Behind the Buzz: How the Rush Limbaugh Vs. Sandra Fluke Media Firestorm Spread

Always incendiary, Rush Limbaugh really started a firestorm this time. As you know, his radio show has lost 46 advertisers and counting since he called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut.”

But the fallout has extended well beyond lost advertising, even after Limbaugh apologized over the weekend and again on Monday. For starters, Limbaugh’s apology continues to be lambasted for not being authentic—and the story has since spread to the point where GOP candidates are being similarly tarnished with a “war against women” media narrative. That angle picked up steam yesterday on the UN’s International Women’s Day, when the Washington Post ran a piece suggesting Obama might not be averse to seeing that storyline promoted.

Where will the story lead next? Will Limbaugh milk the controversy for publicity, as some columnists expect? Or might he even be shown the door at Clear Channel, as others speculate? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick breakdown of how it all went down:

  • February 23: Fluke testifies criticizing the health insurance policies of Georgetown University.
  • February 23-February 28: Conservative media and blogs attack Fluke. This includes a Hot Air story titled, “Georgetown co-ed: Please pay for us to have sex… We’re going broke buying birth control.”
  • February 29: Limbaugh enters the fray, ripping Fluke on his show and suggesting that she wants the government to subsidize her sex life. In the process, he calls her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
  • March 1: Limbaugh defends his assertions.
  • March 2: Advertisers begin to talk about pulling support from the show.
  • March 2: Fluke gets a call of support from President Obama.
  • March 3: Limbaugh apologizes to Fluke online. Meanwhile, GOP candidates such as Santorum distance themselves from Limbaugh.
  • March 5: Fluke rejects Limbaugh’s apology, even after he apologizes publicly yet again.
  • March 6: Following AOL’s lead, 12 companies pull advertising from Limbaugh’s show.
  • March 7: The number of advertisers reaches 46 and counting.
  • March 8: The “war on women” angle gains steam on International Women’s Day.




  1. Greg on March 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Yet Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin the “c-word” and rips Michelle Bachmann, calling her a slut. Obama takes $ 1 million from his for his super pac.

    By the way…did Maher apologize?NO! Does the liberal media report this?

    • Chris on March 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      I’m always amazed by the Bill Maher retort. Yes, Bill Maher’s comments are offensive. That doesn’t change the fact that Maher’s comments were directed at a public figure, whereas Rush attacked a private individual (for 3 days) whose only foray into the limelight was testifying in Congress. Furthermore, I can’t think of a single politician who takes Bill Maher seriously or worries whether or not they stay on his good side. On the flip side, a number of politicians have demonstrated a need to walk a careful line when dealing with Rush. Limbaugh actually influences our political process, Bill Maher clearly doesn’t. Finally, Maher is a comedian who reaches a relatively small audience with his HBO show (pay cable) versus Rush, who has the largest radio audience in the US.

      Maher is a jerk, but his language has no real impact and his victims (Palin & Bachmann) have the ability to respond easily through the media. Hell, either of them could go on Maher’s show and confront him directly. Does that hold true for Fluke? I don’t think so.

      The Obama comment reveals that you’re relying on talking points to make your argument. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of your post.