"Everybody in the world knows you don't believe anything on Wikipedia," Rush Limbaugh told his listeners last year. So, uh, it must be embarrassing for him that he just used Wikipedia as a source—and got his facts wrong.
On Tuesday, Limbaugh told his listeners about Judge Roger Vinson, of the Federal District Court in Pensacola, Florida, is presiding over a legal challenge to the country's new health-care reform law. Here's a transcript, quoting liberally from Vinson's Wikipedia article:
Who is this judge? Judge Clyde Roger Vinson is a Ronald Reagan appointee. Judge Clyde Roger Vinson is an avid hunter. He's an amateur taxidermist. Do you know what a taxidermist is? That's right. For our liberal caller today, this would not be good news. A taxidermist stuffs dead game. If you go into a big, all-male club, you'll see some moose head over the fireplace. A taxidermist is responsible for it. "After a 2002 hunting trip during which he killed three brown bears, Vinson had their heads mounted over the door through which defendants must pass to enter the courtroom. At the time Vinson said the sight of the severed bear heads would ‘instill the fear of God' into the accused. The heads were removed in June 2003," it didn't even take a year (laughing) "following complaints by local defendants' rights groups."
What a scary, conservative-sounding judge! Too bad none of that is true. Judge Vinson is not much of a hunter ("I've never killed a bear, and I'm not Davy Crockett," he said in a statement). In fact, his main hobby is horticulture: He's the president of the American Camellia Society. As his wife Ellen asked The New York Times, rhetorically: "Can you imagine the president of the American Camellia Society having three stuffed bears in the courthouse?" (No, we cannot, but we also are having trouble imagining the president of the American Camellia Society, period.)
When Limbaugh was called out over the incorrect information, a spokesman insisted that the story had come from an article in The Pensacola News Journal. Only, the News Journal says no such article ever existed. The only reference to such an article online? The footnotes to Judge Vinson's Wikipedia page, which list the article as having appeared on June 31, 2003. (June 31, in case you need a reminder, is not an actual date.)
Well, we've all been there, right? Probably, Limbaugh just didn't know not to believe everything he reads on Wikipedia. Oh, wait. He did know! In fact, he was ranting about it last October, after a series of racist quotes was misattributed to him on Wikipedia sister site Wikiquote:
I mean, everybody in the world knows you don't believe anything on Wikipedia because anybody can go in there and put anything on that they want to unless you succeed in getting your site locked, and I don't even care about that. Wikipedia is as irresponsible as anything else. Anybody can post anything they want on there. But these are the professionals! They're supposed to check this stuff.
You're exactly right, Rush! Broadcast professionals are totally supposed to check on this stuff. What's that you say? People who don't fact-check are "literal professional scum"?
Whatever happened to journalists calling people and saying, "Did you actually say this? I'm doing a story on blah, blah, blah. Did you actually say this?" They didn't want to take the chance I didn't say it. They wanted the excuse to run the fabricated quote. They wanted the opportunity to do it. These people are scum. They are literal professional scum and they are responsible in many ways for the deteriorating standards and quality of journalism. They are leading the pack. They are found on both the news side and the sports side, and they are doing everything they can to promote disunity and discord throughout our culture and society while holding themselves up in their own minds as great unifiers and people who care only about social justice. When they're basically just incompetent, irresponsible, impersonators of journalism.
"Incompetent, irresponsible, impersonators of journalism." Yeah, that sounds about right.