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Senator Reid Foolishly Attacks Rush Limbaugh - and Loses

Updated on December 26, 2009

A Victory in the On Going Struggle for Freedom

October 28, 2007

On August 5, 1735 twelve jurors in the British colony of New York, defied the tyrannical Royal Governor William Cosby by returning a verdict of Not Guilty in the Governor's case against newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger.

Zenger had been accused of publishing what Governor Cosby considered to be seditious libels.

In reality, Zenger was guilty of printing articles critical of Cosby and his corrupt tenure as governor.

Zenger's trial and victory are a milestone in America's long tradition of a free press and our right to publish ideas and opinions of critical of those in power and their policies.

Senator Reid Attacks and Rush Responds

Recently, 272 years after Zenger's famous victory, another blow was struck for freedom of the press.

This time the victor was Conservative Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh defending himself against a veiled attempt by Senator Harry Reid and 40 of his left wing Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pressure Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications, into censoring Rush Limbaugh for comments made on his popular radio show.

Like former Royal Governor William Crosby, Senator Reid didn't like the fact that Rush Limbaugh was broadcasting the truth about a fraudulent leftist news report.

Rush Limbaugh Responding to Senator Reid

Rush Limbaugh on Jesse Macbeth

Jesse Macbeth in his Own Words

The Origins of the Controversy

Among the threats to freedom posed by big government is the use of the government's economic clout to silence opposition. It is not uncommon for tyrants in countries in which the forest and paper industries have been nationalized, to silence the independent press by refusing to sell them the paper they need to print on unless the press stops criticizing the government. The papers are still free and independent - they just have no way of publishing their independent views. With the advent of radio and television in the early 20th century, the U.S. government moved quickly to take possession of the broadcast band and, since then, has proceeded to lease segments via licensing arrangements to commercial users. As a result, when a valuable broadcast license is up for renewal, the owners of the license who, through their hard work, have created the value in their license, are at the mercy of politicians and bureaucrats who can award the license to someone else of their choosing. In light of this a suggestion from the Senate Majority Leader and forty of his fellow senators is really a thinly veiled threat to the business.

However Senator Reid's planned stab in the back for Rush Limbaugh, who has long been a major thorn in the side of the American left, suddenly blew up in his face when Mark Mays gave Rush the letter the letter from Senator Reid rather than the reprimand sought by Senator Reid. Rush immediately published the letter on his web page along with the signature pages containing the signatures of Reid and his forty fellow travelers (including Presidential hopeful Hillery Clinton) thereby exposing the letter to the public for what it really was - a blatant abuse of power by a bunch of senators seeking to silence their opposition.

Senator Harry Reid (Public Domain Photo courtesy of )
Senator Harry Reid (Public Domain Photo courtesy of ) | Source

The "Phony Soldier" Comment in Context

Jesse Macbeth - the "Phony" Soldier in Question

Doing an end run around the left leaning main stream media, which for the most part ignored the letter, Limbaugh publicly announced that he was going to auction the letter on eBay and donate the proceeds to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity that helps children of Marines killed in action. Going further, he also pledged to match, with his own money, whatever amount was raised on eBay.

The institution of the free press is too well established in the United States to be suddenly overthrown by the whim of some irate Senators even if they do currently hold a thin majority in Congress. There had to be some sort of reason behind the call for a reprimand of Rush Limbaugh. Grabbing at the first issue that came by, Senator Reid accused Rush Limbaugh of insulting our troops by referring to one of them who criticized the President's war policy as a phony soldier while talking to a caller. Without checking his facts, Senator Reid jumped on the remark. The problem was, the soldier in question not only was a phony soldier but had previously been called that by none other than ABC News.

Jesse Macbeth, the "soldier" in question, claimed to have been an Army Ranger who had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq where he witnessed numerous instances of atrocities by American troops against civilians. Listening to him, one gets the impression that all the American forces do is kill innocent civilians. However, Macbeth simply cited atrocities, he never gave any dates or locations - nothing that could be substantiated. Immediately following the release on of his interview on the internet, critics began to point out discrepancies - his uniform was the wrong one for a ranger, the patches on his uniform were not correct and the vagueness of his accounts made it impossible to verify them. It was soon obvious that this fellow was a fraud. But the real zinger came when he either became overconfident or simply believed his own lies after telling them so often, and he applied for veteran's benefits. It then came out that Jesse Macbeth was not a former Army Ranger, and had not served overseas, let alone in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, but instead, had served a mere 44 days in Army basic training before washing out.

