Conservative commentators’ twisting of truth

By Molly Keith

When a journalist publishes or broadcasts a story without conducting accurate research, retribution is expected. How can a story be credible if the information or sources behind it aren’t verified or concrete? In many cases, when a journalist makes this mistake, his or her credibility is forever questioned once the truth has surfaced. But what happens when political commentators don’t do their research? Aren’t they often heard by the public as much as journalists, if not more? During the past few years, it appears more conservative Republican than liberal Democrat commentators have not bothered with serious research in order to twist the truth. And most recently, the perpetrator was every radical conservative’s wet dream—Rush Limbaugh.

As previously commented on by The Chronicle on Oct. 24, President Barack Obama released a statement authorizing the deployment of 100 U.S. troops to Uganda on Oct. 14 to assist regional forces’ effort to shut down the Lord’s Resistance Army, a violent militant group led by Joseph Kony in Uganda and South Sudan that abducts, rapes, murders and cannibalizes people in the name of an unusual combination of religions. The group has been reported on ever since its birth more than 25 years ago, so when Limbaugh decided to put in his crazed two cents on his radio show that aired on Oct. 14, according to the New York Times, he should’ve been aware of exactly what the Lord’s Resistance Army was and what they do.

Instead, he decided to editorialize on the group and Obama’s wise decision simply by looking at the name of the evil army and equating “Lord” with Christianity.

“LRA are Christians. [Lord] means God,” he said, according to online transcripts and recordings of his show. “Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting Muslims in Sudan.”

As Limbaugh continued, he accused Obama’s order of deployment as a means of continuing his war against Christians. He said that by sending the forces, this “Christian” army would be obliterated in order to help Muslims in Sudan thrive.

Looking at Limbaugh’s background, one would expect him to jump at any opportunity to condemn Obama and portray him as a Christian-hating Muslim-lover. But what bothers me most was his lack of research on the LRA. His passion against Obama caused him to sympathize with the army so that he could bash the president. As a result, he sounded like a lunatic.

“The LRA is being accused of really bad stuff? Child kidnapping, murder, that kind of stuff?” he asked after being informed of the army’s true disposition. “Well, we just found out about this today. We’re gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it.”

Oh, silly Limbaugh. Don’t you think you should’ve done that before you went on the air and made yourself out to be even more of an idiot than you already are? It makes me sick to hear someone who has that much authority back up a murderous group.

Apparently, it irked conservative commentator Erick Erickson as well. His political blog, RedState.com, responded to Limbaugh’s stupidity with obvious distaste: “The people hearing the name assume it is a Christian group fighting radical Islamists in the Sudan or some such. It is no such thing.” According to Erickson, the LRA was declared a terrorist group by George W. Bush in 2001.

Other GOP commentators are guilty of the same thing. According to MediaMatters.org, FOX News had to correct Bill O’Reilly’s transcript of false claims in 2006 concerning World War II. In 2009, Sarah Palin made a similar mistake on her Facebook, claiming Obama’s health care reform contained a “death panel”—a group that assesses one’s value to society to decide who is worthy of health care.

In the end, these commentators don’t care whom they hurt and what facts they mangle. What matters, in their eyes, is convincing the public to join their side, even if it requires outright lying and ignorance of the truth. Perhaps the most discouraging part of all is the people who take their words as truth.

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