In what was surely a rare move for the conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh apologized Saturday to the Georgetown University law school student he called a “slut” and “prostitute” earlier in the week.
The apology, posted to his website, said he did not mean to make a “personal attack” against Sandra Fluke. The third-year law student had testified before Democrats in favor of President Obama’s new rule requiring employers to offer health insurance plans that cover birth control.
“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” he wrote. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
Limbaugh’s words had sparked an immediate backlash, drawing ire from all sides and leading some companies to pull advertising support for his show.
But although he apologized for the remarks, Limbaugh did not back down from his position on the contraceptive requirement.
“I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress,” he wrote. “I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability?”
The Limbaugh-related firestorm had ignited a dispute between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, with each side blaming the other for allowing rhetoric on the debate over contraceptive insurance coverage to spiral out of control.
In the aftermath, several of Limbaugh’s sponsors, including Sleep Train and Sleep Number, announced on Twitter that they had pulled their ads from his show. Sleep Train, a Sacramento-area mattress company, had advertised on the show for more than 25 years.
A spokesperson for Sleep Number said on Twitter that the company had decided to immediately pull its advertisements because Limbaugh’s statements “do not align with our values.”
President Obama personally called Fluke to offer his encouragement.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president called Fluke “to express his disappointment that she has been the subject of inappropriate personal attacks, and thank her for exercising her rights as a citizen to speak out on an issue of public policy.”