Rush Limbaugh Challenges Senator Reid to Debate Him in Public

Iraqi War Atrocity Testimony. Jesse Macbeth. Fraud. Poser.

Total Defeat for Senator Reid

Rush Limbaugh's quick counter attack ignited a fiery response on the internet and talk radio circuit with the result that competition on eBay for ownership of the letter quickly skyrocketing to six and then seven figures. When the bidding ended a few days later the winner, Betty Casey a philanthropist and trustee of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation (set up in honor of her late husband), ended up paying a cool $2,100,100 for the historic smear letter bearing the signatures of Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton, and 39 other Democratic fellow travelers in the Senate.

Rather than resigning in shame and trying to quietly disappear, Senator Reid made an even greater fool of himself by speaking before the Senate (throughout this controversy Senator Reid was careful to attack Rush Limbaugh vocally from the floor of the Senate where the Article I Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution - which reads:

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

- which prevented Rush or anyone else from taking legal action against him for libel) and trying to take credit for helping to raise the funds by boosting the price of the letter with the signatures of 41 U.S. Senators. Rush Limbaugh quickly pulled the rug out from under the Senator by first suggesting that Senator Reid back up his words by emulating Rush in making his own contribution matching the winning bid. The Senator, who has no qualms about freely dispensing trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds, made no response to this suggestion. Rush then publicly reminded Senator Reid that the value of the letter lay, not in the autographs of 41 mostly unknown members of an institution whose prestige has plummeted under their leadership in the eyes of the American people (as evidenced by the dismal 14% approval rating given by Americans to the Democratic led Congress) but in its value as a historic document. The two million dollar plus value placed on the letter by the free market is for its historic value as an example of wanton abuse of power by members of the U.S. Senate. In years to come the names of Senator Reid and his 40 fellow travelers will be nothing more than a historic footnote in the Rush Limbaugh free speech controversy. Like Governor William Cosby, their place in history will be with other tyrants who were challenged and beaten by freedom loving people.


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    • profile image

      Fitness Black Book 

      11 years ago

      I love the Dennis Miller clip. I always have to pay attetion when he talks or I miss one of his many obscure references. I love his style. This is actually a really fancy hub. I'm going to have to spruce mine up a bit!

    • Seabastian profile image


      11 years ago from Raleigh

      I look forward to your instruction. You are both an inspiration and an intimidation(in some respects). Your hubs explaining the differences between supply side economic theory and Keynesian (demand side) are the best explanations I have ever seen-even having read Henry Hazlitt,Von Mises,and Ayn Rand in the past.

      I have decided to forget about not being able to come close to that level of writing and just go ahead with what i've got and try to improve as I go along.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Seabastin - thanks for the nice comment. I will give you suggestion some thought and consider writing a hub about how I go about organizing and researching my hubs. But it might have to wait a while as I teach part time in addition to my regular full time job and the two classes that I teach begin tomorrow eveing so I will be occupied on Monday evenings for the next 3 months.

    • Seabastian profile image


      11 years ago from Raleigh

      You make a great point that Rush and some of the other commentatators do not disguise that they are entertainers as well as educators. Some of the liberal commentators might do a better job getting their views taken seriously if they lightened up a little. Garrison Keilor is an unabashed liberal but he gets his polital ideas across effectively combined with humor.

      I have always wondered how so many teachers and professors can take the wonders of science,history and many other endlessly fascinating subjects and teach them in a way that drives their students to tears.Perhaps,they should tune in to Rush for inspiration(teaching that is)

      The following is somewhat off subject but in some ways it is also related Chuck- I have only recently joined this organization and I have read a number of your hubs and have been amazed at the thorougness of your articles. You write on many of the subjects thatI am interested in and I wonder if you have done or plan to do an article giving some instruction on how you go about the research and organizing the information you present.

    • gamergirl profile image


      11 years ago from Antioch, TN

      Amazing hub, and comments. I grew up listening to Rush's radio show, I found his voice to be soothing and his messages to be entertaining. I haven't kept up with his content he presents in this modern day, it having been ten years or so since I listened to him on the radio, but it's nice to see that he is still out there.

      I almost want to avoid him, however, seeing his name tacked in with the Insane Lady of Television, Ann Coulter. Is he really that bad now? She's pretty wacky, I'd say, but I never saw Rush as being that bad.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Ralph, Thanks for the comments. It's great to hear from you again.

