A growing list of groups and individuals have denounced Rush Limbaugh in the wake of his vicious attack on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified before Congress recently about the problems caused when women lack access to contraception. The popular right-wing radio host has unleashed a torrent of misogynistic comments directed at Fluke over the past few days, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute,” and demanding: “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.”
A number of prominent figures -- including Republican and Democratic members of Congress, as well as the president of Georgetown University -- are condemning Limbaugh for his remarks:
House Speaker John Boehner
Boehner Spokesman: “The Speaker Obviously Believes The Use Of Those Words Was Inappropriate.” CNN reported:
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner on Friday said the top Republican condemns a controversial comment made by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh but also disagrees with those who launched fundraising efforts over the remark.
“The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation,” Michael Steel, Boehner's spokesman, told CNN. [CNN.com, 3/2/12]
NRSC Vice Chairman Carly Fiorina
National Republican Senatorial Committee Vice-Chairman Carly Fiorina: Limbaugh Comments Were “Insulting” And “Incendiary.” On CBS News, Fiorina stated:
FIORINA: That language is insulting, in my opinion. It's incendiary and most of all, it's a distraction. It's a distraction from what are very real and important issues. You know, the Senate had an important vote yesterday. There are some who are calling this a vote on a woman's right to choose and a women's access to contraception. I think that's fundamentally backwards. This is a vote about protecting the conscience clause, which used to have broad bipartisan support. That's a hugely important issue in this country. So those kinds of comments are completely distracting. [CBS News, 3/2/12]
Sen. John McCain
Sen. John McCain: Limbaugh's Comments Are “Unacceptable In Every Way.” In an interview on CBS' This Morning, Sen. John McCain told Charlie Rose that Limbaugh's statements were “unacceptable in every way”:
McCAIN: [Limbaugh] has influence, because he has a strong conservative base. I know that. But those statements were unacceptable in every way and should be condemned by everyone no matter what their political leanings are. [CBS, This Morning, 3/5/12]
In an appearance on CNN's Starting Point, McCain called the remarks “totally unacceptable, totally and completely unacceptable.” McCain added: “There's no place for it.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I'm A Little Bit Disappointed That There Hasn't Been Greater Condemnation Of His Words By People In Leadership Positions.” Talking Points Memo reported that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was “stunned” by Limbaugh's comments and that she called them “incendiary.” From TPM:
“The comments made by Limbaugh, I was just stunned,” she added. “In the end, I'm a little bit disappointed that there hasn't been greater condemnation of his words by people in leadership positions.”
Including Republicans? “Everybody,” she responded. “What he said was just wrong. Just wrong.” [Talking Points Memo, 3/6/12]
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: Limbaugh's Comments Were Disrespectful, “Vicious,” And “Outside The Circle Of Civilized Discussion.” In a joint statement with House Democrats, including Reps. Louise Slaughter, Rosa DeLauro, Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Carolyn Maloney, Elijah Cummings and Diana DeGette, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement condemning Limbaugh's “vicious and inappropriate attacks”:
“When Sandra Fluke testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee after Republicans attempted to silence her, she courageously spoke truth to power. As a result, today, she has been subject to attacks that are outside the circle of civilized discussion and that unmask the strong disrespect for women held by some in this country. We call upon the Republican leaders in the House to condemn these vicious attacks on Ms. Fluke, which are in response to her testimony to the Congress. Democrats will always stand up for women's health and women's voices.” [Nancy Pelosi's Congressional Office, 2/29/12]
Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Rep. Carolyn Maloney: Limbaugh's Comments Are “An Attempt To Silence People That Are Speaking For Women.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) told the Huffington Post she was “aghast” at the comments:
“I am just aghast,” she told The Huffington Post on Thursday. "If the far right can attack people like Sandra Fluke, women are going to be afraid to speak because they're going to be called terrible words. It's an attempt to silence people that are speaking out for women." [The Huffington Post, 3/1/2012]
Maloney also put out a statement calling Limbaugh's comments “hateful,” “despicable” and “a new low in a season of lows.”
