Anyone listening to Rush Limbaugh's radio show Tuesday could be forgiven for thinking that Judge Roger Vinson has the federal government dead in his sights.
Limbaugh spent some time profiling Vinson, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, who had just announced he would allow a legal challenge to the new health care law to advance to a full hearing. Limbaugh informed his listeners that the judge was an avid hunter and amateur taxidermist who once killed three brown bears and mounted their heads over his courtroom door to "instill the fear of God into the accused."
"This," Limbaugh said, "would not be good news" for liberal supporters of the health law.
But, in fact, Vinson has never shot anything other than a water moccasin, is not a taxidermist and, as president of the American Camellia Society, is far more familiar with Camellia reticulata than with Ursus arctos.
Apparently, Limbaugh had fallen prey to an Internet hoax.
On Sunday night, and again Monday morning, someone identified only as "Pensacolian" edited Vinson's Wikipedia entry to include the invented material. The prankster footnoted the entry to a supposed story in the Pensacola News Journal. The article — like its stated publication date of June 31, 2003 — does not exist.
The same person who posted the information removed it Tuesday afternoon, Wikipedia logs show.
As calls flooded in about Limbaugh's depiction, Vinson, 70, took it all in stride. "I've never killed a bear," he said Wednesday, "and I'm not Davy Crockett."