Rush Limbaugh’s apology for calling a Georgetown law student a “slut” did not stop the criticism from the left, but it also may not be halting the exodus of a handful of advertisers and a campaign to pressure more sponsors to drop the conservative radio talk show host’s show.
The CEO of Carbonite, an online backup service, said on Saturday that the company has decided to pull its ads even though Limbaugh issued a rare statement “sincerely apologize” to Sandra Fluke for “insulting word choices.” Fluke is the student he had targeted last week in the debate over government requirements that insurers include contraception coverage in their plans.
“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,” said David Friend. “Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even thought 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 We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
Another sponsor, ProFlowers, said on Sunday that it was suspending its advertising, joining five others.
“We do not base our advertising decisions to align with any particular political view or opinion as our employees and customers are as diverse as the USA,” the company said in a statement. “Mr. Limbaugh’s recent comments went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”
Fluke had testified at a Democratic congressional event on the importance of having birth control services covered by insurance plans. Limbaugh attacked her on his show several times last week, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” and suggested that she post videos of herself having sex online.
Limbaugh has faced furor before, and Democrats and media watchdog groups have seized on the statements in urging Republicans to condemn them. But a number of groups are also trying to pressure sponsors to pull their spots, arguing that even though he has a penchant for making outrageous comments, this time he went too far. Among them is Ultra Violet, a group set up to combat sexism.
In his statement, Limbaugh said that “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.
He added that his “choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir.”
But he also defended his general argument, and said, “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?”
Other sponsors that have announced that they are pulling ads include Quicken Loans, Sleep Train Mattresses, Sleep Number, LegalZoom and Citrix.
Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks Inc. hosts Limbaugh’s program, one of the country’s most popular talk radio shows. The company is supporting Limbaugh, whose on-air contract with Premiere runs through 2016.
“The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue,” Premiere Networks said in a statement emailed Sunday by spokeswoman Rachel Nelson. “We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.)