ABC seems to love the story of Rush Limbaugh's "drug deal." The same story that led the Friday edition of ABC’s World News Tonight was also mentioned at the top of this morning’s Good Morning America, even though there's nothing new to say.
So instead of news, ABC just suggested Limbaugh belongs in jail. Co-host Charlie Gibson teased "Rush to judgment? Rush Limbaugh is set to sign a deal with prosecutors today after three years of prescription drug fraud investigations. But, did he get off easy? The controversy ahead."
Then at the end of the 7am EDT half-hour, Gibson again suggested Rush deserved harsher punishment: "Coming up on Good Morning America, a rush to judgment? He’s made a deal with prosecutors. Did Rush Limbaugh get off easy?”
Finally, at 7:32am, Gibson explained: "We're going to start the half hour with Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host. He's expected to sign a deal with prosecutors later today. This after more than three years of a prescription drug fraud investigation. But now there are new questions, is Limbaugh getting off too easy?"
ABC then aired a re-run of the same Jeffrey Kofman story shown on Saturday's World News Tonight, where Kofman charged that "Limbaugh himself has not been so tolerant of other people's problems with drug addiction." For the rest of Kofman's hard-line take on Rush, the MRC's Brent Baker has full details here.
After that, Gibson chewed over the Limbaugh case with reporter Chris Cuomo. Gibson voiced amazement at how Limbaugh had achieved "complete vindication," telling Cuomo:
"Chris, he's booked on a single charge, he pleads not guilty and in the end he's going to have no criminal record. If that's not complete vindication for Limbaugh, I don't know what would be."
Chris Cuomo: "And add to what also makes this unusual is, he fights it for two-and-a-half years and reportedly had over 10,000 pills, which speaks to something other than use. Not that there was any proof of intent to distribute here. But what usually you have to give to get to get into a program like this, you're a first time offender, you're an admitted addict, which Rush Limbaugh is, so they cut you a break because they believe treatment helps you better than punishment. He thwarted that a little bit here and he still got it."
Gibson: "But the prosecutor a year ago was talking about multiple felonies and money laundering and making a big deal out of this. Limbaugh always said, 'I never did anything wrong.' And, indeed, looks like it comes out that way."
Cuomo: "Well, first of all, he certainly admitted to his addiction, not that that's a crime but obviously he had to have the means to have it. You don't know that the prosecutor's case was as strong as first suggested. The main witness against here went to the Enquirer and got a big payout and so that hurts their credibility. However, this is not the every man deal. We heard it from legal experts all weekend long and it's something to be thought about. But there is a winner here in an absolute sense, that's the public. Prescription drug use is a very big problem. People don't know it, they're not aware of it. Perhaps when they see someone like Rush Limbaugh go down because of it, they will start to take it more seriously. Of course, if he is guilty of anything it maybe hypocrisy here."
Gibson: "Because he's been very tough on drug offenders on his radio program."
Cuomo: "He has been. If they do they crime, they should do the time, doesn't matter if it's drugs. Interestingly, Roy Black said a dangerous thing, his attorney, who got an amazing deal here. He said he shouldn't be seen like other addicts because he had pain and he was trying to manage it. That's dangerous. Addiction is addiction, Charlie. And what you want people to understand is how dangerous it can be. Rush should be pushing that message more than anyone."