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So many advertisers are abandoning Rush Limbaugh’s radio show that the talk host on Monday joked that he phoned to cancel ads for his own line of iced tea but he couldn’t get through.
“Yeah, I knew it was getting bad,” Limbaugh said at the top of his show, acknowledging that a campaign to punish him over his criticism of Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was gaining traction.
“You know what? I gotta call myself and cancel and suspend the Two If By Tea advertising,” Limbaugh told his estimated 20 million listeners on Monday. “So I called myself to cancel advertising. I got a busy signal, so I couldn’t cancel my own company’s advertising.”
Fluke rose to national prominence when she testified in support of government mandates that would require insurance companies engaged by religious institutions to cover contraception.
“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman $3,000 during law school,” Fluke testified. “For a lot of students who, like me, are on public-interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary.”
Limbaugh joked about Fluke’s testimony on-and-off for three days, calling her a “slut” because she needs to spend so much on contraception and a “prostitute” because she wants her sexual activities subsidized.
Limbaugh eventually issued an apology, though Fluke said Monday on The View that it wasn’t sufficient.
“I don’t think a statement like this, issued saying that his choice of words was not the best, changes anything,” Fluke said. “Especially when that statement is issued when he’s under significant pressure from his sponsors, who have begun to pull their support from the show.”
More than a half-dozen sponsors have pulled their ads off of Limbaugh’s show as of Monday, the latest being AOL and ProFlowers.
Limbaugh, meanwhile, was criticized by supporters for apologizing in the first place, accused of caving in to the “thought police” and political correctness.
“Give me 30 minutes here,” he told his audience Monday. “I want to explain why I apologized to Sandra Fluke.”
Limbaugh insinuated that he used the tactics of his detractors by name-calling and engaging in the politics of personal destruction.
“Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong, I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke,” he said.
“The apology to her over the weekend was sincere,” he said
Limbaugh then spent an inordinate amount of time Monday attempting to put his past ridicule of Fluke into political perspective. In doing so, he dismissed her as “a 30-year-old birth control activist” who gave “unverified and inexpert testimony about how Georgetown’s long-standing and public policy has hurt her unnamed friends.”
“If you know the place doesn’t offer contraceptives when you sign up, and that is your big political issue, then why are you really there?” Limbaugh asked. “They are intentionally targeting schools like Georgetown to advance an agenda of ultimately forcing them to abandon their religious beliefs.”
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