Limbaugh Receives Criticism Over His So-Called “Apology” For Misogynistic Attacks On Fluke

Rush Limbaugh finally issued an “apology” after numerous high-profile figures from across the political spectrum condemned him for his vile attacks on Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress recently about the lack of access to contraception for women for students at her school.

But Limbaugh's statement has not dampened the controversy, with people from across the political spectrum noting how weak Limbaugh's apology actually was:

Journalist A.B. Stoddard: “It Wasn't Just Two Words. It Was Everything He Said.” From the March 6 edition of MSNBC's News Nation with Tamron Hall:

STODDARD: I think that Rush Limbaugh got caught in his apology by trying to isolate these two, you know, horrible names that he called Miss Fluke. And he didn't actually apologize for the whole context of his remarks -- the sentiment behind his remarks. I actually think, beyond those names, the worse thing he did was say that Sandra Fluke should take videos of herself engaged in sexual activities and post them online so the taxpayers could know what they were paying for. It wasn't just two words. It was everything he said.


STODDARD: There was a million things to apologize for; he just picked two words. And he really extended this controversy and made it longer and more drawn out than he had to. [MSNBC, News Nation with Tamron Hall, 3/6/12]

NBC's Today Panel Agrees That Limbaugh's “Sort Of” Apology Was Not Enough. From the March 6 edition of NBC's Today:

During a panel discussion of Limbaugh's comments on NBC's Today show, contributors Donny Deutsch, Star Jones, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman agreed that the comments were so offensive that his apology wasn't enough. Deutsch said that Limbaugh was “attacking our daughters” and “calling our daughters 'sluts' if they use contraception.” Jones added that “this is an attack on women's health.” [NBC, Today, 3/6/12]

NY Times Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal: Limbaugh's Statement “Really Just Distorted Ms. Fluke's Message In A Whole New Way.” From a March 5 blog post on The New York Times' website:

Last Friday, I wrote about people who actually bother to apologize for offensive and harmful behavior. Sincere admissions of guilt deserve special attention, in part because it's now standard for national figures to either hide from their mistakes, or to just go through the motions of pretending they're sorry.

I guess it's obvious that I have Rush Limbaugh on the mind.

Recently, he made himself and the political right look ridiculous by verbally abusing Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who tried to testify before Congress about the cost of birth control.

Mr. Limbaugh twisted Ms. Fluke's comments beyond recognition. In her statement (now posted on YouTube), Ms. Fluke drew attention to a friend who was prescribed birth control pills for a medical condition, and had to pay for the treatment out of pocket. She said nothing whatsoever about her sex life.

But in Mr. Limbaugh's propaganda chamber, her testimony became a declaration of sexual promiscuity. He accused her of expecting taxpayers to pay her to have sex, and suggested that she post videos of herself having sex on the Internet. He called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” and said she was “round heeled.”

On Saturday, after several advertisers withdrew their sponsorship, Mr. Limbaugh issued a statement in which he said, “I sincerely apologize,” but really just distorted Ms. Fluke's message in a whole new way. “I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress,” he said. “I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.”

Except no one is requiring Americans to pay for other people's sex lives, and the only person talking about “personal sexual recreational activities” is Mr. Limbaugh. While he acts like a 13-year-old peering through a crack in the door of a changing room that he thinks is a strip club, the rest of us are trying to have a sensible discussion about a public health issue. It has no connection with the frequency or kind of sex anyone is having. [The New York Times, 3/5/12]

Fox Business' Don Imus On Limbaugh's “Lame” Apology: He's An “Insincere Pig.” From the March 5 edition of Fox Business' Imus in the Morning:

IMUS: Here's the problem with all this. It was a vile, personal attack of this woman, and it was sustained over what -- it was what, Wednesday, and then you come back and you double down on Thursday and come back and double down on Friday and then issue a lame apology on your website in which you say, “I didn't mean to personally attack her,” when you did attack her. So, were it me, and I ran a radio station or whatever, I'd make him go down there and apologize to her face to face. Get on the -- he owns a Gulf Stream IV. Get on it. Go to Washington, take her to lunch and say, “Look, I'm sorry I said this stuff, and I'll never do it again.” Period. No, he's an insincere pig. Pill-popping pinhead." [Fox Business, Imus in the Morning, 3/5/12, via Media Matters]

LA Times Columnist David Horsey: “Limbaugh's Lame Apology To Sandra Fluke Does Not Even Come Close To Getting Him Off The Hook.” In a March 5 Los Angeles Times column, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and columnist David Horsey wrote:

Rush Limbaugh's lame apology to Sandra Fluke does not even come close to getting him off the hook. He needs to apologize to America for pushing political discourse to the level of drunk good ol' boys shouting crude epithets in a topless bar.


If this were some aberration in Limbaugh's behavior, fair-minded people might be tempted to accept his grudging and very limited apology. But it is nothing new. This is how he has “entertained” day after day for years. He doesn't debate. He doesn't inform. He vilifies, insults, smears, slanders, distorts and misleads. Rush is a schoolyard bully who specializes in picking on girls -- or “feminazis,” as he loves to call them. [Los Angeles Times, 3/5/12]

DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): “Forgive Me If I Doubt [Limbaugh's] Sincerity.” From a March 4 Politico post:

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee isn't buying Rush Limbaugh's apology for calling a Georgetown law student a “slut.”

