Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
A top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives is angrily denying a report claiming he’s investigating Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk-show hosts, but the magazine which made the allegation is not issuing any retraction.
“The American Spectator report is completely false and was written without any documentation or attribution,” said Rep. Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
“There is not now nor has there ever been any investigation of this subject. The American Spectator should immediately retract its report and apologize for the confusion its fictitious report has caused.”
But the American Spectator is not backing down.
“We stand by the story, simple as that,” Wlady Pleszczynski, editorial director of the magazine, told WND. “Of course Waxman would deny it. The idea to announce it in public would be politically suicidal.”
On Monday in its anonymous Washington Prowler section, the Spectator reported:
Rep. Henry Waxman has asked his investigative staff to begin compiling reports on Limbaugh, and fellow radio hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin based on transcripts from their shows, and to call in Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to discuss the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”
“Limbaugh isn’t the only one who needs to be made uncomfortable about what he says on the radio,” says a House leadership source. “We don’t have as big a megaphone as these guys, but this all political, and we’ll do what we can to gain the advantage. If we can take them off their game for a while, it will help our folks out there on the campaign trail.”
While Waxman calls the story a “hoax,” Pleszczynski told WND this kind of House probe is typical “inside operations” on Capitol Hill, and said Waxman “obviously plays hard.”
Limbaugh, the highest-rated talker in America, learned of Waxman’s denial during his program today, and said there needs to be an investigation of the alleged investigation.
“Maybe some of Waxman’s staff said, ‘We’re going to investigate,’ and Waxman didn’t know it for plausible deniability. Who knows? We need to get to the bottom of this.”
In his typical irreverent fashion, Limbaugh added: “We need to look at this the way the Democrats look at such allegations and charges, and that is that the nature of the evidence is really not material. It’s the seriousness of the charge. That’s how they looked at Anita Hill versus Clarence Thomas. …
“It’s a pretty serious charge that the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee is going to compile reports and conduct investigations of private citizens who work on the radio.”
Limbaugh has been topping news headlines since last week, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Limbaugh’s use of the phrase “phony soldiers” was an attack on all U.S. troops who happened to oppose the war in Iraq.
A transcript from Limbaugh’s Sept. 26 show suggests the “phony soldiers” remark specifically addressed the case of Jesse MacBeth, an anti-war activist who claimed to have witnessed atrocities as a Purple Heart recipient in the Army Rangers.
MacBeth, however, never served in Iraq. He was expelled from the military after 44 days in uniform.
Nevertheless, Reid last week sent a letter, signed by 41 Democrats, to Clear Channel Chief Executive Officer Mark P. Mays demanding he repudiate Limbaugh’s comments and extract an apology from him. Mays responded the same day in a letter to Reid defending Limbaugh’s right to express his opinions openly on the airwaves.
Limbaugh called Reid’s speech “Kafkaesque,” noting he had just finished an interview with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, “talking about the lies and stuff spread about him during his confirmation hearings, and now I, little old private citizen, Rush Limbaugh, the subject of Senate action, the subject today of House of Representatives action, all based on a purposely told lie, which they know is a lie, and yet they are persisting in this.”
Many elected officials, mostly Democrats, expressed their displeasure with talk radio following the defeat of what President Bush called his “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” legislation – a plan characterized by many talkers as “amnesty.” There were a number of calls for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine – which has also been called the “Hush Rush” bill.
The 41 Democratic senators who signed the challenge to Limbaugh’s network were:
- Harry Reid, majority leader
- Richard Durbin, assistant majority leader
- Charles Schumer, vice chairman, Democratic Conference
- Patty Murray, secretary, Democratic Conference
- Daniel Akaka
- Max Baucus
- Joseph Biden
- Barbara Boxer
- Sherrod Brown
- Robert Byrd
- Benjamin Cardin
- Tom Carper
- Bob Casey
- Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Kent Conrad
- Christopher Dodd
- Byron Dorgan
- Dianne Feinstein
- Tom Harkin
- Daniel Inouye
- Edward M. Kennedy
- John Kerry
- Amy Klobuchar
- Mary Landrieu
- Frank Lautenberg
- Patrick Leahy
- Carl Levin
- Blanche Lincoln
- Bob Menendez
- Barbara Mikulski
- Bill Nelson
- Barack Obama
- Jack Reed
- Jay Rockefeller
- Ken Salazar
- Bernie Sanders
- Debbie Stabenow
- Jon Tester
- Jim Webb
- Sheldon Whitehouse
- Ron Wyden
In another example of government officials going after talk radio programming, last week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors condemned nationally syndicated host Michael Savage for comments he made about illegal aliens. They characterized his remarks as “hate speech.”
As WND reported, one radio station in Oregon decided to “hush Rush” for a day and replace Monday’s talk program with music after receiving some requests from local listeners.
“I guarantee you, our audience doesn’t like listening to Perry Como,” Paul Mitchell of KAST Radio said.
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