05/18/04 — Offended: Rush Limbaugh reacts to newspaper criticism

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Offended: Rush Limbaugh reacts to newspaper criticism

Rush Limbaugh is a conservative radio commentator whose show includes chats with telephone callers, interspersed between his own strident, but often sensible, observations. Limbaugh is a witty fellow, and his show is fun to hear.

The choice targets of his acerbic comments are liberals and people in the media. If you happen to be one of those, you probably won’t enjoy his show.

Just now, Limbaugh is engaged in a spat with the Palm Beach Post in Florida, where he lives.

The Post criticized Limbaugh for pooh-poohing the abuse of prisoners of war in Iraq. He had said that what was done to them was not much more than the hazing that is done to initiates to Skull and Bones, the secret society at Yale University. The Post said Limbaugh “excused the inexcusable.”

Few papers react to Limbaugh’s comments. Liberal ones don’t do it because it would only increase his exposure and credibility. Conservative ones don’t because they usually agree with him.

(Limbaugh seldom acknowledges that there is such a thing as a conservative paper, but the fact that he tends to paint all media with the same brush is beside the point.)

The commentator has criticized the Palm Beach Post in an ad that he ran in the Post and another paper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The ad was mainly an effort to tell his side of a legal squabble, and it included a favorable editorial that had appeared in the Washington Times. The ad said the Post reporting on the matter had been one-sided, and it said the Post had attacked his comments about the prison abuse unfairly.

The legal squabble goes back to Limbaugh’s admission that he was addicted to prescription pain killers, as had been reported to authorities by a maid. The government sought to seize Limbaugh’s medical records, but the commentator’s lawyers went to court to stop them. The case is still pending.

In that matter, Limbaugh appears to be in the right and the Post, which sides with the prosecutors, is wrong. He has not been charged with any crime, and the scrutiny of his doctors’ records would be a violation of his privacy. Even the American Civil Liberties Union, which rarely agrees with conservatives, says so.

But in his criticism of the Post for condemning his statements about the prison abuse, Limbaugh is wrong. Cer-tainly he is entitled to express his opinion about the scandal, but the Post is just as entitled to disagree with him.

Limbaugh shows no mercy when he decides that someone else should be excoriated for voicing a mistaken view. You’ve heard the expression: If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

Published in Editorials on May 18, 2004 11:26 AM