Recently our competitor, American Journalism Review, reported that only five U.S. news organizations have full-time reporters or stringers in Afghanistan.

Well, there’s a new guy in town. But don’t expect to see him bellying up to the bar at whatever watering hole the other reporters favor, or combing the countryside to get a feel for — well, for Afghanistan. With a planned itinerary and a full military escort, he has a full plate, hanging with defense contractors, cabinet members and ambassadors. You know, the real people.

Yessir, Rush Limbaugh, the “Doctor of Democracy,” was in Afghanistan this week, pulling back the veil on what the other five guys cover up.

The Taliban? “Nobody is afraid of them anymore.”

The troops? “Happy as can be!”

The development community? “Everybody here loves the ambassador from the United States. He goes back to the Reagan administration. He’s a good guy.”

The military contractors? “Guess who serves me breakfast every morning, the dreaded Halliburton people … I said ‘Hey, you guys, where are you hiding the oil?’ and they chuckled and laughed.”

The media? “Guess what the most popular media in this country is? It’s radio! More people listen to radio in this country than watch TV and there’s a huge effort. They’ve got talk shows, call-in talk shows that were featured during the presidential campaign. Now, none of this stuff is being reported out of here because none of it makes the Bush administration look bad and none of it makes America look bad and none of it is really bad.”

Rush “really bonded” with the Afghan minister of defense over dinner and a viewing of vintage CBS News footage of the mujahideen’s war against the Soviets. “I told him, I said, ‘General, you invite us all here to your home for dinner to make us watch Dan Rather?’ I said, ‘I came to Afghanistan to get away from Dan Rather.’”

Bada bing !

Funny how the farther one travels, the more insulated one gets.

Corey Pein

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Corey Pein was an assistant editor at CJR.