Host says comments toward law student ‘not the best’ choice
WASHINGTON – Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh apologized Saturday to a Georgetown University law student he had branded a “slut” and “prostitute” after fellow Republicans as well as Democrats criticized him and several advertisers left his program.
The student, Sandra Fluke, had testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health care policy that would compel her college to offer health plans that cover her birth control.
“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” Limbaugh said on his website. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Attempts to reach Fluke by telephone and email were unsuccessful.
Fluke had been invited to testify to a House committee about her school’s health care plan that does not include contraception. Republican lawmakers barred her from testifying during that hearing, but Democrats invited her back and she spoke to the Democratic lawmakers at an unofficial session.
President Barack Obama, whose landmark health care overhaul requires many institutions to provide birth control coverage, telephoned her from the Oval Office on Friday to express his support.
Limbaugh was not swayed by Fluke’s statements before the House panel.
He said on Wednesday, “What does it say about the college coed … who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”
He dug in a day later, refusing to give ground.
“If we’re going to have to pay for this, then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke,” Limbaugh said. “And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we’re getting for our money.”
He also asked the 30-year-old Fluke: “Who bought your condoms in junior high?”
And on Friday, still defiant even after Democrats beat back Republican challenges to the new health care law, Limbaugh scoffed at the Democrats’ talk of a conservative “war on women.”
By Saturday, six advertisers had pulled sponsorship of Limbaugh’s show and Republicans distanced themselves from the comments.
Limbaugh decided to yield late Saturday.
“For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week,” Limbaugh said in his statement. “In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.”
But he also said the entire debate was “absolutely absurd.”
“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,” he said.
Some advertisers still planned to abandon Limbaugh.
“Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show,” Carbonite CEO David Friend said on his company’s Facebook page. “We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
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