Neely Tucker, writing in the Washington Post’s Style section, has produced a deeply misleading account of the Rush Limbaugh-Harry Reid letter flap. Mark Hemingway provides the details.
First, Tucker claims that Limbaugh called troops who are against the war in Iraq “phony soldiers.” Actually Limbaugh directed that phrase against those war critics who falsely claim to be soldiers. Second, Tucker sniffs that Limbaugh “decided he had been smeared.” But being accused of attacking real soldiers, as opposed to the phony ones he attacked, constitutes a smear by any reasonable account. If Tucker has decided to interpret Limbaugh’s statement as attacking anyone other than fake soldiers, he should quote Limbaugh’s statement in full, and make his case. Tucker doesn’t because he can’t make the case and, hey, he’s just writing for the Style section anyway. (No one but a hard-core liberal is likely to believe a report in the Post’s Style section that takes a pro-Democrat slant. The same may soon be true of the Post’s natiional and international news pages).
Next, Tucker proclaims that, once Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats signed a letter protesting Limbaugh’s comments (as mischaracterized by Reid and company), “that should have been the end.” But if Limbaugh had ended it there, a contribution in excess of $4 million to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation would not have been made. Even Harry Reid says that this contribution a good thing. Why does it bother Tucker?
The answer may reside in Tucker’s conclusion to the piece:
The foundation has awarded more than $27 million in scholarships to children of slain troops and law enforcement officers, Kallstrom [the head of the foundatino] said, as well as support money for disabled veterans and their families.
“But we’re not political at all,” he said.
Hemingway reads this as a suggestion by Tucker that the chairman of the charity is being disingenuous in stating that his group is not political. If that’s Tucker’s meaning, it explains why he thought the Limbaugh-Reid matter should have ended with Reid’s letter.
This is not the first time that Tucker has displayed a disregard for the facts. As we noted here, back in 2005 Tucker reported that a satirical version of “Sweet Home Alabama” had been performed at the annual Gridiron dinnner in Washington D.C. Tucker also described the audience’s reaction to the performance. The problem was that the skit, which was was supposed to be about Armstrong Williams accepting money from the Department of Education in connection with his support for No Child Left Behind, never took place. Tucker had been told that it would occur and simply invented the audience reaction. The Post had to correct this error, along with two others in the same story.
I don’t know about phony soldiers, but Tucker stakes a good claim to being a phony reporter.
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