By Brigitte L. Nacos
His hateful tirade against a female law school student and her demand for insurance-covered contraceptives even at church-related institutions cost shock jock Rush Limbaugh according to today’s New York Times seven advertisers so far. But as successful as the spontaneous on-line protests against Limbaugh’s despicable attack on Sandra Fluke was--by extension an attack on all women practicing birth control and requiring insurance coverage--, the pressure must not stop but expand to a boycott of all radio stations that carry Limbaugh’s talk show and TV- and radio-networks they are affiliated with.
It is telling that the usually unapologetic Limbaugh issued an apology after one advertiser after another jumped ship over the weekend. To stem this tide and financial harm, he issued a lame apology. “My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” he said in his statement. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
That was actually a non-apology. What Limbaugh said in his endless rants in his broadcasts on three consecutive days was not simply a poor choice of words-- he called Ms. Fluke “slut” and “prostitute”--but rather another shameful manifestation of his disrespect for many groups, including women and minorities.
Since Limbaugh strives on controversy and attention-getting hate-speak to promote his show and excite his huge audience, one might conclude that it would be best to ignore the episodes of particularly vile insults. But that would ignore the reality that Rush Limbaugh is for many years the most influential voice in the Republican Party.
In the past, even the slightest criticism of Limbaugh’s most distasteful outbursts resulted inevitably in “forgive me, Rush” apologies. That explains the reactions of leading Republicans this time around. Mitt Romney said, “It’s not the language I would have used.” In other words, Romney has no problem with the substance of Limbaugh’s attacks, rather with his linguistic choices. This leaves me to wonder whether Romney would have used more civil terms (perhaps sex worker?) to substitute Limbaugh’s choices. Rick Santorum called the controversial Limbaugh episode “absurd” but nevertheless “justified” since Limbaugh is an entertainer. Ah, an entertainer with so much influence in real Republican politics!
If politicians who compete for the highest office in the land either think along the lines of Rush Limbaugh except for his choice of words or are too afraid to confront him, they do not deserve our votes. I am glad that at least one prominent Republican, Senator John McCain, stood up to the radio host and said that Limbaugh’s statements are completely unacceptable and should be “condemned” by people across the political spectrum.
The syndicator of the Limbaugh show, Premiere Networks, declared in a statement its commitment to offer listeners “a broad range of opinion and commentary” and its respect for “the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions.”
So, yes, those who disagree with Limbaugh can and should exercise their rights. Since neither his syndicator nor the stations that air his show and their affiliated networks have any intention of reining in the highly lucrative talk show star, those stations and networks should be boycotted—until they do.
I, for example, will no longer watch the ABC TV-network since ABC's local affiliate carries Limbaugh's show. Here is a list of those radio outlets that air the Rush Limbaugh show.