After bleeding sponsors for the past couple of days it seems Rush Limbaugh has taken stock of what he said last week and issued a "statement." I call it a statement and not an apology because it really isn't much of an apology. Here's the full text.
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.
Let's take this apart a little bit. We begin with "illustrated the absurd with absurdity..." This is the excuse he always uses for whatever he says. He is an entertainer, entertaining. Yes, because it's so entertaining to suggest that hungry children dumpster-dive for their dinner. Or to call those hungry children "waifs and serfs dependent on the state." Or saying he hopes President Obama fails.
Har-dee-har-har, Rushbo. It's not funny, nor was it intended to be funny. Not even a little bit.
On to the second paragraph, which is where he shows plainly that he did not intend a real, true apology. By framing contraception as something for a "social activity," he endeavors to minimize and trivialize women's health needs. Yes, contraception is used to prevent pregnancy, for married and single women. But Sandra Fluke's testimony very specifically pointed to other uses for it, including treatment of PCOS (an incredibly debilitating condition), endometriosis, pelvic inflammation, ovarian cysts, and other conditions specific to women. Further, some women use it to actually regulate their cycles so they can become pregnant. Some young women use it to treat acne!
These are not social. These are not recreational. These are serious health issues. They matter, and they should be covered as part of health insurance that provides basic benefits. Rush Limbaugh intentionally tried to frame this as a debate about sex when it was never a debate about sex. He did it, and Fox News picked up the banner and marched forward with it to the point where now the "slut" meme has been echoed all over the Internet by the far-right wing.
I wonder, would he find it a joking matter if cholesterol medications were removed from a list of basic benefits? Or heart stents? Or blood thinners? They aren't optional for someone who is at risk of a heart attack.
His attack on a private citizen named Sandra Fluke was reprehensible, but the real damage done is the misinformation he spread about why contraception is a health issue, why it should be deemed a basic benefit in any health insurance policy, and why women should have affordable access to it.
So no. This isn't an apology. It's an excuse for being a bully, and it's exactly what I'd expect a bully to say when he suffers some peripheral consequences for his bullying. Here's a real apology for using the same ugly language as Rush Limbaugh did. Once, not over the course of three days. Compare and contrast.
Update:Carbonite CEO David Friend didn't think much of Limbaugh's apology either. This was just posted on Carbonite's Facebook page:
“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. 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. 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.”