      I agree with you that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Dennis Miller and Michelle Malkin are entertainers as well as political commentators, and I think that they would agree with you that they are entertainers. Rush Limbaugh has often on his radio program and in his books credited part of his success to the fact that he provides entertainment as well as education for his audience. Frankly, there is nothing wrong with this as most people, myself included, would much prefer a stimulating and entertaining presentation from one of these people to a boring diatribe from the likes of Senator Harry Reid. As Dennis Miller pointed out, just looking at Senator Reid is enough to put most people to sleep let alone having listen to him. Actually, fallingasleep listening to Reid is probably a good thing when all he is doing is passing on the fantasies of an Army Basic Training wash out like Jesse Macbeth. Despite the fact that the left views its ideas as dogma that people should simply accept asinfallible , the Founding Fathers felt that in a democracy, political discourse should compete in the in the marketplace of ideas so as to let the people decide what to support and what not to support. While facts and goodarguments are important, they are useless unless one can hold the audience's attention and get them to listen. On the other side, good presentation skills will only go so far as one also needs credible content and goodarguments . Unfortunately, the Democrats today seem to have very few dynamic speakers and even fewer worthwhile ideas forcing them to resort to name calling and attempts like Senator Reid's to silence their opposition.

      As to your comment that few liberals or conservatives take these people seriously, I have to disagree with that. Senator Harry Reid's crude attempt to silence Rush Limbaugh is proof of that. If no one took these people seriously, Senator Reid would not have had to attempt to get Rush Limbaugh fired, the lack of an audience would have been sufficient to make the sponsors pull their ads and kill the program. The fact is millions of people, including many Democrats and self proclaimed liberals, do tune in to Rush Limbaugh, Fox News (which last time I checked had a larger viewership that the other networks combined) and the other cable outlets that these people appear on. They also buy the books these people write and in numbers that frequently push the books to the top of the liberal New York Times Best Seller List. Not only is this audience large but it is growing all the time. In fact the increasing popularity of these people AND their ideas is what has the Democrats so scared.

      As to Rush and the others not being conservatives you are technically correct as the correct label for them is classical liberal with the emphasis on "classical". Unfortunately, in their attempt gain power, big government types in the late nineteenth century hijacked the term "liberal" and used it as a cover to advance their statist and collectivistagendas. In the 18 th and 19th centuries it was liberals who stood for individual liberty and limited government while conservatives fought to maintain the old order with itsauthoritarian government, high taxes and special privileges for those in power. Unfortunately, these people not only gained power but also changed the language in the process leaving the champions of individual liberty and limited government with the conservative label. Chuck

    • OneShot profile image


      11 years ago

      Hmmm... After reading the letter and coming up to speed on this, I am sitting here listening to that "still, small voice" in the back of my mind. It's telling me that something like this may be what the Senators hoped for and that Reid is merely the fall guy in case whatever plan they have backfires. Be interesting to observe the fallout form this.

      Also... I wonder if Rush really is going to match funds or if the check will ultimately come from ClearChannel.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      How many of the Senators have ever held a real job. Senators like Reid, Durbin, Kennedy and Byrd have been in the senate so long they think they can do what ever they want. Senator Reid's statements is just another example of him thinking they know what is best for the American public. Many times I see and hear comments by them or see the bill s they propose. the people said no to immigration and they try to bring it up twice more. Citizens of America these senators work for you and if you don't like what they are doing then next election send them packing.

      Chuck your comments and insight are great and we need to keep the truth out there for the American people. Great Hub Page.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      As someone said, "It's a mistake to get into a pissing match with a skunk!"

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Dennis Miller and Michelle Malkin are strident, self-promoting entertainers, not conservatives. Coulter is to serious political commentators as Britney Spears is to Ella Fitzgerald. Few liberals or conservatives take them seriously. I'm surprised you would bother inflicting their childish diatribes on your fellow Hubsters. Pointing out that Jesse Macbeth is a fraud hardly excuses Limbaugh, Malkin, et al, from labeling Iraq war critics traitors. They have been doing this practically since Bush's reckless and foolish invasion of Iraq. I do agree that it was a tactical mistake for Reid to put water on Limbaugh's paddle by sending the letter although everything in it was perfectly true.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Marye & Wajay - thanks for your comments. It was great fun researching this on YouTube. I originally dismissed YouTube as something for kids to play with but have found it to be a treasure trove of great information as well as some very good amatuer entertainment. Google is on to something with this. Thanks again. Chuck

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great hub, Chuck. It makes me wonder how long, if ever, it will take before liberals face the fact that people just don't like their whiney, dishonest butts! One of the best hubs ever.

    • profile image

      Marye Audet 

      11 years ago

      awesome! I knew about this but had not read the whole story.


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