FAIR REPORT DOCUMENTS 'LIMBAUGH'S REIGN OF ERROR' Responding to President Clinton, Rush Li

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From: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting FAIR REPORT DOCUMENTS "LIMBAUGH'S REIGN OF ERROR" Responding to President Clinton, Rush Limbaugh recently declared himself a "truth detector." In a FAIR report that went to the printer well before the Limbaugh/Clinton dispute, Limbaugh is exposed as a perpetual source of disinformation. The compilation of inaccuracies, while not exhaustive, clearly demonstrates Limbaugh's ignorance and/or dishonesty on a variety of issues. From AIDS to ozone, from Whitewater to the Bible, Limbaugh seems to be able to dissemble and disinform on virtually any subject. A few examples: ON TOBACCO: "It has not been proven that nicotine is addictive." (The surgeon general has issued a 618-page proof.) ON CONDOMS: "The condom failure rate can be as high as 20 percent. Would you get on a plane...if one in five passengers would be killed on the flight?" (The National Institutes of Health cite studies that show that the proper use of condoms provides nearly 100 percent protection against AIDS between couples with one HIV-positive partner.) ON CANADIAN-STYLE MEDICINE: "Most Canadian physicians who are themselves in need of surgery...scurry across the border to get it done right: the American way." (Nearly all Canadian doctors, of course, are treated in Canada.) ON POVERTY: "The poorest people in America are better off than the mainstream families of Europe." (Not even close.) ON WOMEN: "Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along." (Before feminism, women couldn't even vote.) ON JESSE JACKSON: "Anytime the illegitimacy rate in black America is raised, Reverend Jackson and other black 'leaders' immediately change the subject." (Jackson and other black leaders have been talking about and against "children having children" for years.) ON THE IRAN-CONTRA INVESTIGATION: "There is not one indictment. There is not one charge." (By the time Limbaugh said this, there had been 14 indictments--most of which resulted in convictions or guilty pleas.) ON CHELSEA CLINTON'S GRADE SCHOOL: "A recent 8th grade class assignment required students to write a paper on 'Why I Feel Guilty Being White.'" (It never happened.) FAIR gathered these and many other examples of Limbaugh getting it wrong -- from his TV and radio show, from his books and from published quotations -- because of Limbaugh's unique position in broadcasting. No other broadcaster reaches so many people with so little in the way of balancing views: Few non-"dittoheads" get on the air on his radio show, and his TV talk show is just him giving a monologue to a cheering audience. His partisan political orations air daily on more than 200 TV and 600 radio stations, reaching millions of people a week. To transform Limbaugh's error-filled monologues into a debate, FAIR's magazine EXTRA! has set out Limbaugh's claims in a "Limbaugh vs. Reality" format. It pits the broadcaster against rebuttals in the form of facts, figures and experts from such institutions as the Pentagon, the National Institutes of Health, etc. -- experts who never get to challenge Limbaugh on the air. While Limbaugh's misstatements are rarely challenged on his own shows, what's equally disturbing is that they frequently go unchallenged in national media. Mainstream journalists have failed to give sufficient scrutiny to Limbaugh, often dismissing the content of what he says by calling him an "entertainer." However, news outlets like Nightline have featured Limbaugh as an "expert" on various topics. Two months after Limbaugh's ridiculous claim (in February '94) that the New York Times had never run a story on Whitewater -- a story the Times broke during the '92 campaign -- Limbaugh was invited by Ted Koppel's Viewpoint as an expert on "press coverage of Whitewater." A U.S. News & World Report article declared that "the information Limbaugh provides is generally accurate." Limbaugh says that when he's wrong, he corrects his errors "as loudly as I can." In fact, he hardly ever admits his falsehoods. But if he wants to clear the air, there's a simple way: Replace the monologue with debate. FAIR challenges Limbaugh to a debate on his credibility in a forum of his choice. And we challenge TV and radio broadcasters to encourage Limbaugh to take part in such a debate on their airwaves. ACTION: Each TV or radio station that carries Limbaugh has a responsibility to the community it serves. It is, in fact, a condition of their licenses. They are accountable if they broadcast fabrications. They must find a way to correct the record if they allow Limbaugh to spew falsehoods. Contact the station manager of your local Limbaugh outlets. Let them know you take Limbaugh's disinformation seriously...and so should they. An obvious antidote to Limbaugh's brand of distortion would be to replace the monologues with genuine debate. That would give the facts a chance -- and provide some political balance. When you call radio stations, you could note that stations can provide some debate and balance by broadcasting the talkshows hosted by populist Jim Hightower and iconoclast Jerry Brown -- two hosts who do not seem to be allergic to the facts. When calling both TV and radio stations, you might also suggest that the station managers call on Limbaugh to debate FAIR. -- + 212-675-9690 NY TRANSFER NEWS COLLECTIVE 212-675-9663 + + Since 1985: Information for the Rest of Us + + GET INFO from ftpmail%transfr@blythe.org + + e-mail: nyt@blythe.org info: info@blythe.org + ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ... The Religious Right, where hatred is a Family Value!

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