Limbaugh: Sandra Fluke is not a ‘slut’ or ‘prostitute’
Limbaugh (AP/Chris Carlson)
"I descended to [the left's] level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke," Limbaugh said. "I've always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate. They were uncalled for. They distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. I do not think she is either of those two words. I did not think last week that she is either of those two words."
He added: "It was way beneath me, and way beneath you. I was wrong. I genuinely apologize."
Limbaugh claimed he was not forced into issuing an apology to Fluke, despite calls from prominent conservatives—including House Speaker John Boehner and GOP candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum—to do so, as advertisers of his show fled in droves.
"The apology was sincere and heartfelt ... pure, simple, heartfelt," he said. "All the theories, all the experts are wrong."
Limbaugh's comments came a day after a seventh advertiser, ProFlowers.com, pulled its advertising from his radio show, following Quicken Loans, Sleep Train, Sleep Number, Citrix Systems Inc., Carbonite and LegalZoom. An eighth, AOL, announced on Monday that it would stop advertising, too.
"At AOL one of our core values is that we act with integrity," Maureen Sullivan, an AOL spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. "We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh's comments are not in line with our values."
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But Limbaugh told listeners that pressure from advertisers did not lead to his apology.
"I reject millions of dollars of advertising a year, much to the chagrin of my ad sales team," Limbaugh said, "including General Motors. I made the decision [after the government bailout] not to accept [GM advertising] because you, the audience, comes first."
"We're going to replace those that leave," he said. "Fine, we'll replace [you]."
On Saturday, Limbaugh posted an apology to Fluke on his website.
"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," the statement read. "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."
Earlier Monday, fellow radio talk show host Don Imus dismissed Limbaugh's apology to Fluke as "lame," and suggested he sit down with her. "He's a fat, gutless loser," Imus said, "and if I'm running a radio station, he's not on it ... until he does that."
But in an appearance on "The View," Fluke said Limbaugh's initial comments were "personal enough, so I'd rather not have a personal phone call with him."
The National Organization of Women still wants to see him fired.
"When one of the leading commentators for the conservative Republican Party is out there using this vicious language against an ordinary young woman who simply wanted to testify before Congress—that goes so far beyond the pale," NOW president Terry O'Neil said in an interview on CNN.
"I'm not going to wait for apologies from the left," Limbaugh said, "for saying despicable things they say about us, about people like Sarah Palin. Don't expect apologies, they're never going to apologize."
"Talk about a double standard," Limbaugh intoned, after several callers complained that it was unfair he was forced into an apology. "Rappers can say anything they want about women [and] it's called art. And they win awards."
He added: "Forget about the double standard going away—it never will."