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Did Conservatives Cause Limbaugh-gate?

Hasn’t the unsung hero in the Rush Limbaugh foofaraw been Politico’s Jonathan Martin? For all the credit Republicans are giving the White House in pushing it (including a petition attacking Democrats), Martin was the Leonard Zelig of the story, appearing at crucial intervals, prodding both Republicans and Limbaugh to pour gasoline on the flames whenever they started to dim. On Jan. 27, Martin filed a short interview with Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) in which the junior-yet-influential congressman said “it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks.” Martin, whose instant access to Limbaugh is almost unheard of, asked the man for a quote, and he got it.

They won’t continue to lose because of me, but because of their relationship with the grassroots, which is hurting. Conservatives want leadership from those who claim to represent them.

The next day, Gingrey called in to Limbaugh’s show and gave him a blubbering apology. In yesterday’s story about “Dems’ Limbaugh plan,” Martin recounted Gingreygate but didn’t mention his own role in getting Gingrey to insert his foot in his mouth.

Liberals quickly realized that … their better move was to paint the GOP as beholden to the talk show host. This was driven home to them, according to one Democrat, when Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) took a shot at Limbaugh in late January only to appear on his program the next day and plead having momentarily had “foot-in-mouth disease.”

One week after this, the Conservative Political Action Conference booked Limbaugh, who does not give many public speeches for a political figure of his stature, to give the event’s closing address. It’s ironic: the Limbaugh story was prodded along not by Democrats or liberal media outfits, but by a reporter who came to Politico from National Review, and who’s friendly with and trusted by Republicans.

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