Media Matters has criticized me for my recent comments about Rush Limbaugh’s so-called “phony soldier” statement. On the Fox News Channel, I said that “about 30 seconds” after Rush used the term “phony soldier” he began talking about Jesse MacBeth (the war critic who lied about his military record). According to Media Matters, it is actually one minute and fifty seconds later: I was off by eighty seconds.
This hardly seems a critical distinction. If it wasn’t completely clear who Rush was referring to when he used the initial phrase, it became clear shortly thereafter. I hadn’t timed the lapse between the “phony soldier” term and the start of his next “Jesse MacBeth” statement—in the midst of a heated conversation, I used the term “thirty seconds” when what I really meant was “a short period of time later.” However in hindsight, given Media Matters’ increasingly desperate efforts to save face, I ought to have been more precise.
So let’s get more precise, because there is far more to the timeline of the “phony soldier” term than just these noted calls to Limbaugh’s program.
On Wednesday, September 24th, Rush Limbaugh recorded his Morning Update, which aired the following morning. He talked about how the antiwar left had made another celebrity of "Army Ranger" Jesse MacBeth, who claimed to have witnessed gruesome atrocities committed by American soldiers in Iraq. It turned out that MacBeth wasn’t really an army ranger, and has since been sentenced for falsifying his Army records. [The Morning Update] Also, on the evening of September 24th, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson [video] aired a package on military imposters, which used the phrase “phony heroes” three times and “phonies” once, and specifically discussed Jesse MacBeth. [link]