A law student branded a "slut" and a "prostitute" by US radio host Rush Limbaugh in an on-air rant about contraception rejected his apology Monday as more sponsors abandoned the right-wing icon's show. Internet pioneer AOL was the biggest name to declare it would no longer advertise on "The Rush Limbaugh Show," the highest-rated talk show on US radio, syndicated to more than 600 radio stations from coast to coast.
He renewed that apology on Monday, telling listeners: "Those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for... I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her." But Fluke, 30, appearing on ABC television's "The View," said she did not think Limbaugh's remarks changed anything, "especially when that statement is issued when he's under significant pressure from his sponsors."
As I've said and written at every step of this mess, Rush was absolutely wrong to say what he did and was right to apologize. That said, it's absolutely no surprise that Fluke would blow off the apology, if only to further solidify her heroine status in certain circles. Since we're in a 'new tone'-enforcement sort of mood, one wonders when HBO will catch some real flack over Bill Maher's grossly misogynistic comments about Sarah Palin and others. (Answer: Never, partially because they were already too busy producing a film smearing her to notice). And since the media has taken to asking elected Republicans to denounce Rush for some reason, The Weekly Standard's John McCormack asked Obama's SuperPAC if they will return Maher's $1 million donation. (Answer: No comment, but check out this awesome column Bill Maher just wrote!) I suspect they'll just keep the cool mil from the guy who called a prominent female conservative the c-word, fully secure in the knowledge that the controversy will never blow up in the press. And so it goes. NRO's Jonah Goldberg catches another glaring double standard exposed by the Fluke flap, noting the mainstream media's disparate treatment of Ms. Fluke -- a longtime activist who actively sought the spotlight on this issue -- and Joe the Plumber, who committed the sin of asking a tough question Barack Obama approached him on his own property:
You may recall that when Joe Wurzelbacher was approached by Barack Obama entirely accidentally, he became something of a political celebrity for having a philosophical disagreement with the president over spreading the wealth around and all that. Before long, the mainstream press went to battle stations to discredit the man. He didn’t even have a plumber’s license! (didn’t need one in Ohio). He had financial problems! He was a fraud! An astroturf plant! Blah blah blah...Joe Biden ridicul[ed] Wurzelbacher. Meanwhile, here’s Sandra Fluke a 30 year old law student and committed political operative and activist. And yet the mainstream press can’t muster the slightest skepticism about her efforts. When average citizens are thrust into the political debate, they are heroes — if they confirm prevailing liberal arguments. When they run against the grain of the preferred narrative, they are ground down, caricatured and treated to corrosive media skepticism.
Were there any dubious assertions in Fluke's testimony? You bet. Ace of Spades devoted a long series of tweets to expressing the skepticism that somehow eluded virtually every single member of the media. Here was the usually-sharp Jake Tapper's uber-lame reply to Ace's challenges. Liberal columnist Kirsten Powers, who fully supports the Limbaugh boycott, wrote a must-read piece in the Daily Beast yesterday, pointing out the inconvenient truth that many of the Left's male media stars have made equally egregious (and far worse) remarks through the years. Strangely, many of those comments were met with deafening silence from today's boycott brigade. Here's Powers discussing the disconnect with Megyn Kelly on Fox:
One of the personalities mentioned was Ed "Republicans Want You Dead" Schultz, who has been relentlessly pumping the Rush backlash narrative, despite the fact that he twice called conservative commentator Laura Ingraham a "slut" -- yes, the exact same word Rush used -- on the air, and later apologized. But his situation was different, of course, because his apology was more sincere, or something. The latest permutation of this story witnesses the second-ranking House Democrat encouraging Ms. Fluke to sue Rush:
Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh should be sued for calling a law school student a "slut" and "prostitute," U.S. Rep Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said Sunday. "I'd like to see her take him to court," said Hoyer, who was in Selma for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. "She is not a public figure and, for that reason, she should be able to sue for slander, libel or whatever else might be involved."
I'll let Allahpundit walk you through the legal reasons why any such attempt would almost certainly get tossed, but I think he's right that Democrats would be happy to just wring some more publicity out of this kerfuffle. It's worked out quite nicely for the Left. Step one: President Obama launches an unconstitutional broadside against religious liberty. Step two: As the Right begins to fight back effectively, liberals kick-start the fraudulent "birth control ban" talking point, and greedily double down on deceit when they suspect it's working. Step three: Rush Limbaugh blows it by providing Lefties with the most convenient outrage-in-a-box they could have hoped for, handing them mounds of dry tinder to toss onto the misdirection "misogyny" fire they'd been stoking for days. And, voila: What began as a critically important debate over the role of government and the sanctity of the First Amendment has devolved into a discussion about whether conservatives should boycott companies that have pulled sponsorships from a radio show.
What a cluster.
UPDATE - I appeared on MSNBC late last week to discuss this controversy. The birth control bit starts around 3:50 --
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography