SAVIDGE: One legal expert says by placing the ads, Limbaugh is out to influence more than public opinion.
LEGAL ANALYST MICHELLE SUSKAUER: The people that are reading the Palm Beach Post and that are reading the Sun-Sentinel are potential jurors.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile the man behind the investigation, state attorney Barry Krischer, a Democrat, denies there is anything political about it. For Today, Martin Savidge, NBC News, Atlanta.
LAUER: Roy Black is Rush Limbaugh’s attorney, he’s also an NBC analyst. Good morning, Roy.
ROY BLACK: Good morning, Matt.
LAUER: So what’s the motivation behind the ad? Is this a way to get a message out to jurors or potential jurors in a potential criminal case?
BLACK: Absolutely not, Matt. The one thing, caveat, I did want to make is that this is not relating to the medical records issue that’s before the court because we’re not going to comment on this. This ad was put into the newspaper by Rush’s radio network in response to a column in the Palm Beach Post editorial pages. Now, this is one in a series of one-sided opinion pieces in that newspaper. Mr. Sears is wrong, because he does not allow any other viewpoint except the state attorney’s on his editorial pages —
LAUER Wait, wait. Didn’t you write a letter to that paper, and wasn’t it published?
BLACK: Yes, but that’s one in a series. I wrote a series of letters. I even complained to the general counsel of Cox Newspapers because they wouldn’t let us in. They allowed one letter in weeks after the column that we were criticizing; it had no impact whatsoever.
LAUER Let me ask you this, Roy.
BLACK: Yes, sir.
LAUER The ad says this. Quote, “Editorial writers and columnists at the Palm Beach Post search for new ways to bash Rush Limbaugh and discredit him.” How does Rush think and how do you think that newspaper has done, not on the editorial side, but on the news coverage side of his case?
BLACK: Oh, no, we’re not complaining about the news coverage. We think the news coverage in the Post has been fairly evenhanded because they report both sides. It’s the editorial pages that have been so one-sided —
LAUER But don’t they have a right as a newspaper to take an editorial stance and stick with it?
BLACK: No, I think that they should air both viewpoints. By the way, let me tell you what would happen in this column, because I think people need to know what was done last Sunday. They criticize Rush for his position on the photographs at Abu Ghraib Prison, which is fair. They may have taken it out of context, they may have manipulated and twisted it, but that’s opinion versus opinion, and that’s fair. But then, the kicker to that column is, cheering on the prosecution in its investigation and prosecution of Rush and saying it might be a good idea to teach him a lesson by putting him behind bars. Now, I find that to be particularly egregious to say that because somebody is expressing his opinion under the First Amendment, no matter how controversial it may be, since he has the temerity to do that, we ought to prosecute him —
LAUER Right, right, right, right.
BLACK: — and put him behind bars to teach him a lesson.
LAUER However, Roy, however, Roy, the opinion you just talked about of “maybe it’s good to teach him a lesson,” that’s an opinion also, no matter how controversial it might be. So as a guy who goes on the radio every day and expresses his opinions, isn’t it a little bit strange for him now to be lashing out at someone else for doing the same thing?
BLACK: Absolutely not, Matt. We don’t criticize him for criticizing his opinion, which is the beginning of the column. What you have to understand is that this newspaper is in bed with the local prosecutor and it looks for anything to cheer them on. And to end up a column saying because he’s expressing his First Amendment opinion, he ought to spend some time behind bars himself, I think is totally outrageous — and to cheer on a local prosecutor because you’re in bed with him I think is beyond the pale of legitimate journalism.
LAUER Five seconds, Roy. When might the medical records decision come down from the court?
BLACK: Whenever the Fourth District Court of Appeal feels it is necessary to do so, and they have handled this with integrity and in their typical judicial manner, and we will wait for an opinion.
LAUER: Roy Black. Roy, as always, thanks very much.
BLACK: Thank you, Matt.