Newsweek: Rush Limbaugh 'Arrest' Reports Were Bogus

All weekend long news broadcasts were filled with reports that talk radio host Rush Limbaugh had been "arrested" on charges of doctor shopping as part of a plea bargain worked out with his lawyer.

But - as even the liberal newsmagazine, Newsweek, admitted - the "arrest" reports were bogus.

"LIMBAUGH ARRESTED was the immediate headline on the wires and on TV," the magazine said in Monday's edition. "But the word 'arrest' was misleading."

"In fact, Limbaugh had pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer had worked out a deal that would cause the single charge to be dropped after 18 months as long as Limbaugh stayed out of trouble and continued to see a doctor who has helped him with an addiction to painkillers."

Still, the rest of the press did its level best to portray Limbaugh's voluntary trip to the Palm Beach County jail for a mugshot as if John Dillinger had just been apprehended.


ABC's "World News Tonight" began its coverage of the Limbaugh case dismissal with Elizabeth Vargas announcing: "Rush Limbaugh, one of the most popular and influential radio talk show hosts in America, was arrested in West Palm Beach today. The charges involve allegations of prescription drug fraud."

The actual mugshot belied the "arrest," reports, showing a beaming Limbaugh clearly delighted over finally winning his case.

Other reporters went out of their way to paint the talk host as a common street drug user, noting a 1995 statement where Limbaugh said he favored jail for illegal drug users.

Newsweek was one of the few to note that the top talker's addiction had nothing to do with recreational drug use - but was instead prompted by intense back pain.
"Limbaugh's drug problems began after he made a medical choice to try to preserve his radio voice . . . . The doctors wanted to go in through the back of his mouth, but Limbaugh was worried about his vocal cords. A different procedure was performed, and Limbaugh's suffering did not go away. He began to take pain pills in ever-larger numbers."

The prosecutor's office leaked claims to the press that Limbaugh took thousands of pills -- suggesting not only a severe addiction but that Rush was manipulating his doctors -- "doctor shopping" -- to abuse his medications.

But Rush's medical records, ones turned over to state prosecutors, showed that the doctor shopping claim was a sham.

In July of 2005, Black detailed Rush's use of prescription drugs as detailed in his medical records:

"The prescription records that are in the search warrant affidavits should be put in perspective. Of the 2,130 pills prescribed, only 1,863 were painkillers, and of those only 1,733 were for hydrocodone. These were to be taken over a period of 217 days, from the date of the first prescription until 30 days from the date of the last prescription. The dose averages out to a little over eight pills a day, which is not excessive and is in fact a lawful dose.

"Ninety-two percent of the pain medication was prescribed by two doctors who were treating Mr. Limbaugh for back pain. They work in the same office from the same medical file, and there could be no doctor shopping between them. One of these doctors also prescribed 117 pills of a drug used to treat high blood pressure or to help wean patients off of painkillers.

"The other two doctors are the California surgeon who implanted the cochlear implant to restore Mr. Limbaugh's hearing and a Florida doctor he was seeing for follow up on the surgery. Of the 180 pills prescribed by the surgeon, 100 were vitamin pills. Of the 110 pills prescribed by the fourth doctor, 50 were non-painkillers prescribed for tinnitus, ringing in the ears.

"The bottom line is that these prescription records might tell a story, but it is not a story of doctor shopping. We continue to believe that Mr. Limbaugh is being pursued by overzealous prosecutors and that he should not be charged with any crime."

In fact, when news of the conservative talker's pain pill addiction first hit the National Enquirer in Oct. 2003, Palm Beach County prosecutor James Martz said going after low-level prescription drug users like Limbaugh was a waste of time.

Still, his office pursued the case as if they were prosecuting the Cali cartel.

Friday's dismissal showed that Martz had it right the first time.

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