“I know he apologized, but forgive me if I doubt his sincerity, given that he lost at least six advertisers,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press.” Limbaugh apologized Saturday after criticizing Sandra Fluke on the air for her position on access to birth control. [Politico, 3/4/12]

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX): “I Don't Think [Rush Limbaugh] Is Very Apologetic ... It Was His Bottom Line He Was Concerned About.” From the March 4 edition of CBS's Face the Nation:

BOB SCHIEFFER (Host): Number one: What do you think about the fact that [Rush Limbaugh] apologized? And number two: Does it kind of bother you when the campaign kind of wonders off into these social issues?

REP. RON PAUL (R-TX): Well, yeah, but I don't consider that strictly a social issue. Yeah, I think he should have apologized. I had said he used very crude language, and I think he gets over the top at times so -- but it's in his best interest, that's why he did it. I don't think he's very apologetic. He's doing it because some people were taking their advertisements of his program. It was his bottom line he was concerned about. [CBS, Face the Nation, 3/4/12, via Media Matters]

David Frum: Rush Limbaugh Gave About The “Most Graceless Apology Ever.” From the March 4 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

HOWARD KURTZ (Host): In part he's saying “well I am just an entertainer here who maybe went a little too far.”

DAVID FRUM (CNN contributor): It was about the most graceless apology ever.

KURTZ: Ever?

JULIE MASON (Washington Examiner White House correspondent): Yeah.

FRUM: And it is an interesting thing to contrast that with the heartfelt, on-air, in person apologies delivered by David Letterman and Ed Schultz. [CNN, Reliable Sources, 3/4/12, via Media Matters]

David Axelrod: Rush Limbaugh Issued A “Quasi-Apology” That Included A Falsehood About Fluke. During the March 4 edition of ABC's This Week:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (Host): Finally this controversy that Rush Limbaugh sparked this week. You heard the speaker earlier. Speaker Boehner thought that Rush Limbaugh's words were inappropriate, but he also thought that it was inappropriate for the president to jump in in the way he did and for the Democrats to fund-raise off of this issue. Your response?

DAVID AXELROD (Adviser to President Obama): I think what Rush Limbaugh said about that young woman was not only vile and degrading to he, but to women across the country, and I think the president did the right thing by calling her.

The other thing about the Limbaugh story that I think is important, is that it was predicated on a lie, and the lie was that somehow she was asking that taxpayers pay for contraception. The policy is that in basic insurance policies, contraception, contraceptive services, birth control should be included. And all women in America at some point in their lives use that service. So, that needs to be cleared up, too. Even if his sort of quasi-apology last night, Mr. Limbaugh continued that falsehood and it needs to be challenged. [ABC, This Week, 3/4/12, via Media Matters]

Washington Post Writer Erik Wemple: The Implication Of Limbaugh's Apology Is That He “Doesn't Regret The Meaning Of What He Said.” From a March 4 blog post on The Washington Post's website:

A good apology for those outrages could have been worded simply: "I sincerely apologize to Sandra Fluke."

But Limbaugh just couldn't resist inserting verbiage -- incriminating verbiage. This is the money line from the rambling statement he released yesterday:

I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

Implication: Limbaugh doesn't regret the meaning of what he said; doesn't regret the associations he made; doesn't regret impugning Fluke's integrity across the country. [Washington Post, 3/4/12, emphasis original]

Forbes Contributor John McQuaid Calls Rush Limbaugh's “Non-Apology Apology” “Absurd.” From a March 3 post on Forbes' website titled, “Rush Limbaugh's Non-Apology Apology”:

The art of the non-apology apology is often crude: a condescending, second insult on top of the first, really. But you've got to hand it to Rush Limbaugh. He issued a non-apology apology that was much more finely crafted than what we usually get. But no less insulting to the poor woman he spent several days attacking and defaming, and to the intelligence of anyone who paid attention.


So, if Limbaugh had chosen slightly different words, it would all be different. Conservative radio hosts pride themselves on their plainspoken directness. The idea of Rush Limbaugh attempting to retcon weasely nuance into his own past statements to obscure his excesses: now that's absurd. [Forbes, 3/3/12]


Fluke Responds To Limbaugh, Says Statement Doesn't “Change Anything.” From the March 5 edition of ABC's The View:

BARBARA WALTERS (Host): As you know, has since issued an apology to you. Hasn't called you but -


JOY BEHAR (Host): He has not called you?

FLUKE: No, and let me be clear that I think his statements that he made on the air about me have been personal enough so I'd rather not have a personal phone call from him. [...]

WALTERS: Do you accept his apology?

FLUKE: Well, let me just say this and I encourage everyone to look at the statement in its entirety online, but what I have to say is that I don't think that a statement like this issued saying that his choice of words was not the best changes anything. And especially when that statement is issued when he's under significant pressure from his sponsors who have begun to pull their support from the show.