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UPDATE: The number of advertisers who are running away from Rush Limbaugh continues to climb, but the conservative talk show host found some support from an unlikely source this week: Bill Maher.
The late night comedian took to Twitter to tell his fellow liberals to accept Limbaugh's apology and move on: "Hate to defend #RushLimbaugh but he apologized, liberals looking bad not accepting. Also hate intimidation by sponsor pullout"
Of course, as CBS News reminds us, Maher is no stranger to controversy himself. Earlier this year the comedian faced a boycott for a controversial tweet about Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow.
Maher made headlines earlier this year when he pledged $1 million to the super PAC backing President Obama's re-election.
Tuesday, March 6 at 5:01 p.m.: Politico has upped its official count of advertisers that have dropped their funding for Rush Limbaugh’s radio talk show, bringing the tally to at least 25 by late Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that radio station 1420 AM WBEC in Pittsfield, Mass., announced Tuesday that it will be dropping the conservative talk show. WBEC is the second station to do so, joining KPUA 670 in Hilo, Hawaii.
Vox Communications Group owns WBEC and New West Broadcasting Corp. owns KPUA, notes Syracuse.com.
Tuesday, March 6 at 3:15 p.m.:The list of companies that have pulled their advertisements from Rush Limbaugh's radio show keeps growing and now tops 20.
Politico scoured Twitter and Facebook to compile a complete list of the 21 companies that have so far announced they are parting ways with the conservative talk show: AccuQuote Life Insurance, Allstate Insurance, AOL, Bare Escentuals, Bonobos, Carbonite, Citrix, Hadeed Carpet, Legal Zoom, PolyCom, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Sears, Sensa, Service Magic, Sleep Train, Sleep Number, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Tax Resolution, Thompson Creek Windows and Vitacost.
Monday, March 5, 12:58 p.m.: Speaking for the first time since he issued a written apology over the weekend—and only minutes after AOL became the latest advertiser to abandon him—Rush Limbaugh said Monday that he was sincerely sorry for calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute."
"I always tried to maintain a very high degree of integrity and independence on this program. Nevertheless, those two words were inappropriate, they were uncalled for, they distracted from the point that I was actually trying to make, and I again sincerely apologize to Miss Fluke for using those two words to describe her," Limbaugh said (via Politico). "I do not think she is either of those two words."
The conservative talk show host continued: "The apology was heartfelt. The apology was sincere."
Monday, March 5, 12:13 p.m.: Rush Limbaugh just lost another advertiser.
AOL on Monday became the eighth company to pull its ads from Limbaugh's radio talk show in the wake of his inflammatory comments about a 30-year-old Georgetown law student who advocated for President Obama's contraception policy.
"At AOL one of our core values is that we act with integrity," the company said in a statement on its Facebook page. "We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh’s comments are not in line with our values. As a result we have made the decision to suspend advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Radio show."
Monday, March 5: A seventh advertiser has pulled its advertisements from Rush Limbaugh’s radio talk show following his vitriolic comments last week that characterized a 30-year-old Georgetown law student as a "slut" and "prostitute" for pushing for birth control coverage in student medical insurance plans.
The Associated Press reports that ProFlowers, a flower delivery service, posted a statement Sunday on its Facebook page declaring that "Mr. Limbaugh's recent comments went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company."
The six other advertisers that have likewise pulled their ads from Limbaugh's show: Quicken Loans, Sleep Train, Sleep Number, Citrix Systems, Carbonite, and Legal Zoom.
But it would seem that Clear Channel's Premiere Radio Networks, which hosts Limbaugh’s program and has him under contract until 2016, is sticking by its controversial commentator. In a statement Sunday, the channel noted that contraception "sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue" and that the channel respects "the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions."
Some Republicans, however, seem to be distancing themselves from Limbaugh. GOP candidate Newt Gingrich told CNN’s State of the Union on Monday morning that Limbaugh was wrong to make his incendiary comments and that he was glad the conservative commentator had since apologized, notes the AP in another article. Gingrich also said it was "silly" to suggest that Limbaugh speaks for the Republican Party. Former GOP presidential nominee John McCain has also characterized the comments as "totally unacceptable," notes CBS News.
GOP candidate Ron Paul, on the other hand, isn’t buying into Limbaugh’s apology. The Texas congressman said Sunday that Limbaugh’s statement was insincere and was made only for "his bottom line" in response to the advertisers who had pulled their funding, reports CBS News.
