Will Sandra Fluke sue Rush Limbaugh for calling her ‘a slut’?

When Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke 'a slut' and a 'prostitute,' he set off a firestorm of criticism. Some advertisers are leaving Limbaugh's show.

Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau/AP
In this 2010 photo, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh speaks during a Miss America news conference at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Limbaugh has drawn fire for his depiction of a college student as a "slut" because she testified before Congress about the need for contraceptive coverage.

Rush Limbaugh’s diatribes against Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who spoke out about contraception, continue to roil the political environment. And it may be nicking the bottom line for the conservative talk show personality who draws millions of listeners daily.

Republicans, already facing a potential problem with many female voters over a controversial issue, are scrambling to respond – distancing themselves from a powerful voice among many of the party faithful. House Speaker John Boehner and GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney put out statements – although the tone seemed grudging.

US Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who faces what could be a tough re-election campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, says Limbaugh should apologize for calling Ms. Fluke “a slut,” “a prostitute,” and one of his signature slurs “a feminazi.”

But Limbaugh, who’s made himself very wealthy with his bloviating conservative commentary and mocking wise cracks, shows no sign of backing off, recently targeting other women as well for his ridicule.

When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi organized a meeting to hear Ms. Fluke’s testimony, Limbaugh referred to the former House Speaker as “Botox-filled.” When racecar driver Danica Patrick voiced her support of President Obama’s rule regarding contraception, Limbaugh said, “What would you expect from a woman driver?”

Whether or not it will make any difference to Limbaugh’s operation is unclear, but several advertisers on his syndicated radio show have pulled their ads and more are considering it.

Select Comfort, which sells Sleep Number mattresses, tweeted: "Recent comments by RUSH LIMBAUGH do not align w/our values, so we made decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program." 

Quicken Loans announced; “Due to continued inflammatory comments – along w/valuable feedback from clients & team members – QL has suspended ads on RUSH LIMBAUGH program."

On Facebook, the Citrix computer systems company announced, "We have listened to our customers & have decided to cease our advertising on The RUSH LIMBAUGH Show immediately."

Pro Flowers told Twitter followers: "Rest assured, your feedback is heard. We heard about the comments and we will reevaluate our marketing plan."

Carbonite CEO David Friend intends to confront Limbaugh directly. He posted this open letter to his customers:

“Over the past two days we have received a tremendous amount of feedback on Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments.  I too am offended and very concerned about his comments.  Limbaugh’s remarks have us rethinking our future use of talk radio.  
 “We use more than 40 talk show hosts to help get the Carbonite message out to the public.  The nature of talk radio is that from time to time listeners are offended by a host and ask that we pull our advertising. This goes for conservatives like Limbaugh and progressives like Stephanie Miller and Ed Shultz. We even get customers who demand that we pull the plug on NPR.   As an advertiser, we do not have control over a show’s editorial content or what they say on air. Carbonite does not endorse the opinions of the shows or their hosts. 
 “However, the outcry over Limbaugh is the worst we’ve ever seen. I have scheduled a face-to-face meeting next week with Limbaugh during which I will impress upon him that his comments were offensive to many of our customers and employees alike. Please know your voice has been heard and that we are taking this matter very seriously.”

Democrats, who try to portray Limbaugh as the voice of the Republican Party, see the recent kerfuffle as part of the GOP’s “war on women.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) of New York has suggested that legal action might be taken, particularly since Fluke is a private citizen and therefore might more easily win a charge of slander than would a public figure – an elected official or entertainer.

“I’ve certainly been told I might have a case, but it’s not something I’ve made any decisions about at this point,” Fluke told Allison Yarrow of Newsweek’s The Daily Beast.

It’s not only a fight for women, Fluke told Yarrow.

“Men are on board,” she said. “A lot of them write to me. They say ‘I support you. I’m doing this for my granddaughters.’ They really do care.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.