Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays fired back at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Tuesday night, after Reid called on Mays to apologize for Rush Limbaugh's remarks on "phony soldiers.
In a letter hand-delivered to Reid's office, Mays wrote: "While I certainly do not agree with all views that are voiced on our stations, I will not condemn our talent for exercising their right to voice them."
Last week, Limbaugh and a caller were discussing critics of the Iraq war: "What's really funny is, they [Iraq war critics] never talk to real soldiers," the caller said. "They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media."
"The phony soldiers," Limbaugh then said.
After critics slammed Limbaugh, he responded by saying he was "taken out of context," adding his remark was referring to one soldier specifically -- Jesse MacBeth, a vocal war critic who falsely claimed to have served in Iraq.
That didn't mollify Reid, who sent a letter -- signed by 40 other Democratic senators -- to Mays, asking him to repudiate Limbaugh's remark.
In his letter to Reid, Mays took a respectful tone, saying he regretted that Reid and others might have been offended by Limbaugh. But ultimately, Mays wrote, he didn't believe Limbaugh's statements were "intended to personally indict combat soldiers simply because they didn't share his own beliefs regarding the war in Iraq. ... While I do not agree with Mr. Limbaugh on every topic,'' Mays writes, "I do believe that he, along with every other American, has a right to voice his or her opinion.''
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