On Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann labeled Rush Limbaugh as the day's "Worst Person in the World!" in a segment that airs regularly on his 8pm EDT Countdown show. He normally introduces three nominees for the dishonor -- tagged as "worse," "worser," and "worst." Olbermann took Limbaugh out of context in highlighting the Limbaugh quote promoted by a far-left group: “Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real." Olbermann snidely quipped: "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business." He also gratuitously speculated that "painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics." (Video available Windows Media or Real Media)
But on his radio show on Wednesday, Limbaugh had already discussed the fact that his comments had been taken out of context by others, explaining that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are."
Full CyberAlert item follows. For all the articles in today's MRC CyberAlert.
(MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth drafted a version of this item for NewsBusters.org, but it never it made it online overnight, so I’ve moved forward with my version, based on his.)
The complete transcript of Olbermann's comments about Limbaugh are below, followed by Limbaugh's original comment from his Monday show along with his explanation from Wednesday of how his words were taken out of context:
Keith Olbermann, August 17 Countdown, over a picture of Limbaugh below a “World’s Worst” heading: "But the winner, oh, it's the irrepressible Rush Limbaugh. On the radio, he said, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real,' unquote. I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business. He also referred to her supporters as 'dope-smoking FM types.' I guess the painkillers wipe out your memory along with your ethics. Rush Limbaugh, today's 'Worst Person in the World'!"
Though Olbermann failed to disclose his left-wing source, Media Matters for America put into play the August 15 Limbaugh quote, which they posted on their site under the headline, "Limbaugh baselessly compared Cindy Sheehan to Bill Burkett." But even their out of context brief quotation showed that, contrary to Olbermann's distortion, Limbaugh was talking about Sheehan in the framework of how the left and the media are exploiting her for their Bush-bashing agenda: "I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left."
For the Media Matters for America item.
Wednesday on his radio show, Limbaugh explained: "What I said was the media looks at her the same way they look at Bill Burkett: as an opportunity. It didn't matter whether Burkett was telling the truth or not and it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are. She is protesting Bush, Burkett hated Bush. That's why they're attractive to the media and that's why the media is willing to exploit her."
That Wednesday Limbaugh quote was not part of the transcribed highlights posted on Limbaugh’s Web site, but I had heard it live and so tracked it down by playing back the posted audio from his second hour.