I don’t know if you’re one of the many people that read my previous article talking about the wonderful Rush Limbaugh and his drive to win the Most Woman-Repellant Man of the Year for what’s likely the twentieth of fiftieth year year in a row. If you haven’t heard of the controversy, then I’m surprised the rock you live under can access this website. But, in brief, Limbaugh decided to call Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was barred from testifying in an all-male congressional hearing about birth control (but managed to later testify in a different hearing), both a slut and a prostitute. Since then, there has been a massive outcry against Limbaugh’s words. And he apologized and totally meant it, you guys. Especially once his advertisers started dropping like flies.
But some have pointed out that the severity to which people are reacting to Limbaugh is perhaps severe and hypocritical. Laura Ingraham has been perhaps one of the more vocal protesters of the hypocrisy, decrying Barbara Walters’ reaction on “The View” to Ed Schultz calling Ingraham a slut, as well as the lack of media outcry and backlash against Schultz. Kirsten Powers wrote a column for “The Daily Beast” and has been seen on Fox News talking about how the liberal men who pull the same sort of shenanigans seem to get away with it. She references Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi and Schultz to make her point. And Megyn Kelly of Fox News apparently shared her own experiences with Maher and an uncaring feminism figure, Gloria Steinem.
So. Is there, in fact, a hypocrisy going on? Why is it that people are hitting Limbaugh so hard when the others seemed to squeeze by unnoticed? Most of this post will focus on the two cases I know best, Schultz and Maher, but I hope my points will be made clear. Because there are, perhaps, some differences between Limbaugh and the rest.
1) Limbaugh did not say one word. He said many. Whereas people like Schultz made the poor judgment of calling someone a slut on one occasion, Limbaugh called Fluke a whole host of things. And not once. Not even on only a single show. The man went on for three days. In those three days, he called Fluke a sex addict, a prostitute, a slut, sexually active in middle school, insinuated that Fluke’s friends were also all sluts, essentially called Georgetown a college full of promiscuous women and demanded that Fluke video tape her sexual activities and post them online for Limbaugh and other men to watch.
I’m sorry, but that last one is simply disgusting. This goes beyond insulting to revolting. Sure, someone may call you a slut, or a c—, and while that may be even unforgivably insulting, Limbaugh crossed that line merrily and took a dump on it when he did. If you go on a three day rant repeating yourself over and over again, you’ve got to apologize for more than just the usage of two specific words. But most don’t know that he went on a rant, because explaining what he DID do in a news article attempting to summarize the incident would take up at least a couple of pages in the newspaper. So, the media had to pick out the best, shortest examples. And those were “slut” and “prostitute.” But that isn’t by far all Limbaugh said.
2) Limbaugh is not even remotely repentant. Limbaugh apologized to Fluke, sure. On March 3. AFTER his 3 day rant, and AFTER his advertisers began their exodus. Isn’t there some saying about you don’t feel bad you did it, you just feel bad you got caught? Limbaugh shows all the classic signs of someone that doesn’t actually care what he said. I mean, if he did, you’d think he’d tread careful water about the things he said about women, right? But here we are, a week later, and Limbaugh is talking about “over-educated (not smart, mind you), young, single, white women getting things they don’t deserve.” So soon after being hit hard with talking trash about a woman, he decides to do it again. Albeit in slightly less inflammatory terms.
To put this in perspective, Schultz made an apology for his words to talk show host Ingraham. For a single, 12-second profanity, Schultz went to his bosses and asked to be removed from the air without pay, made a nine minute apology and swore to never use the language he used in the incident again. Nearly a year later, Schultz has kept that promise. He personally called Ingraham to apologize. His apology was immediate. His repentance was more than most would have done. Meanwhile, Limbaugh waited until money was being lost before writing an apology on his website and waiting for the media to find it and proliferate it. That is not the sign of a penitent man.
3) Limbaugh was factually incorrect. I’m not going to talk about the “slut” and “prostitute” claims here. Those were insulting descriptors that were bombastic in nature and not what I’m going to discuss. No, I want to talk about all the other bits Limbaugh said. He couldn’t even get Fluke’s name right half the time. He insinuated that birth control pills had to be used at the same rate condoms are supposed to be, once per go. He claimed the pills cost only $1000 a year when in actuality Fluke testified that they cost $3000 a year. And he tried to pin things on liberals who make insulting and shocking slanderous claims about people by saying you’d never hear one of them apologize. Well, as the above section hopefully showed, yes. Liberals can and have apologized before.
