Rush Limbaugh has always been over the top. Now, he may be just plain over.
After calling Georgetown University of Law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute," the provocative radio personality has watched eight big advertisers pull their sponsorship from his show.
The list so far: Carbonite, Citrix, Go To Meeting, Legal Zoom, ProFlowers, Quicken Loans, Sleep Number and Sleep Train.
Fluke had testified in favor of insurance coverage for contraceptive health care during a hearing of the congressional Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Feb. 23. "When you let university administrators or other employees, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose aren't, a woman's health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body," she said.
Limbaugh's response: "What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra 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."
On Saturday, Limbaugh posted a brief apology to his website and wrote that he "did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke."
"In my monologue," he added, "I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom." This is an apparent negation of his Thursday assertion that "if we're going to... pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."
David Friend, CEO of Boston technology company Carbonite, explained why he pulled his Limbaugh sponsorship on the company website. "No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. ... Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse."
And on its Facebook page, ProFlowers posted that "Mr. Limbaugh's recent comments went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company. As such, ProFlowers has suspended advertising on the Rush Limbaugh radio program."
It's not just advertisers; politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed distaste for Limbaugh's word choice. President Barack Obama personally called Fluke to offer his support, and even a spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Limbaugh's comments inappropriate.
Now, some members of the general public are using both boycott and direct contact to make their voices heard. On Reddit, one user has published a list of companies that work with The Rush Limbaugh Show. "We will keep this momentum going and keep up the pressure on Limbaugh's advertisers," posted jaybercrow, adding that "this is about taking Rush Limbaugh down through a boycott of his sponsors and in no way is meant to imply physical harm."
Advertisers who have yet to pull their support include AOL, American Forces Network and Life Lock.
A similar list of sponsors can be found at Left Action, accompanied by a petition well on its way to achieving its goal of 100,000 signatures. The petition, addressed to Limbaugh's remaining advertisers, can be signed online publicly or anonymously. It reads, "Rush Limbaugh's anti-woman tirades are appalling, and I am calling on you to stop supporting him with your advertising dollars."
At this point, Limbaugh's fate may be in the hands of the public. If his fans can't rally enough support for their favorite talking head, the growing boycotts could put an end to the 24-year-old radio show.
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