GOP House Speaker, Obama Agree: Limbaugh Calling Student a ’Slut’ Out of Bounds
Rush Limbaugh drew fire Friday from many directions, including President Barack Obama, for his depiction of a college student as a "slut" because she testified before Congress about the need for contraceptive coverage.
The third-year Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, received a supportive phone call from Obama, and was backed by members of Congress, women’s groups, and the administration and faculty at her Roman Catholic university.
Calls for Limbaugh’s sponsors to pull their ads from his radio talk show rocketed through cyberspace, and at least two companies, bedding retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, said on their Twitter accounts that they were complying with the demands.
Obama considers Limbaugh’s remarks "reprehensible," according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. He said the president called Fluke to "express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks" and to thank her for speaking out on an issue of public policy.
"The fact that our political discourse has become debased in many ways is bad enough," Carney said. "It is worse when it’s directed at a private citizen who was simply expressing her views."
Obama reached Fluke by phone as she was waiting to go on MSNBC’s "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
"What was really personal for me was that he said to tell my parents that they should be proud," a choked-up Fluke told Mitchell. "And that meant a lot because Rush Limbaugh questioned whether or not my family would be proud of me. So I just appreciated that very much."
Fluke was given a chance to talk to Congress on Feb. 23, even though lawmakers were on a break and just a few Democratic allies were on hand to cheer her on. The previous week, a Republican-controlled House committee had rejected Democrats’ request that she testify on the Obama administration’s policy requiring that employees of religion-affiliated institutions have access to health insurance that covers birth control.
Fluke said that Georgetown, a Jesuit institution, does not provide contraception coverage in its student health plan and that contraception can cost a woman more than $3,000 during law school. She spoke of a friend who had an ovary removed because the insurance company wouldn’t cover the prescription birth control she needed to stop the growth of cysts.
On Wednesday, Limbaugh unleashed a lengthy and often savage verbal assault on Fluke.
"What does it say about the college coed ... who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex?" Limbaugh said. "It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex."
He went on to suggest that Fluke distribute sex tapes of herself.
"If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it," he said. "We want you post the videos online so we can all watch."
The backlash began quickly and showed no signs of abating as scores of Democratic members of Congress denounced Limbaugh and urged their GOP colleagues to do likewise.