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January 01, 2004
Happy New Year

Rush Limbaugh and his attorney Roy Black seem like a good match.

Completely unrelated, here's a story from SPIN that's partially about music downloading and partially about a young activist named Sherman Austin who's currently serving a one-year prison sentence for hosting a website (created by someone else) that included information on how to build a pipe-bomb.

And here's a story I wrote for SPIN about Fred Durst's excellent year.

Posted by Greg Beato at 02:03 PM
December 28, 2003
More Limbaugh Questions

Does prescription painkiller abuse destroy your memory?

On October 10th, Rush Limbaugh issued this statement: "I first started taking prescription painkillers some years ago when my doctor prescribed them to treat post surgical pain following spinal surgery."

On November 17th, Limbaugh explained to his radio show listeners that he "was a drug addict from about 1996, 1995 or whatever, to just five weeks ago."

On December 22nd, Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, mentioned Limbaugh's surgery during during courtroom proceedings:

In 1998 his coccyx bone was removed and it was found that he had cysts in his spine. He was being treated for the pain regarding these conditions at the Jupiter Out-Patient Surgery Center and they found he had degenerative disk disease and was being treated for chronic and intractable pain…In order not to use medication, because he knew and they knew what could happen as a result of using this medication, he agreed to a series of epidural steroid injections into his spine in order to prevent the pain from continuing. It was unsuccessful. He was told the only alternative to taking this medication was a spinal surgery in which they had to go through the front of his throat in order to do the operation on his spine, and because of the type of profession he does, it could have caused a catastrophic result and therefore, the only thing he could do was to use pain medication."

Got that? Limbaugh says he's been a drug addict since as early as 1995, but that he only became a drug addict after having back surgery. But he didn't have the back surgery until 1998. Sure, Limbaugh's 1995/1996 quote could have been a slip of the tongue, or just evidence of a generally bad memory. At the same time, though, how hard is it to remember which year you had back surgery and then became a junkie?

Meanwhile, in the interest of fairness and balance, I noticed a couple of odd passages in two recent articles about the Limbaugh case.

In the first article, by CNN reporter Susan Candiotti, the following passage appears:

During a hearing over whether prosecutors should have access to Limbaugh's medical records, attorney Roy Black said Limbaugh paid "extreme amounts of money" to Wilma Cline, his former housekeeper, and her husband, first for pills and then for extortion. Black alleged that the Clines had threatened to go public with information about Limbaugh's drug use unless they received $4 million.

I mentioned this passage last week, and assumed it was an accurate summary of what Black said in the hearing. In the transcript of the hearing that appears on Limbaugh's site, however, there doesn't seem to be any point where Black says that Limbaugh paid Cline for pills, nor does Black use the phrase "extreme amounts of money." Instead, the closest he comes is when he says, "Over years he paid substantial amounts of money to the Clines because of their extortion."

On what basis, then, did Candiotti conclude that Black said Limbaugh had paid Cline for drugs? Did she get this detail wrong? Or is the transcript on Limbaugh's site inaccurate?

On a similar note, consider this passage from AP reporter Jill Barton:

Ed Shohat, the attorney for the Clines, strongly denied Black's allegation. "Rush Limbaugh confessed and admitted that he bought the pills. ... I know of no facts that my clients demanded money from Rush Limbaugh in any way," said Shohat, who added he had not heard of the blackmail allegation before Monday's hearing and that his clients stand by their story.

What confession is Shohat alluding to? Except for the passage in Candiotti's CNN piece, I don't recall seeing any admission from Limbaugh or anyone representing him that he bought pills from Cline. But since two different news reports imply that such an admission was made, maybe there's something there? Or are the liberal elites really out to get to Limbaugh, just like he says they are?

Posted by Greg Beato at 11:11 PM