Rush Limbaugh is not backing down after widespread condemnation over his misogynistic attack on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified before Congress recently about the problems caused when women lack access to contraception.
If anything, Limbaugh has increased the vitriol, at one point asking Fluke: “Who bought your condoms in sixth grade?”
On February 29, Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
Those comments were quickly condemned. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) called on Republicans to denounce Limbaugh's attack on Fluke, calling out his “despicable attack,” which Maloney identified as “a new low in a season of lows.” Fluke also issued a statement saying this language is “an attack on all women” and declaring that those who speak out for comprehensive women's health care “will not be silenced.”
Limbaugh is not backing down.
Opening his show on March 1, Limbaugh characterized the criticism of his comments as “a conniption fit,” which he called “hilarious.” He offered what he said was a “compromise” to contraception coverage: purchasing “all the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as possible.”
Limbaugh returned to the controversy later, claiming to have “run some numbers” on contraception costs and arguing that contraception coverage was “flat-out thievery” that would force taxpayers to pay to “satisfy the sexual habits of female law students at Georgetown.”
Limbaugh later dismissed concerns over lack of access to contraception coverage and mocked Fluke's congressional testimony, affecting a baby's voice and pretending to cry, saying: “I'm going broke having sex. I need government to provide me condoms and contraception. It's not fair.”
Limbaugh later questioned why insurance should cover contraception and played a portion of Fluke's testimony laying out the problems many college-age women face paying for contraception. He asked, “Ms. Fluke, have you ever heard of not having sex? Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?”
After saying that the Washington, D.C., Department of Health “will send you free condoms and lube,” Limbaugh said: “So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
After discussing outrage over his comments, Limbaugh again attacked Fluke, asking: “Who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade? Or your contraception. Who bought your contraceptive pills in high school?”
Critics of Limbaugh's comments have pointed to the strength Fluke demonstrated by testifying before Congress, particularly given Limbaugh's attacks on her. Limbaugh responded to those critics by saying that Fluke is “having so much sex, it's amazing she can still walk.” He also said Georgetown should establish a “Wilt Chamberlin scholarship ... exclusively for women.”
Limbaugh read from a Washington Post blog post that reported Fluke had been interested in contraceptive coverage even before she enrolled at Georgetown. Because of this, Limbaugh declared, “She's a plant -- an anti-Catholic plant from the get-go on this.”
Limbaugh also purported to explain the issue of contraceptive coverage in a “simple way” by saying: “It's just a new welfare program. And 'welfare' is a bad word, and they can't use it. They can't sell it. So now it's disguised -- welfare disguised as women's health. Or women's reproductive rights.”
Limbaugh went on to say that Fluke's testimony was part of a “Democrat plot” to “create a new welfare program and, at the same time, try to cast Republicans in an election year as anti-female.” He described Fluke as “a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her life woman. She wants all the sex in the world whenever she wants it, all the time, no consequences. No responsibility for her behavior.”
On March 2, Limbaugh defended his previous comments about Fluke and complained that “not one person says that, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?' ”
Later, Limbaugh said that requiring insurance companies to cover contraception is “no different than if somebody knocked on my door that I don't know and said, 'You know what? I'm out of money. I can't afford birth-control pills, and I'm supposed to have sex with three guys tonight.' ”
Referring to his remark on March 1 that women who have contraceptive coverage should post sex videos online, Limbaugh suggested everyone should “realize that we're illustrating absurdity here by being absurd” and that people should “lighten up.”
Fluke said on March 2 that she got a call from President Obama telling her that her parents should be proud of her. Limbaugh said, “I'm gonna button my lip on that one.” He went on to say that if his daughter had testified that “she's having so much sex she can't pay for it and wants a new welfare program to pay for it,” he'd be “embarrassed” and “disconnect the phone,” “go into hiding,” and “hope the media didn't find me.”
After considering the meaning of feminism, Limbaugh offered a definition of his “misogynist” : “a man who hates women almost as much as women hate women.” He clarified: “I do not hate women.”
After complaining that the media were not covering the story accurately, Limbaugh said, “Oh! Does she have more boyfriends? They're lined up around the block. They would have been in my day.”