Sunday, March 4: Following criticism from Republicans and as more advertisers decided to leave his show, Rush Limbaugh apologized to Sandra Fluke late on Saturday, reports the Associated Press.
“My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir,” Limbaugh said on his website. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”
The controversial radio host said that the storm of controversy after he called the Georgetown student a “slut” and “prostitute,” was “absolutely absurd.” Many were quick to say that this wasn’t a real apology and some advertisers insisted they had no intention of returning to Limbaugh’s show.
The apology makes it clear that Limbaugh still refuses “to recognize that the uproar around his statements isn’t just about name-calling, but rather his offensive misunderstanding of the importance and uses of birth control,” writes J. Bryan Lowder in Slate’s XX Factor.
Saturday, March 3: Rush Limbaugh seems determined not to back away from the whole Sandra Fluke controversy, continuing to attack her Friday as the Georgetown University law student warned she might file suit. Although Limbaugh has made his name, and his millions, with ridiculous attacks such as the one he leveled on Fluke, this time his bottom line could be affected. Several advertisers have pulled out of his show, notes the Christian Science Monitor.
Limbaugh is not backing down, continuing his rant Friday that Fluke is a “prostitute” who is “having so much sex” she can’t pay for contraceptives, reports the New York Daily News. Limbaugh made fun of President Obama for calling Fluke, and said he would “buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much aspirin to put between their knees as they want,” in a reference to another controversial comment made last month by a Rick Santorum supporter, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Georgetown University law student tells the Daily Beast she is considering taking legal action. “I’ve certainly been told I might have a case, but it’s not something I’ve made any decisions about at this point,” she said.
For their part, Democrats have seized the opportunity to express outrage, challenging their Republican counterparts to condemn Limbaugh’s comments. As the New York Times notes, Fluke may end up giving Democrats “a symbol for what they have called a Republican ‘war on women’ that could spell more difficulty for a Republican Party already showing signs of trouble with female voters.”
Several Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Limbaugh, although some were careful not to offend his listeners. House speaker John Boehner, for example, called Limbaugh’s comments “inappropriate.” Santorum said that while Limbaugh was “being absurd … an entertainer can be absurd.” Newt Gingrich directly avoided criticizing Limbaugh, and attacked Obama for acting “opportunistically,” reports ABC News.
Friday, March 2 at 2:39 p.m.: President Obama on Friday called Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown Law student who was the target of Rush Limbaugh's inflammatory comments about mandated birth control access, to thank her for advocating for his administration's contraception policy.
The president made the call to Fluke shortly before she was set to appear on MSNBC on Friday afternoon. "What was really personal for me was he said to tell my parents that they should be proud," she told host Andrea Mitchell.
Liberals and like-minded reproductive rights advocates have rallied around Fluke in the past two days, after Limbaugh labeled her a "slut" and "prostitute" on his radio show. Earlier Friday, House Speaker John Boehner called those comments "inappropriate," but rebuked liberals for using the incident as a fundraising opportunity.
Thanks to Limbaugh's comments, which have now been amplified in the news cycle by Obama's decision to reach out directly to Fluke, the Georgetown student has become the face of the ongoing partisan fight that has become a major talking point both on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail ahead of November's elections.
Friday, March 2: House Speaker John Boehner on Friday softly condemned Rush Limbaugh for calling a female Georgetown Law student who testified to a Congress about contraception a "slut" and suggesting she post sex tapes online for taxpayers to watch, but not without adding a qualifier that liberal groups were wrong to try to raise money off of the inflammatory remarks.
"The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate," Boehner spokesman Michael Steele told CNN, "as is trying to raise money off the situation."
Congressional Democrats had pressured Boehner to speak out on the record against Limbaugh's remarks, which came during a week where the partisan fight over contraception and reproductive rights dominated much of the action on Capitol Hill and in the blogosphere. Some liberal groups have used Limbaugh's words as part of a fundraising push, an act that the speaker's office was quick to mention.
Georgetown student Sandra Fluke testified last week before an informal House panel advocating for contraceptive access for women. Her advocacy on the topic quickly drew the ire of Limbaugh, who first lashed out at her during his Wednesday show:
"What does it say about the college co-ed Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps — the johns. No, that’s right — pimp is not the right word."
He then continued his attack on the following day:
"So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch."