Friday, December 10, 2004

Rush to Judgment

Galley Friend M.L. sends along this transcript from Rush Limbaugh. M.L. says he's shocked that our friends in winger world were going to turn the welfare of soldiers into an LMB case, saying, "Al Franken hasn't been right about anything for 10 years, except for one thing: Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot." Here's what Limbaugh said yesterday:

Drudge has just splashed something fascinating. I don't want to--I probably shouldn't say this, but I want to say it because it's the honest truth. As you know, we have not talked about this on this program. We have not talked about this question, series of questions about armor on the vehicles that Rumsfeld got. We had audio yesterday, and in fact I was all prepared to have fun with it. I'll tell you what I was going to do. Here's the news. Apparently a reporter set up Rumsfeld, had a conversation with the soldier. The reporter was mad that Rumsfeld wasn't taking questions from the press, and so the reporter suggested these questions to the soldier, and the soldier asked the questions about lack of armor on vehicles that the reporter wanted to ask, but since Rumsfeld wasn't taking questions, he had no choice, and the journalist who engineered this says, "I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey north was delayed just long enough so I could attend a visit today here by Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions, so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts, soldiers. Beforehand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat had."

So the reporter set up Rumsfeld and suggested questions of the soldier. Remember, the soldier did not come up with these questions himself. Had it not been for the reporter the soldier would not have asked these questions. Now, I'm not telling you that I'm clairvoyant or anything of the sort. I just thought there was something about the story, just my instincts, I didn't go with this story yesterday because there's something about this that just struck me as odd. And what struck me odd about this was those of us who have employees, we all have meetings with them and we all let them blow off steam, but we do it in private. This stuff doesn't happen in public and it doesn't happen in the military. The soldier's wife is out there saying (paraphrasing), "Yeah, well, we voted for Bush and we're big gung-ho but it's just my husband. I just can't shut him up. I mean, he's going to ask what he wants to ask." He's a National Guard soldier. But it turns out here--that's what bugged me about this. This just doesn't happen. It just doesn't happen. You just don't see that kind of near insubordination among rank and file military to the secretary of defense.

I didn't talk about this, and I had no clue what the truth of this was. There was just something about it that rubbed me wrong, and I'm not going to help feed the fire with this because there's something about it. So I was going to work out a bit yesterday. In fact, I brought Snerdley in here, and I said, "You've seen this Rumsfeld story?" He said, "Oh, yeah." I said, "Well, I tell you, I want to do something. I want to have a little fun with this today." I said, "At some point I'm going to talk about this story and I'm going to bring you guys in here and say, 'Look, if it's a new policy now that employees have their bitch sessions in public, I'm going to bring you and Dawn and Brian in here and I want you to start complaining about the fact that the ice machine doesn't fill up every day, that you still have to sometimes wait for it, that your new 30-inch computer display monitor hasn't come in yet and you're still slaving away your 23-inch display," seventeen-inch display; sorry, Mr. Snerdley, and Dawn wanted to explain that the dishes in the dining room are not the right shade of white and gold that she ordered, and what are we going to do about it.

All these, you know, crazy complaints, because nobody that works here has any. They don't. (staffers grumbling) You don't have any complaints. (laughing) Mr. Snerdley really wants his 30-inch monitor. Seventeen inches is too small. Yeah, and he needs a high-definition TV. His 30-inch Sony Trinitron is old-fashioned. He was complaining about that to me the other day. So we were going to work this out, just to have fun with this because something about this just struck me as unusual. Well, I'm not sure yet who the reporter is. I'm still waiting on the information on that. I just have the first wave here, if you will, of Drudge exit polling data on this. (Laughing.) He just now splashed it up on his website, and so I wanted to pass this on to you. If you're just joining us, apparently--in fact, this is what the journalist actually wrote: "I just had one of one of my best days as journalist today. As luck would have it our journey north was delayed just long enough so I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of the soldiers along with me as my escort (sort of like an embed reporter here) and beforehand me and the soldiers worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat had."

So it seems safe to assume that had the reporter not be fishing around with the soldiers, that these questions might not have been asked. Now, don't get upset about this, folks. This is just another Dan Rather moment. This is the kind of thing that is happening. It may be a journalistic coup for this guy, but this is not the kind of story that the American people are going to stand up and say all of a sudden we hate Rumsfeld. Now, Maureen Dowd's column today, I think she got her Christmas present. This story was her Christmas present: This soldier standing up and complaining to Rumsfeld about the lack of armor on their vehicles. The first line in her column today, one of the first lines, blah, blah, blah. Well, it's somewhere. I can't find it, but she's just all excited that Rummy got hit. She is just thrilled to death that Rumsfeld got creamed, so she's got her Christmas present now. So it's "Gotcha!" It's gotcha journalism. It's exactly what I said at the beginning of the program. There's still this arrogance. There's still this condescension.

I think I'm with M.L.


Drew said...

Who are you talking about when you say "our friends in winger world" and what is LMB? Liberal Media Bias, I think, which would identify "our friends" as right-winger, perhaps. Sorry. I get confused by shorthand.

Even so, I don't think I'd call Limbaugh a big fat idiot over his remarks.

Limbaugh is just one of many commentators who wish to blame the reporter for apparently using his evil mind rays to control the soldier's brain. It's as if they assume this soldier had no free will to refuse to ask the reporter's question.

And so maybe we do agree.

But if Limbaugh is a big fat idiot for this, then he's got a lot of big fat company.

Anonymous said...

Come on! That was an outrageous setup. And the way the question was asked. If the soldier feels that strongly about the equipment, did he not try to make his complaints up the chain of command earlier? Read Maureen Dowd's ridiculous column about this. The was, again, a phony setup. Rummy handled it pretty well. LMB.

Drew said...

Okay, so maybe the reporter wanted to use the soldier to pull a gotcha on Rummy. But the soldier still asked the question. That's the sticking point for me.