The White House has again denied the dubious claim by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity that the Obama Administration threatened Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) with closing Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base if he does not support health care reform.
Weekly Standard columnist Michael Goldfarb got the rumor mill started when he wrote a post citing "a Senate aide" who claimed "the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn't fall into line" on health care reform.
As Media Matters points out, Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck all latched onto Goldfarb's post, and propagated the claim on their respective radio shows. Today, Beck said of the report: "I don't even know what category that fits in -- high crimes?" Yesterday, Hannity called it "another example of how the administration is playing politics with national security. That's how bad it's got." Limbaugh, for his part, referred to "Dingy Harry and Obama," and said that if they get Ben Nelson's vote for this, Obama's "finished."
Meanwhile, both Nelson and the White House have denied the report. A Nelson aide said "the rumor is not true." He continued: "This misinformation is coming from inside-the-Beltway partisans who only want to derail health care reform."
The White House released its own statement, which said:
Proving that they will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to undermine health reform, some blogs opposing reform are now trafficking an absurd rumor that Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base is being threatened over Senator Ben Nelson's vote on the Senate reform bill.
To be perfectly clear: these rumors are completely baseless and false.
And in a statement sent to TPM today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer reiterated the denial:
This rumor is absolutely false, as the people spreading it well know. This is nothing but a cynical, crass political game that is designed to maintain the status quo. Let's be clear: the people spreading these falsehoods think nothing is wrong with a system under which families and businesses continue to bear the brunt of skyrocketing costs, insurance companies are allowed to discriminate and drop at will, and thousands of Americans lose their coverage every single day.