Rep. Steny Hoyer
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer: Limbaugh's Attack “Was Beyond The Pail, Indefensible, Vicious, And Intimidating To Others.” NBC News reported that Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) blasted Limbaugh's attack as “beyond the pail, indefensible, vicious, and intimidating to others who might want to, in a very honest fashion, testify before the Congress of the United States.” NBC further reported:
Hoyer said his frustration with Limbaugh goes beyond the issue of contraceptives. In my view, forget about the issue itself, this was an absolutely outrageous treatment of a young woman who had the opportunity to come before members of Congress and give her opinion of importance to women's health," Hoyer said.
“But I will tell you, I have three daughters, and if he had treated one of my daughters that way I would have been even more outraged than I am for Sandra Fluke,” Hoyer continued, “To treat people in a way that is so outrageous.” [NBC News, 3/6/12]
Sen. Maria Cantwell
Sen. Maria Cantwell: Limbaugh's Comments Were “Very Inappropriate And Should Be Repudiated.” During an appearance on MSNBC to discuss contraception coverage, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said:
There is no call for those kinds of comments. Those are very inappropriate and they should be repudiated by lots of people. This is about something that women have fought for and guaranteed the right to get access. [MSNBC, 3/1/12]
Rep. Judy Chu
Rep. Judy Chu Condemned Limbaugh's “Hateful Rhetoric” And “Filth.” Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) released a statement condemning Limbaugh “hateful rhetoric,” adding:
What's truly sad is the fact that this man thrives on this kind of filth - it's how he makes his living. While most Americans work hard and want only to have equal access to health insurance as part of their compensation, and while Ms. Fluke wanted only to stand up for those hardworking Americans' right to equal access to health insurance, Limbaugh wants only to distort the truth for his ditto head audience. [“Congresswoman Chu Denounces Vicious Attacks Against Sandra Fluke,” 3/1/12, via Asian American Action Fund]
Georgetown University President John DeGioia
Georgetown President: Limbaugh's Comments “Can Only Be Described As Misogynistic, Vitriolic, And A Misrepresentation Of The Position Of Our Student.” In a statement responding to what university officials called “Limbaugh's on-air slurs,” Georgetown University President John DeGioia said:
One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position -- including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels -- responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student. [Letter From Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, accessed 3/2/12, via ReligionDispatches.org]
Democratic Lawmakers: Limbaugh Comments Were “Sexually Charged, Patently Offensive, And Obscene.” More than 75 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner expressing outrage over Limbaugh's comments. According to the letter published by Rep. Louise Slaughter:
“On his February 29, 2012 show, Mr. Limbaugh repeatedly used sexually charged, patently offensive, and obscene language to malign the character of this courageous young woman who has chosen to be the voice for many of her peers,” the letter says. “This kind of direct attack on a private citizen is unacceptable. Mr. Limbaugh is as free as any American to speak his mind about the political and social issues of our time, but using his radio show as a means for blatantly insulting a hard-working American with obscene and indecent language because he disagrees with her personal choices is an abuse of the public airwaves.” [Letter to House Speaker John Boehner, 3/1/12]
George W. Bush Speechwriter David Frum
George W. Bush Speechwriter David Frum: Limbaugh Comments Were "[W]rong! Appalling!" Asked about Limbaugh's comments in an email interview with Media Matters' Joe Strupp, Frum wrote:
Well obviously it was wrong! Appalling!
I feel sorry for the young woman, the first time you encounter this kind of large-scale personal attack, of course it hurts.
