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Walter E. Williams: Talk radio is a painful thorn in the sides of leftist Americans

The major news media no longer have the monopoly they once enjoyed. The way millions of Americans get their news and news analysis is through talk radio. The Rush Limbaugh Show stands at the very top of talk radio, carried on more than 650 radio stations and listened to by an estimated 20 million people each week. As an occasional fill-in for Rush, and being a professor, I see the show as being my big classroom, but I learn a lot as well.

Over the span of some 20 years, Limbaugh has been attacked from just about every leftist corner, as would anyone who tirelessly espoused the founding principles of our nation — private property, rule of law and limited government. What has made Limbaugh so effective with this message has been his ability to express things, and ask questions, in a manner that the average citizen can understand and relate to, and do so with a bit of humor. Humor creates madness among leftists who want their interventionist agenda taken seriously.

Limbaugh's show, as well as many of his competitors' shows, has ended much of the isolation among Americans. For example, if you were against racial quotas, you were made to feel like a racist by the major media. With the growth of talk radio, people found out that they were not alone and that being against racial quotas didn't make one a racist. As such, talk radio has been a painful thorn in the sides of those whose agenda is to control the news and debate as a means to control our lives. This is why the priority agenda for leftists is to attack talk radio, and their biggest target is Limbaugh.

The latest attack from the left alleges that Limbaugh referred to our fighting men, who disagreed with our Middle East policy, as "phony soldiers." The truth of the matter is that Limbaugh was referring to people like Jesse Macbeth, who became the poster boy for the antiwar and antimilitary movement. Macbeth passed himself off as an Army Ranger and a Purple Heart recipient. He said he participated in gruesome war crimes with other U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. An investigation proved that none of his claims was true; he wasn't an Army Ranger or a Purple Heart recipient, and he didn't serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, he was kicked out of the Army after 44 days of boot camp.

Last September, Macbeth was sentenced to five months in jail and three years' probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record. Macbeth, idolized by the antiwar movement, is truly a despicable person. On a video translated into Arabic, for Middle East consumption, he said, "We would burn their bodies ... hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque."

False misrepresentation of oneself as a soldier has become so widespread that Congress enacted the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 to prosecute people posing as veterans. In fact, a Sept. 29 ABC News report by Charles Gibson did an expose on people such as Macbeth, and they were called "phony war heroes."

The members of Congress who are attacking Limbaugh know all of this, but they're trusting that the average American doesn't, so they can pull the rope-a-dope. By attacking Limbaugh, they hope to breathe some life into the Fairness Doctrine, which was repealed by a unanimous vote by the Federal Communications Commission in 1987. The doctrine, said the FCC, "restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters and actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists."

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is leading the charge in misrepresenting Limbaugh's phony soldier comment. In a few weeks, I shall have a column about phony congressmen and Harry Reid, and about 500 of his colleagues, is among them.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.