The reason I bring this up is because it underlines how bombastic Limbaugh is. Many liberal commentators that have been slammed for their moments of stupidity and loose tongues have been doing these things in moments of passion when reporting on some issue or another. Limbaugh, as he went on for three days and had a script in his hands, didn’t do this in a moment of passion. This was “researched.” I put it in quotations because it was clearly done only in the vaguest of fashions. Limbaugh clearly holds a massive disdain for proliferating facts amongst his audience. His entire purpose is to stretch the truth and make noise. Whereas all the examples of liberals doing similar things I’ve found have liberals making mistakes, Limbaugh’s was planned out specifically to rile people up.
4) This isn’t Limbaugh’s first time. Unfortunately (or perhaps not), I can’t get any readily available links to Limbaugh’s past statements of this fashion since the current boondoggle is taking up most of the internet. However, it doesn’t really take me having links to be able to confidently say that this is not Limbaugh’s first time saying something horrible. The man has made a career off of being rather repugnant and saying stupid, hateful things. In one of the examples I can remember, Limbaugh decided it was okay to call First Lady Michelle Obama “uppity” simply because of her attempts to help children be healthier. He completely ignored the respect due her and decided to attack her over something entirely meaningless.
And I’m certain that, if you went into the annals of the internet, you’d find Limbaugh doing this same thing over and over again. Some may wonder what makes this case so special, then. Well, I’d have to say it’s probably the fact that a) Fluke isn’t a public figure, b) Limbaugh went on for three whole days and c) Limbaugh was disgusting and repulsive even for him, which most were unaware was possible. Were this his first mistake, there’s a chance the fallout wouldn’t be so immensely huge. But people are so used to him being unapologetic in his hatred that when he surpasses himself, it becomes the final straw on the camel’s back.
5) Limbaugh is conservative. At this point, someone might say, “Wait a second, aren’t you just admitting now that there IS a hypocrisy?” Actually, yes and no. Allow me to first cover the no. When I bring up the fact that Limbaugh is considered a heavily (and heavy) representative voice of the conservative slant of the nation, I do so to point out why someone in that position might be held to a different standard. The conservatives of the nation, by and large, are associated with social conservatism and the Republican Party. That party, that conservatism, they represent something. They claim to represent a standard of morality. A standard of family values, of tradition. And that’s where the difference lies.
See, liberals, by and large, don’t claim to be “moralistic.” There are many liberals who do not believe in an objective morality. Liberals more often fight for things they feel are “right.” It isn’t a question of morals for them. It’s a question of right and wrong. The difference is fine, but key. For example, it may be immoral to abort a fetus, but it would be wrong to ban abortions. The morality and the right and wrong are not equated. But the Republican Party, the conservatives, they equate the two all the time. Homosexuality is immoral, therefore homosexual marriage is wrong. Abortions are immoral, therefore they’re wrong. Et cetera. They’ve set themselves up on a moral high ground, one that many of them have no business being on. And one of those people is, in fact, Limbaugh. And that’s one reason conservatives are more rapidly and more easily strung up for their failures: Because, by their own definitions, they should be.
Now, on to the “yes” part. Despite the hypocrisy inherent in Limbaugh’s aligned political ideologies and bombastic, slanderous statements, there is still a bit of hypocrisy coming from somewhere with regards to liberal commentators. Maher, being one of the few people willing to stand up for Limbaugh (something that he may possibly regret later), once called Sarah Palin a c—. I think you know the word I’m referencing there. And Olbermann has been seen as a bit of a misogynist himself, partly due to his comments on then-Senator Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign, comments for which he later apologized (See, Limbaugh?). I mean, I could point out conservative commentators that tended to get away pain free, like the now deceased Andrew Breitbart, but there are some cases that need a little more scrutiny on both sides. Personally, I think Maher got away with his comments because no one really cares about him. To me, he’s still the guy that made that movie about religion, sometimes says smart insightful things, and then says stupid, unnecessary, pointless, rude and mean things. Heck, it took me forever to even know how to say his name correctly (It’s Mar, not May-er), and according to Mediaite’s Power Grid, Maher comes in at #46 among TV Anchors/Hosts. To compare, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert come in at #6 and #7 respectively. For goodness sake, he’s on HBO. How many people watch that for political commentary? (Answer: A lot more once that movie about Palin comes out.)
Still, unfamiliarity is not a really good excuse to not call him on his crap. There’s no need to accept excuses from anyone on these issues. Now, these issues will show up, and often. That’s the nature of our ever more partisan nation and our ever-growing fast reaction grapevine through social media. You make a Tweet you’re going to regret and, trust me… No matter how fast you delete it, you will regret it if you’re a national figure. And we the people need to start holding these figureheads more and more accountable. Perhaps it starts with Limbaugh. If others continue to think they can do the same, unrepentant stuff when the dust settles and Limbaugh is limping away from the fight, then we take the fight to them until we get it through their heads that there is some behavior that will not be tolerated. Change can be had. Let’s start making it.