Rush Limbaugh, the nationally syndicated conservative talk show host, responded to the continued flight of advertisers from his show with a new line of defense, complaining that rappers are allowed to use the very words he used to describe a Georgetown college student.
Limbaugh is under fire for repeatedly referring to Sandra Fluke, a young woman initially prevented from testifying before a House committee on a new federal contraception rule, as a “slut” and a “prostitute,” demanding on his show that if she wants the public to “pay for her birth control,” that she post tapes of her sex acts online. Fluke ultimately testified before the House about a friend who required birth control for health reasons — she did not talk about her sex life.
With the number of national advertisers dropping his show now approaching a dozen, Limbaugh on Tuesday commiserated with his listeners about what he called a double standard between him and rappers, who Limbaugh said can “say anything they want, and it’s called art.”
From Limbaugh’s website:
RUSH: This is all part of the culture deteriorating, because fewer and fewer people and fewer and fewer businesses and fewer and fewer institutions actually have a moral core, or they’re not willing to stand up for their moral core. And you talk about the double standard, one of the greatest illustrations of it is that rappers can practically say anything they want about women, and it’s called art. And they win awards for it. I don’t know about you, I have some television shows that I like, and I TiVo ‘em, and the P-word that stands for urinate is common now. Or when you’re ticked off, you are p—. It’s common. The word bitch is common. In sitcoms, in television dramas.
WATCH: Lawrence O’Donnell and guests discuss Rush’s apology on ‘The Last Word’
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The “rappers did it first” defense has been used before. In 2007, radio talk jock Don Imus defended his calling the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed ho’s” by saying that the phrase “originated in the black community” and that “young black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected … by their own black men and that they are called that name.”
After Imus was fired in April of that year, some critics and activists turned the spotlight on hip-hop and its depictions of women, though others questioned whether demeaning women is actually a wider societal problem.
And of course, there is the fact that neither Limbaugh nor Imus are rappers using lyrics about generalized women. Both men made ugly, demeaning comments about specific women — going after those women personally. Which is why, amid public outrage, both men were ultimately forced to apologize.
So, what do you think of Rush’s latest defense?