After Losing Advertisers and a Mediocre Apology, Limbaugh Continues Attack on Women’s Health
UPDATE: More companies announced today that they would pull their ads from Rush Limbaugh's show, bringing the total to twenty.
At least a dozen companies have pulled their advertising from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show after he assailed student activist Sandra Fluke for testifying during a Congressional panel on women’s health, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
And despite a half-hearted apology from Limbaugh—in which he apologizes to Fluke but continues to attack women’s health—the backlash continues.
Limbaugh incorrectly conflated her testimony in his apology: she focused on telling other women’s stories about the preventative benefits of contraceptives to treat serious medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, but he painted it as a recount of her “personal sexual recreational activities.” His statement also made it clear that he plans to continue his rant against women and their reproductive rights.
“During these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress,” Limbaugh said. “I think it is absolutely absurd that I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. …My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Appearing on The View on Monday, Fluke rejected Limbaugh’s apology.
“I don’t think that a statement like this … saying that his ‘choices of words was not the best’ changes anything,” said Fluke, who also suggested that the apology might have been prompted more by the intense corporate and public pressure Limbaugh has been facing than by genuine remorse.
Despite his apology, Limbaugh’s attacks on Fluke were rampant on Friday, when he suggested that her testimony is no different than someone knocking on his door and saying “I’m out of money I can’t afford birth control pills and I’m supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.”
Over the weekend and on Monday, Limbaugh tried to deflect a number of backlashes before finally apologizing to Fluke for his continuing tirade against her and the women she represented in her testimony.
- President Obama called Sandra Fluke to “offer his support,” according to CBS News. Obama “wanted to express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks and to thank her for exercising her rights as a citizen to speak out on an issue of public policy,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday. Limbaugh discussed the president’s call on his show. “President Barack Obama told Fluke in a phone call that her parents should be proud of her. If your daughter appears before a congressional committee and says she is having so much sex she can’t pay for it and wants a new welfare program to pay for it, would you be proud? I’d be embarrassed. I would disconnect the phone, go into hiding.”
- By Tuesday morning, at least a dozen companies had pulled their ads from Limbaugh’s radio show. Carbonite CEO David Friend issued a statement on Saturday saying that, despite Limbaugh’s apology the company would stick with their stance and revoked its advertising since the conservative shock jockey “overstepped any bounds of decency.”
- The hashtag #iamnotaslut went viralthanks to a 35-year-old Army officer and mother of two who has served for 17 years. She originally tweeted that she “used birth control to be a good soldier and responsible parent.”
- Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly joined in on the assault against Fluke, the Huffington Post reported. “Let me get this straight, Ms. Fluke, and I'm asking this with all due respect,” he said during his Friday show. “You want me to give you my hard-earned money so you can have sex?”
- Carly Fiorina, the vice-chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and one of the first high-profile Republican to speak out against Limbaugh, called his sexist diatribe “distracting,” according to Think Progress, our sister publication. “That language is insulting, in my opinion,” Fiorina said. “It’s incendiary and most of all, it’s a distraction. It’s a distraction from what are very real and important issues.”
- Despite Georgetown University’s noted skepticism of the Obama administration’s newest policy regarding religiously affiliated universities and contraception coverage, Georgetown president John DeGioia defended Fluke’s “model of civil discourse” against Limbaugh’s barrage of sexist attacks, which he described as “misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.” Fluke is a Georgetown law student. On his radio show, Limbaugh responded to the critique and defined a misogynist as “A man who hates women, almost as much as women hate women.”
- On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) called Limbaugh’s remarks “totally unacceptable” and said they “should be condemned” by people across the political spectrum, the Associated Press reported.
- Even Fox Business host Don Imus called Limbaugh’s apology “lame” and “vile,”and he suggested that the conservative radio personality apologize to Fluke in person. Imus, who was famously fired in 2007 for calling the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed ho’s,” recalled the incident and said what he did was “a lame attempt to be funny.” He added: “And it was three words. I went and met with these people after I’d been fired. You know you got to look them in the eye, you’ve got to show guts.”
- On Monday, Limbaugh apologized again on his show but said he was only sorry for his specific use of “prostitute” and “slut” when addressing Fluke, and then blamed his slut-shaming on “the left.” He said: “This is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week I became like them. Against my own instincts, and my own knowledge and everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke.”
While many—including hundreds of Campus Progress readers—have said they’re Standing with Sandra, the vicious attacks against her and millions of other women who rely on contraception continue. Sign our petition today.
Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.