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Sandra Fluke: Rush Limbaugh's apology doesn't change anything

March 05, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Sandra Fluke, center, speaks as co-hosts Joy Behar, left, and Sherri Shepherd listen during an appearance on the daytime talk show, "The View," Monday in New York.
Sandra Fluke, center, speaks as co-hosts Joy Behar, left, and Sherri Shepherd… (Lou Rocco, ABC / Associated…)

Reporting from Washington — Two days after Rush Limbaugh issued a tepid apology to Sandra Fluke, the woman whom he called a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her advocacy for expansion of access to birth control, Fluke dismissed Limbaugh's statement as insufficient.

The 30-year-old Georgetown law student noted in a Monday appearance on "The View" that Limbaugh had only apologized for his choice of words, as she sought to refocus the discussion on access to contraceptives being a matter of women's rights.

“I don’t think that a statement like this, issued saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything,” Fluke said. “Especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors, who have begun to pull their support from the show.”

Limbaugh’s apology – “I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke” – came after some advertisers, including Sleep Train, Sleep Number and Quicken Loans, had pulled their ads from his show.

Limbaugh again apologized on his show Monday, insisting that the apology had nothing to do with his lost advertisers. The apology was "heartfelt" and "sincere," he said.

Before welcoming her to "The View," hosts Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg took issue with the practice of advertisers pulling away from an entertainer whose opinions have offended some listeners.

Goldberg, referencing her past experience angering sponsors, said advertiser revolt was “a slippery slope.”

“If you don’t like something somebody’s saying, you have the right to protest, but to take away their livelihood, I think, is not the right way to go,” Goldberg said.

Fluke told Goldberg that she disagreed with the comparison because Limbaugh's single statement that he regretted his choice of words came after he'd been on the attack for days.

 “I think you’re doing a disservice by comparing yourself, because this was not someone who made one accidental statement,” Fluke said. "This was three days of significant portions of his three-hour show. He insulted me and the women of Georgetown  -- who have received no apology – he insulted us over 53 times.”

Among the statements Limbaugh made about Fluke was to characterize her testimony to a panel of lawmakers as asking “you and me and the taxpayers” to pay her “to have sex.” He said the request made her a “slut” and a “prostitute” and would make the American public “pimps.”

The comments drew criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. President Obama placed a phone call to Fluke on Friday to express support and thank her for speaking out in support of his administration's new rule requiring employers, including Catholic hospitals and universities, to offer health insurance plans that cover contraceptives.

Limbaugh’s apology failed to stem the advertiser revolt: At least seven sponsors have pulled their ads from his show, including Carbonite, a data backup service, and ProFlowers.com, both of which announced their decisions after the apology was issued.

On "The View," Fluke said Limbaugh was not alone in attacking her personally for her viewpoint.

“It is really important for us all to understand that this was not one person who went crazy and made ‘funny’ outrageous statements,” Fluke said. “This is evidently a segment of our political commentators who think that it is acceptable in today’s society to say these things about women.”

Fluke said Limbaugh also had incorrectly portrayed her testimony. Fluke said she advocated for a woman's right to contraceptives as a part of health insurance coverage. She did not argue that the government should pay for contraceptives, but said employers and universities that offer health insurance plans should ensure such coverage is included in those plans.

In his apology, Limbaugh said that he believes “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.”

Fluke had argued that contraceptive coverage was important for women’s health and she focused on its medical uses beyond preventing pregnancy. She told the story of a friend who lost an ovary because she did not have access to birth control, which might have prevented the growth of a cyst.

Fluke said she had not heard from Limbaugh personally.

"I think his statements that he made about me on the air have been personal enough, so I’d rather not have a personal phone call from him," she said.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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