Limbaugh went on to say that Fluke testified that her “sex life is active. She's having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth-control pills that she needs. That's what she's saying.”
On March 3, Limbaugh posted a statement about the controversy on his website:
For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.
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 March 5 edition of ABC's The View, Fluke said of Limbaugh's statement: “I don't think that a statement like this, issued saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything. Especially when that statement is issued when he's under significant pressure from his sponsors, who have begun to pull their support from his show.”
Limbaugh opened his March 5 broadcast by explaining why he apologized to Fluke in his statement, saying: “I don't expect -- and I know you don't either -- morality, intellectual honesty from the left. They've demonstrated over and over a willingness to say or do anything to advance their agenda. It's what they do. It's what we fight against here every day. But this is the mistake I made: In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error.”
He continued, "[T]hose two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her." He went on to say, “I do not think she is either of those two words” and stressed that his statement about the controversy on Saturday was “heartfelt” and “sincere.”
Limbaugh later argued that Fluke's testimony was “inexpert” and “unverified” and claimed that the Democrats “used” Fluke “to create a controversy” and that Fluke “used them to advance her agenda, which is to force a religious institution to abandon their principles in order to meet hers.” He then stated: “I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. ... It was wrong, and that's why I have apologized.”
Limbaugh also addressed the companies that have decided to end or suspend advertising on his program, saying to his listeners: “They've decided they don't want you or your business anymore. So be it.” He added: “This show is about you. It's not about the advertisers.”
Limbaugh later stated that he “rejects millions of dollars of advertising a year ... including, I might add, General Motors.” He then told his listeners that “those advertisers who no longer want your business” will be replaced and added: “Advertising is a business decision, it's not a social one. Only the leftists try to use extortion, pressure, threats to silence opposing voices. We don't do that.”
Limbaugh complained that Walmart was being treated unfairly, despite its commitment to helping provide the poor with healthy food. He then asked, “What is it with all of these young, single white women? Overeducated doesn't mean intelligent.” He said an “example” is Tracie McMillan, who wrote a book on food justice.
Limbaugh closed the show by saying, “Even for a moment, when I slip up like I did and talk like a Democrat, you know that I don't really think like one. Even when I slip up and sound like 'em, which is not very often, you know that's not me. And therefore, you're able to keep everything in perspective. I love you for it.”
After discussing Rep. Dennis Kucinich's loss in an Ohio congressional primary, Limbaugh said: "[S]ome people say it's always great to see Kucinich's wife. I've never seen Kucinich's wife. So I don't know what -- I've had three people say, 'I'm really gonna miss her more than I'm gonna miss him.' Really? She's a babe? I don't notice babes anymore. I have one. And as such, I don't notice 'em."
Later in the show, Limbaugh asked, “By the way, what is the exit strategy for the war on women? Just thinking about it. The exit strategy is every -- you mean every GOP male candidate defeated? Is that what you mean? Well, I'm just wondering, when do you pull out in the war on women? Definition of victory. How do you define it? What's the exit strategy?”
Limbaugh launched another attack on a woman: this time, Washington Post blogger Alexandra Petri. He said she had incorrectly reported that his show accepted advertisments from the Ashley Madison website. Limbaugh said, “Ms. Petri, I don't know who feeds you your information -- I have a pretty good guess. But you might want to double-check here, because you've written something that's patently false. It's an out-and-out lie, complete with your b-i-itchy opinion in it, and it is untrue.” (Petri published a post after Limbaugh's show that apologized for her error, but wondered why Limbaugh couldn't have simply pointed out the inaccuracy without “impugning” her.)
Limbaugh returned to attacking author Tracie McMillan. The previous day, he said she was an example of a “young, single white wom[a]n” who is “overeducated.” Today, he referred to her as a “recently college-graduated authorette.”
Limbaugh attacked a Reuters article about the newest jobs report as biased and designed to help President Obama. Limbaugh referred to the woman who wrote the article as “the infobabe or the reporter, whoever, who wrote the story with tongue hanging out.” He then made panting noises and said she had been “eager and panting away for Obama's success.”