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by Corky Siemaszko
Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003 at 6:36 PM
The plan involved taking up former Senator Bob Dole's offer "to help" the embattled radio jock - and suggesting he write a supportive letter to Newsweek magazine.
A Rush job to save face
Corky Siemaszko, NY Daily News, December 11, 2003
Rush Limbaugh's spin team came up with a secret plan to save their boss after the conservative commentator admitted he was addicted to painkillers, the Daily News learned yesterday. The plan involved taking up former Sen. Bob Dole's offer "to help" the embattled radio jock - and suggesting he write a supportive letter to Newsweek magazine.
The Oct. 13 memo to Premiere Radio Networks' president Kraig Kitchen, obtained by The News, also recommended doing a survey of Rush's listeners to gauge their reaction to Limbaugh's embarrassing admission. "If results are positive, we can use PR with stations, advertisers and media," the memo states. "If not, we don't have to publicize." It also urges "Kraig to send memo to Congress" with updates on "coverage, advertiser and affiliate feedback."
Confronted with her memo, Limbaugh spokeswoman Keven Bellows said the Congress she was referring to was the senior management team at the Premiere Radio Networks. As for Dole, Bellows said he offered to help after Newsweek did an unflattering story about Limbaugh's addiction and the criminal investigation of his alleged suppliers.
Dole did not return a call for comment.
Limbaugh has not been charged with a crime and repeatedly has denied being the target of Florida investigators probing a black-market painkiller ring. He went into rehab for five weeks in October after admitting on the radio that he was hooked on drugs.
Fearing that Limbaugh, who once called for jailing junkies, might be branded a hypocrite and lose the loyalty of his right-wing listeners, his team sprang into action. "Post a Call to Action on Rush's [Web] site telling his audience that the best way they can support him is to stay tuned to his local station," Bellows wrote. "Let the station know they are listening to the program."
In addition to providing addresses "for Rush's fans to send letters," Bellows recommended getting the message out that Limbaugh's advertisers would stay loyal to the show. "Assuming an outpouring of protest," the memo states. "We will alert the [Wall Street Journal]."
Limbaugh was his usual liberal-bashing self when he returned to the airwaves last month - with his audience apparently intact.
A short time later, investigators in Florida's Palm Beach County - where Limbaugh lives in splendor - seized his medical records and suggested he went "doctor shopping." It was the first sign Limbaugh could face criminal charges for buying black-market drugs. Next week, a judge will decide whether the medical records should be made public.
Bellows said the records show that Limbaugh's addiction stemmed from his numerous medical problems, and they want them made public. Also yesterday, the National Enquirer reported that "the police web is tightening around Rush Limbaugh" and that he could be arrested in days.
Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, yesterday called the tabloid story "a pure fabrication" and a "thinly veiled attempt to destroy Mr. Limbaugh's reputation and career."
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