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