Until last year, ‘slut’ was rarely, if ever, heard in broadcast. Though it was never a banned word by regulatory ages, it has the air of just being plain icky. After a widely-publicized gaffe by a Toronto police officer, however, the international Slutwalk was born by the feminist movement.
Since then, ‘slut’ seems to have lost its effect. It’s been used by commentators and on-air personalities more freely than ever before as the word seems to have become more tame. That is, perhaps, why I didn’t think much of it when Rush Limbaugh used the term to describe 30-year old law student Sandra Fluke after she testified before Congress on the need for contraceptives to be classified as a vital medical necessity.
Unfortunately for Limbaugh, that single word–regardless of context and tone–became the root of hundreds of headlines around the world, shifting the contraceptive debate away from the issues and onto Limbaugh. The Washington Post called it ‘hate speech‘ while The Guardian accused Limbaugh of slander. As a result, several of Limbaugh’s advertisers have suspended their ads, including long-time sponsor Carbonite.
Rush Limbaugh’s monologue and follow-up on Fluke solved one problem, but created another. Limbaugh did what many on the right had failed to do, which was take the debate away from the merits and morality of contraception and onto the broader subject of whether or not anyone should be forced to pay for it but the individual using it. However, by calling Fluke a slut, he pushed the media away from the actual topic at hand onto a debate about semantics.
Limbaugh went further in his comments than I would have, but Fluke deserves no apology because, at the very core of her arguments, she wants her sex-life to be financed by others. Perhaps she’s not a slut, but she is a cheapskate. A leech, if you will. The remarks even led Obama to make a personal call of support to Fluke, calling Limbaugh’s remarks “reprehensible.” (We can assume he also extended the same courtesy to Laura Ingraham, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Michelle Malkin when each of those women were called sluts in the mainstream media.)
Today, Limbaugh posted a statement on his website, in which he said:
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.
He went on to explain that he regrets his language, not the criticism of Fluke’s agenda. However, response from the Left on Limbaugh’s apology reveals that it was the criticism itself that they hated, the language was merely an easy excuse to target the broadcaster. The liberal ThinkProgress responded to Limbaugh’s apology saying that it “furthers [his] sexist attack.”
Many liberal commentators weighed in via Twitter, none of which accepted the apology, nor even commended Limbaugh for making it. The fact is that the only thing a political apology accomplishes is more negative publicity for the apologist. No one will change their opinion of Rush for the better over his statement. No one changed their opinion of Rush because of his remarks on Fluke. Rather, those remarks became a premise available to his existing detractors to continue to defame him.
The reality that Carbonite ended their long-term sponsorship of The Rush Limbaugh Show after his apology shows how useless the apology was on the advertising front, just as the media’s coverage shows how it didn’t win Limbaugh the PR battle either.
Sandra Fluke has yet to respond to the apology, but it’s highly unlikely that her mind will be changed by it either. That being said, her lack of response is likely due to consulting with the
White House advisers on a plan of action. By accepting the apology, she would be painted as gracious and forgiven, while Limbaugh would look even worse.
No one on the Left will start buying EIB products or tuning in to America’s Anchorman because of his apology. His comments about Fluke were harsh, but no more so than what’s been said about Limbaugh by those in and out of the media over the past decade.
On the upside, the U.S. now has that national DNA bank that’s always been discussed: Sandra Fluke’s uterus.