On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh told a 13-year-old girl who called the show that he was “documented to be right 99.6% of the time,” in response to her mentioning that she had heard he was right 99% of the time. There's only one problem with Limbaugh's assertion: it's a total fabrication.
I don't mean “fabrication” in the sense that I disagree with the people who document that Limbaugh is right 99.6% of the time. I mean “fabrication” in the sense that there are no documents, no audit, no people measuring Limbaugh's accuracy. Limbaugh simply is making it all up and inventing an arbitrary number that makes him sound authoritative.
That's right: Limbaugh actually has the audacity to completely fabricate his own accuracy ratings. And he does this regularly, declaring his accuracy ratings to be above 99% on almost a weekly basis.
For almost his entire career as a talk show host, Limbaugh has claimed to have a highly specific measure of his accuracy, declaring in 1992 that he is right "97.9 per cent of the time."
By 2009, Limbaugh was claiming, “I have an official opinion auditing firm, the Sullivan Group in Sacramento. They just last week released an audit of my opinion since the election. As you know, I went into the election documented to be almost always right 98.9%. I have jumped a full tenth of a point. I have not been wrong since the election, according to Sullivan Group, the opinion audit now documented to be almost always right 99% of the time.”
The Sullivan Group is an investment brokerage firm started by Limbaugh’s friend Tom Sullivan, who hosted a show at Limbaugh's original station KFBK in Sacramento (and now hosts a show on Fox News Radio and the Fox Business Network). The Sullivan Group, which Sullivan sold to Prudential Securities in 1986, would have no expertise in documenting opinions, and the entire reference is an inside joke by Limbaugh. There is no audit of Limbaugh's accuracy by The Sullivan Group or anyone else, and the whole idea of auditing opinions rather than facts is silly. It's simply a way of mocking his enemies and even his own audience by getting them to think there is some kind of statistical basis to his claim to being right.
Limbaugh explained, “they only audit opinions. They don't audit whether I misspeak on a fact or something like.” He added, “it is a massively complex -- I mean the server farm to handle all this, folks, fills rooms at the Sullivan Group. I mean this is even more complicated than trying to explain my diet.” Obviously, there is no computer program that could measure the accuracy of opinions, nor is there any “server farm” filling rooms that would be needed to run it. In this unique instance, Limbaugh was detailed enough about the “audit” to reveal to a careful listener what a fraud it was. But on most shows, Limbaugh simply declares that he is “documented to be almost always right 99.8% of the time.” Magically, his error rate dropped from 1 percent to 0.2 percent in less than a month in 2009. Limbaugh's claims to be almost perfect in his accuracy have grown precisely when his dishonesty and inaccuracy on the air has reached new heights.
As I document in my new book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason (Thomas Dunne Books, March 2011), Limbaugh is a professional liar who routinely spreads false rumors and lies about his enemies.
Yet not one media outlet I've found has ever reported on Limbaugh's fakery. It should be a scandal that the leading conservative regularly fabricates accuracy ratings in order to deceive his gullible listeners. This is not a new story. But there's something just so sleazy about Limbaugh directly lying to a 13-year-old who trusts him because she thinks there's scientific proof that Rush is always right.
Crossposted at DailyKos.