Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Limbaugh Lies: So what else is new?

Media Matters carefully documents seven dangerous falsehoods from Rush Limbaugh's radio show. The last is of most interest to voters in Louisiana.

Falsehood #7: President Bush called Blanco, asking her to declare a state of emergency and evacuate New Orleans, but she refused

On September 6, Limbaugh offered a revised version of the dubious claim by other conservatives that it took an August 28 phone call from President Bush to convince Blanco to order the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans. Limbaugh stated, "President Bush on Sunday [August 28] begged the governor to get everybody out of [New Orleans]; declare an emergency. She said, 'No, I need 24 hours to decide.' "

In fact, as Media Matters has previously documented (here and here), an August 28 statement by Blanco and a September 7 statement by White House press secretary Scott McClellan make it clear that the president called the governor shortly before the start of the August 28 press conference at which Nagin called for the evacuation of the city, casting serious doubt on the claim that Bush's phone call was a factor in the decision to evacuate.

Additionally, Limbaugh conflated Blanco's decision to "declare an emergency" with the decision "to get everybody out of [New Orleans]." Media Matters has previously documented that these were separate events: Blanco declared a state of emergency for Louisiana on August 26 and Nagin declared the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans two days later, on August 28. Moreover, it was Blanco who asked President Bush to declare a federal state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27, not the other way around, as Limbaugh claimed.

Limbaugh also conflated the president's telephoned request for Blanco to push for a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans with a separate request the president made to deploy active-duty and National Guard troops to the relief effort under joint federal and state command. "Under the White House plan, Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré would oversee both the National Guard and the active duty federal troops, reporting jointly to the president and Ms. Blanco," The New York Times reported on September 5. In an interview that aired on the September 5 edition of CNN Live at Daybreak, Nagin told CNN's Soledad O'Brien that Bush made this request during a meeting aboard Air Force One on September 2, and that Blanco told the president she "needed 24 hours to make a decision." Blanco refused, fearing she would "lose control when she had been in control from the very beginning," according to the governor's press secretary, Denise Bottcher, who was quoted by the Times.

From the September 6 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: We also know that President Bush on Sunday [August 28] begged the governor to get everybody out of there, declare an emergency. She said, "No, I need 24 hours to decide." We now have the mayor, Ray Nagin -- and we have the audio of this, it happened on CNN today. The mayor is now trying to pass the buck to the governor, claiming that the governor was the one that was holding up the decision-making process. We also know that the governors, governors are in charge of the National Guard. Everybody wants to know: Why didn't Bush send the Guard? Well, the governors have to do this, and that's why Bush wanted her to declare an emergency, so that he could get a foot in the door.

No comments: