Limbaugh Stepped in It Big Time

The nature of my job permits me the luxury of listening to talk radio pretty much all day long; here in the New York city area, the line up on WABC-770 consists of Don Imus, Geraldo Rivera, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and John Batchelor. Since Imus and Rivera tend to get on my nerves (Imus is an idiot and Rivera is a flaming liberal) the morning is spent listening to John Gambling and Mike Gallagher on WOR-710. Needless to say, I was listening on that fateful day when Rush Limbaugh offered his commentary on the statement made to the press by Sandra Fluke in lieu of testimony she was prevented from giving to a congressional committee.

Although Limbaugh’s principle objection focused on the fact that Georgetown University is a Catholic institution that cannot constitutionally be compelled to provide or fund contraceptives for anyone, he veered off on a tangent and in the course of attempting to illustrate absurdity by being absurd, promptly stepped in a steaming pile of canine excrement. Allen Fitzhugh noted in his 2 PM post yesterday that Limbaugh is still trying to scrape the poop from his shoes. So far, he has issued a formal, public apology and suffered the loss of seven major show sponsors (Carbonite data back-up, Sleep Train and Sleep Number mattresses, Citrix software, Quicken Loans, LegalZoom and, most recently, ProFlowers). Given the haste for the exit door, I wouldn’t be surprised if several more sponsors jump ship.

Here’s is what Limbaugh said that caused the uproar:

What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. (interruption) The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. (interruption) Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s “round heeled.” I take it back.

I was listening to his program at the time he said this and immediately smacked my hand to my forehead. Oh my God, I thought to myself, this is way over the top. He just slandered her on a nationally broadcast radio program. Yes, he kinda, sorta walked back his comment but lost that ground when he said “round-heeled.”

Worse yet, when Ms. Fluke spoke about the high cost of contraception, she was not referring to herself but to other women. Here is the relevant portion of her testimony (note the highlighted words):

“When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected by this lack of contraceptive coverage.

“And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear yet from another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously-affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially and emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage.

“And so, I’m here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them – not me – to be heard.

“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.

“One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.

Apparently, Limbaugh never accessed the full transcript of Fluke’s remarks before attributing them to her personally and calling her a slut and a prostitute. Had he done so, he would have known that she wasn’t talking about herself and therefore was NOT the one complaining about having to spend $1,000 per year for contraceptives. For all he (and we) may know, Sandra Fluke might not be all that fond of sex, despite her activism on behalf of “free” contraceptives for those who want them.

By any legal metric I’m familiar with, Limbaugh’s comments constitute slander – although in the case of broadcast media, the action is treated as libel (written defamation) because television or radio broadcasts reach an audience as large or larger than print publications.

It pains me to write this because I’m a charter listener of Limbaugh’s show and admire him very much for all he has done to promote Movement Conservatism. I don’t believe for a moment that he was being vicious or mean-spirited. That said, his statement was a gaffe of monumental proportions that probably cost him a lot of listeners and seven show sponsors so far. He painted himself into a corner, out of which only time and forgetfulness can offer an exit, as those who were offended by his remarks will never accept his apology. They smell his professional blood in the water and it’s a sure bet they’ll be going in for the kill.

Don’t be too surprised if, sometime next week, Sandra Fluke holds a press conference with Gloria Allred at her side and announces that she is filing a lawsuit against Rush Limbaugh for slander. If the suit proceeds, Rush will probably settle the matter quietly out of court and Ms. Fluke will become a media darling with all sorts of opportunities presenting themselves, including speaking engagements, a spot on one of the network of cable shows or even a run for Congress.

It has been said that “loose lips sink ships.” True, that. But there are occasions when loose lips can launch very lucrative careers and the present instance appears to be one of them.

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4 Responses to Limbaugh Stepped in It Big Time

  1. dloosend says:

    As one who actually respects only those who stand by what they say—Mr. carbonite/sleep#/lifelock/sherrysberrys Limbaugh’s lost me when he caved,
    which re-affirms my decision to pay for sattelite (Wilkow/Webb/Humphries/
    NRA radio, etc) so i don’t have to listen to Rush’s ego, Hannity the parrot,
    Gambling the bloomturd ass-licker and all the other pretenders on terrestial radio.
    Limbaugh should stick to shilling for Frothy.

  2. Lorraine says:

    I too am angry that he caved. The activism and history of Ms. Fluke, also revealed with her real age, make the obvious obvious. Where are the apologies for the Palin, bachmann, Ingraham etc? Here I am battling with my local electeds and he caves? Bottom line – if we had a GOP with balls enough and brain power enough to shape the debate properly – instead of letting the Dems do it AGAIN – we never would have gotten to this point.

  3. josephine says:

    He was wrong about what we are. We are the single payer of sex acts. Other than that he was right on. She was talking about herself when she said it cost her 3000.00 to outfit herself for 3 years of law school.
    I was glad he apologized as that proved he is a conservative man and has plenty of sense.
    Let me tell you what I think.
    It is well known and proved in history that religion (most kinds) and freedom give order and thus civilization. It is also well know, I believe, that Obama wishes to reduce us to a bunch of pigs waddling and scruffling over food in the mud outside of his castle window.
    The democrats have already destroyed the black family and culture of America and now it is time to discredit and humiliate the white family. Many years ago the female was treated with respect if she fulfilled the civilized version of femininity and was chaste, or even somewhat chaste. She was heralded by her husband for being a lady in public and as a wife, a lover at home. The feminists have caused many of us to be mistaken for them and thus we have suffered as the respect we were used to and deserved has dwindled.
    Obama has TSA strip searching women. Do we hear that they do this to men? No, if he discredits white women, he stabs at the heart of our society.
    Obama is losing in the polls. No matter what the media says. In order to distract from this and because he has nothing to fight the opponents with, I believe he and Pelosi created this charade. It was not a hearing. It was pretending to be a hearing. They tried to do it in Darrell Issa’s hearing, but she was not vetted, so Issa would not allow it. They set up the hearing scenario and called the press. This was done in hopes that it would bring more women votes to Obama.
    My feelings about this. I believe Miss Fluke is a croc. This was all made up. She has been working as a professional activist during the past years between college and law school. Wonder what she will get from Pelosi when she graduates.?
    This was supposed to catch our Republican candidates by surprise and hurt them. Instead Rush intersected it. She is all of those things he called her. In my day we would call her a whore. She is pimped by Obama and Pelosi and the Democrats. I hope she opts for sterilization. It would not be right for her to be “burdened” by a child. She would probably abuse the child. If I were her parents, I would not let anyone know.
    Rush will survive and he has a team of lawyers. if Miss Fluke thinks she can hurt him, she will be surprised. The conservatives of this nation and the 20,000,000 people who listen everyday will come out in droves. She will not be able to show her face at the drug store.
    If Bill Maher (Ithink) can call Sarah Palin a most despicable word and not apologize and if the comments about Trig went without an apology-I don’t think she can sue. he didn’t lie.
    She has offended me as a woman. She has let our gender down. She is evil, I know. She is most likely a communist. Secularlist. Obamanist. So I disagree with you.

  4. Dana Pearson says:

    I never listen to Rush. But I won’t join the liberal gang that is piling on him either.

    This is all about form over substance. One set of college students should not have to pay for another sets birth control. It is as basic as that.

    There are two many BS civil suits in this country. If Fluke wants to sue, Limbaugh should let it go to court and he will win. Then he should countersue Fluke for a frivolous lawsuit.