. Don't you all hold your breath!

    October 3, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  25. Scott Lightsey, Austin TX

    This thread exposes the alarming truth of how well the political leaders of this country are succeding in their goal to keep Americans divided. We, the citizens of the United States, are the losers here. The vast majority of us, are not wealthy and are doing all we can to stay afloat. The politicians of this great country are the problem. They are the wealthy, and elite who continually come up with ways to make them more wealthy and more elite on our dime. Folks, stop for a moment, and look at what you are arguing over. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. That's it! Nothing more. Those that oppose what he said are elected officials who are supposed to work for the citizens of this country. Tell me what exactly we are accomplishing by trying to get this entertainer person to apologize for something he said? These are your political leaders. Why are they so involved with this? It doesn't matter if it's democrat or republican. Both disgust me! Neither party cares about this country. If they did, don't you think one of them could have turned this country around and get it going in the right direction? Do you think either have done that? I don't. We spend billions of dollars in Iraq, while our bridges collapse due to poor maintenance. Governor Rick Perry (Texas) is paying $9,900 a month in rent while the governor's "Mansion" is being renovated. Why is that a necessary expense? Yes, that is your tax dollars at work. The bottom line is, it's not up to the government to fix our problems. For the past half century they have proven neither party can fix anything. Only make it worse. The sad truth is, as long as they keep us divided on issues that don't matter, things will only get worse, and the separation between the ruling class and the working class will only get wider. United we stand, divided we fall.

    Rick Perry's new pad.

    October 3, 2007 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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