And it's destructive too, because on the merits - should religious institutions be allowed to follow their consciences in providing health services- Georgetown U is in the right [Media Matters interview, 3/2/12]
Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum
Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum: "[I]t Was Stupid and Sexist, Obviously." In a phone interview with Strupp, Sullum said of the comments: “I don't really listen to his show much. He is deliberately inflammatory, it was stupid and sexist, obviously, all he knows about her is that apparently she has sex.” Sullum also said that Limbaugh “wouldn't say that about a man who had sex, it is gratuitously sexist.” He later called the comments “outrageous, deliberately outrageous” and “needlessly inflammatory.” [Media Matters interview, 3/2/12]
Conservative Columnist Kathleen Parker
Washington Post Columnist Kathleen Parker: Rush Limbaugh's Criticisms Of Sandra Fluke Are “Vile”, “Revolting”, And “Deserve Our Contempt.” Asked about Limbaugh's comments in an email with Media Matters' Joe Strupp, Parker wrote:
Rush Limbaugh's vile remarks about Sandra Fluke were repugnant on their face. But there's another dimension to his behavior that deserves our contempt. He has a huge platform to express his views and decades of experience, yet he attacked a young woman half his age in the most revolting terms, sexualizing his criticisms of her. It is simply appalling that he would use his enormous power and status to demean a relatively defenseless young woman who was merely voicing her opinion as he does every day. I can't imagine what kind of people found his comments entertaining, but I hope they are few. [e-mail to Media Matters, 3/2/12]
Fluke: No Woman Deserves To Be Disrespected In This Manner." Fluke herself issued this statement, saying she “will not be silenced”:
“I thank the thousands of women and men, including members of Congress, Georgetown University students and faculty, and total strangers of all political stripes across the country who have offered kind words and support following recent egregious personal attacks.
”We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone is entitled to their own opinions regarding legitimate policy differences. Unfortunately, numerous commentators have gone far beyond the acceptable bounds of civil discourse.
"No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices.
“The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women's health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.” [Statement of Sandra Fluke, 3/1/12, via Media Matters]
Sen. Scott Brown
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA): “Rush Limbaugh's Comments Are Reprehensible. He Should Apologize.” From a March 2 Twitter statement by Senator Scott Brown (R-MA):
Washington Post Editorial Writers
Washington Post Editorial Writer Charles Lane: In 30 Years Covering Politics, “I Can't Remember A More Hateful Outburst From A Public Figure That Was Less Possible To Justify.” From the March 2 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
CHARLES LANE: I think we should not talk so much about the politics of this and just talk about it on a human level. I have been covering politics and stuff in Washington for 30 years and I can't remember a more hateful outburst from a public figure that was less possible to justify by any political disagreement. What Rush Limbaugh said was really unworthy of decent political discourse. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 3/2/12, via Media Matters]
Washington Post Editorial Board: Republican Leaders “Have A Responsibility To Repudiate” Rush Limbaugh And His Comments. From a March 2 post by the Washington Post Editorial Board entitled “The GOP can no longer avoid its Rush Limbaugh problem”:
In a democracy, standards of civil discourse are as important as they are indefinable. Yet wherever one draws the line, Rush Limbaugh's vile rants against Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke crossed it. Mr. Limbaugh is angry at President Obama's efforts to require the provision of contraception under employer-paid health insurance and the White House's attempts to make some political hay out of the policy. His way of showing this anger was to smear Ms. Fluke, who approached Congress to support the plan, as a “slut” seeking a government subsidy for her promiscuity.
What we are saying is that Mr. Limbaugh has abused his unique position within the conservative media to smear and vilify a citizen engaged in the exercise of her First Amendment rights, and in the process he debased a national political discourse that needs no further debasing. This is not the way a decent citizen behaves, much less a citizen who wields significant de facto power in a major political party. While Republican leaders owe no apology for Mr. Limbaugh's comments, they do have a responsibility to repudiate them -- and him. [Washington Post, 3/2/12]
Musician Peter Gabriel
Musician Peter Gabriel Blasts Comments As “Unfair Aggressive And Ignorant.” After reportedly learning that his music has been used during broadcasts of The Rush Limbaugh Show, the following update was posted on the Facebook page of musician Peter Gabriel: