After a media and political firestorm, Rush Limbaugh issued an apology on Saturday for calling student Sandra Fluke a "slut" on his radio show this week.
Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University who was advocating for health insurance plans to cover the cost of contraception, became the target of a series of attacks by Limbaugh. Besides calling her a "slut," he also called her a "prostitute," said that he wanted her to make sex tapes and post them online, and speculated that she only had a problem paying for contraception because she was having "so much sex."
Limbaugh — who has a long history of making incendiary remarks, and is not known to take them back — issued the rare apology on Saturday afternoon, saying he was "sincerely" sorry about his "insulting" characterization of Fluke. But he maintained that the birth control debate was about "personal sexual recreational activities," not any broader health questions, and compared contraception to sneakers.
Even as he walked back his comment, though, there were signs that Limbaugh is not out of the woods yet. Another advertiser, Carbonite, posted a message on Facebook saying that it was ending its sponsorship of his show.
"No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady," CEO David Friend wrote. "Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show."
And at least one organization wasn't buying Limbaugh's choice of words.
"Rush's apology wasn't actually an apology," said Shaunna Thomas, a co-founder of UltraViolet, an online advocacy organization that does grassroots work on women's issues. "He did little more than continue to expose himself as the anti-woman and offensive media personality that he is. Our campaign to pressure advertisers to drop their sponsorship of his show will continue next week. No radio show that attacks women should be rewarded with advertising dollars. And more than 84,000 of our members who signed a petition in the last day agree."
Below, read Limbaugh's apology in full:
"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."
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He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting.
In 2007, Limbaugh was criticized for referring to veterans who support the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq as "phony soldiers." He later claimed that he had been referring to people who claimed to be veterans but never actually served in the military.
In 2007 and 2008, Limbaugh played a song by "Barack the Magic Negro" that was written and recorded for his show. In the song, political satirist Paul Shanklin impersonates Al Sharpton singing that white people will vote for Barack Obama "'cause he's not from the hood."
In the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami in March 2011, Limbaugh said:
The Japanese have done so much to save the planet. He's right. They've given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are still recycling their garbage, and yet Gaia levels them [laughs], just wipes them out. Wipes out their nuclear plants, all kinds of radiation. What kind of payback is this? That is an excellent question.
In October 2011, Limbaugh described Kraft's new Triple Double Oreo as a "bi-racial cookie" and an "Or-Ba-Meo." This was not the first time Limbaugh has compared President Obama to an Oreo cookie. In a 2009 segment about food safety advocates, he said, "After that, they're gonna want the Oreos -- might have to put off until Obama's out of office."
In November 2011, Limbaugh accused Michelle Obama -- whom he frequently refers to as Moochelle -- of "uppityism" after she and Jill Biden were booed by NASCAR fans.
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In November 2010, Limbaugh suggested that Rep. Jim Clyburn could chauffeur Nancy Pelosi if he failed to win the race for House minority whip. "He gets to keep the car. He gets to go everywhere she goes, parties and everything else," Limbaugh said. "He's not in the back of the bus. He's in the driver's seat, and she's in the back of the car being chauffeured. Solved problem."
Rush Limbaugh attacked Michelle Obama for her weight, calling her out for eating ribs on a trip with her daughters. "The problem is, and I dare say this, it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice," Limbaugh said. "And then we hear that she's out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving and 141 grams of fat per serving." He continued, "I'm trying to say our first lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months, or what have you."
Rush Limbaugh was back with another hit out on Michelle Obama's weight, days after criticizing her eating ribs while on vacation. This time, his comment was even more incendiary. "The point is, if you'ree going to do this, if you are going to tell everyone to eat twigs and berries and gravel and all this other stuff, you had better look like an Ethiopian."
After Herman Cain won the Florida straw poll, Limbaugh said that if elected president, "Herman Cain could be our first authentically black president." After explaining the comment to a caller, Limbaugh turned to his call screen "Bo Snerdley" (real name James Golden) for an Ebonics skit. RNC chair Michael Steele later called the skit "stupid."
In February 2012, Limbaugh reacted to the national debate about contraception with on a long rant about contraception, abortions and women. He alleged that Planned Parenthood is "a money-laundering operation for the Democrat party," and said, "The vast majority of people having abortions are Democrat voters."