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Waxman Denies Investigation of Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin

Nathan Burchfiel | Staff Writer | Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Waxman Denies Investigation of Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin

(1st Add: Includes comments from the American Spectator.)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Wednesday denied that he is conducting or ever planned to conduct a congressional investigation of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin and called on a conservative magazine to retract its report that he asked investigators to compile information on the popular conservative talk radio hosts.

"The American Spectator report about a congressional investigation into talk radio is completely false," Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement to Cybercast News Service. "There is no investigation."

Waxman was referring to a report Monday that he "has asked his investigative staff to begin compiling reports on Limbaugh, and fellow radio hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin based on transcripts from their shows" to build a case for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.

When asked if there had been ideas or plans to compile reports on the talk radio hosts, a spokesman for Waxman said, "No, there were not."

In his statement, Waxman called on the Spectator to "immediately retract the item and apologize for the confusion its fictitious report has caused."

In a posting on its Web site, an unnamed American Spectator author wrote that Waxman's denial "won't sway us from our reporting of earlier this week. And we stand by our story, which was conveyed to us by an Oversight Committee staffer."

"Further," the statement says, "we have been made aware of some conversations between staff on Oversight and career staff at the Federal Communications Commission about how best to approach oversight hearings on FCC policies."

The magazine accused Waxman of "looking for any opportunity to 1. Pursue and attack conservatives and the Bush administration; and 2. Gain gobs of publicity for Democrats in general and Rep. Waxman specifically. He accomplishes these lofty goals by using taxpayer dollars to investigate any number of individuals, organizations, government entities, corporations and industries."

Limbaugh came under fire from Democrats recently when he used the term "phony soldiers" in setting up discussion about Jesse Macbeth, an anti-war activist who was sentenced to five months in prison for falsifying his military records.

Macbeth claimed to have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and said in online videos that he witnessed U.S. troops committing atrocities there. But Macbeth never served overseas, having been in the Army only 44 days.

Limbaugh's comment set off a firestorm of criticism from Democrats in Congress and the liberal media critic group Media Matters for America, which claimed that Limbaugh used the "phony soldiers" label to describe all soldiers who oppose the war in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats sent a letter to Clear Channel Communications, asking the broadcasting giant to force Limbaugh to apologize.

In the House, Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) introduced a resolution that would have condemned Limbaugh.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who introduced his own resolution in support of Limbaugh, said Democrats' efforts to condemn the popular talk radio host were an attempt to lay the groundwork for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.

The Fairness Doctrine is a federal regulation that requires broadcasters to present both sides of a controversial issue. The rule was enforced from 1949 to 1987, when the Reagan administration allowed it to lapse.

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