For a self-styled pull-no-punches talk-show host, Rush Limbaugh sure used a lot of weasel words and pablum phrases in his “apology.” Apparently, Rush was embarrassed not by what he said—calling a bright and courageous young woman a “slut” and a “prostitute” and demanding that she make sex tapes for public enjoyment—but by the financial consequences of losing advertisers, in droves.
Rush posted this wimpy, defensive, and self-justifying statement. Let’s look at what he said, point by point:
For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.
He tries to portray himself as a gadfly—yet he is taken seriously by mainstream media as a political commentator, has helped to build a massive movement of ultraconservatives, and has frequently turned to inflammatory speech to make his points (see this list of 19 Rushisms).
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 can’t ascribe motive, but it’s hard to believe Rush wouldn’t notice that he engaged in the lowest of low personal attacks, two days running. He went out of his way to shame Sandra Fluke not once, but twice. First calling her a prostitute because she testified in favor of funding contraception, and the next day saying that she owed the American public some sex videos so they could watch what they had paid for. The original comment was made on Wednesday, but he waited until Sunday to post his statement—while advertisers fled from the show.
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.
Ironically, Fluke wasn’t even talking about sex. She was actually testifying about the medical need of some women to treat certain conditions with contraceptives.
I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities.
Again, this doesn’t sound like much of an apology. And funny—I don’t hear Mr. Limbaugh objecting to health insurance covering Viagra. Do we have a bit of a double standard here?
What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?
Good question. Rush, where is YOUR personal responsibility and accountability, beyond grudgingly admitting, “I chose the wrong words” while denying that you intended a personal attack? This does not pass the smell test.
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?
Good old-fashioned red herring/reductio ad absurdum strategy. Just the sort of thing we’d expect in a “sincere” apology, right? Not exactly contrite. But classic Rush.
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.
We could take this more seriously if it weren’t for Rush’s long public history of crude and grossly homophobic or sexist remarks. He claims that a pro-choice position is an attempt by “militant feminists” to “impose their will on the rest of society, particularly on men.”
A few of his most homophobic remarks show that he has no hesitation about using crude bedroom humor. Apparently he did think bedroom behavior was his business when he said, “Imagine we identify the gene…that will tell us prior to birth that a baby is going to be gay… and the parents say ‘Nope, don’t wanna give birth to that child’…Bam. So we abort the kid.”
My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.
For a man not known for understatement, “not the best” is simply laughable. How about “deeply offensive”?
I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
That might count as sincere on the day the Pope converts to Buddhism. A real apology shows understanding of the wrong committed, contrition, and a promise not to do it again I don’t see any of that in Rush’s statement.
Rush’s so-called apology reminds me of a second-grader whose teacher interrupts a fight. Instead of apologizing, the kid says, “But he started it.” And just as no second-grade teacher would accept that as valid, we should not accept Rush’s too-little, too-late defensiveness as anything resembling a genuine apology.
Shel Horowtiz is the author of “Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers,” “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green” and six other books. He is also an internationally syndicated columnist. Shel also speaks on book publishing/marketing, green business/green marketing, ethical business success.