Limbaugh apologizes for 'slut' comments

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh apologized Saturday for calling the woman who testified in favor of President Obama's contraception mandate a "slut" and a "prostitute."

Limbaugh had come under intense pressure from President Obama and Democrats, who rushed to support the Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, as they sought to turn the conservative talker’s comments against the GOP. And Republicans had begun to distance themselves from his incendiary comments.

ADVERTISEMENT
"For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week," Limbaugh said in a statement posted on his website. "In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."

Fluke first entered the debate when she was not allowed to testify at a House Oversight Committee hearing last month. The move by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) backfired after photos of the initial all-male panel of witnesses at the hearing went viral and sparked a segment on “Saturday Night Live.”


Democrats then held their own hearing a week later, featuring Fluke’s full testimony.

Limbaugh first criticized Fluke during his show on Wednesday, and then doubled down on Thursday, saying Georgetown students are apparently “having so much sex they’re going broke.”

"In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level," Limbaugh said in his apology statement. "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."

Obama called Fluke Friday to offer his support.

“He encouraged me and supported me and thanked me about speaking out about the concerns of American women,” Fluke said on MSNBC.

The White House initially took political heat over a contraception mandate, under which employers' insurers provide birth control to their employees without a co-pay, from critics who said it was a violation of religious liberty. Under pressure, Obama announced an “accommodation” meant to allow exceptions from the mandate for Catholic hospitals and other religiously affiliated groups.

Critics said that accommodation didn’t go far enough, but the White House move made it more difficult for Republicans to frame the debate over religious freedom. Since then, missteps by Republicans and now Limbaugh’s comments have shifted the national debate into a fight about contraception and women’s rights.


Republicans also expressed concern on Friday over Limbaugh’s comments.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized Limbaugh for the remarks, at the same time he took a jab at Democrats for fund-raising off the comments.

The Speaker “obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation,” a Boehner spokesman said.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also criticized the comments, saying, "It's not language the majority leader would condone." 

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Limbaugh's comments were "absurd."

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney weighed in Saturday, saying "it's not the language I would have used."