Offensive Is Nothing New: Rush Limbaugh's 5 Worst Remarks
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Has Rush Limbaugh finally gone too far?
Despite a notably insincere apology for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for the crime of using birth control pills, Limbaugh is shedding advertisers like mad. As of Monday evening, nine companies—including AOL, the parent company of the Huffington Post-- have stopped buying time on Limbaugh's radio show, and at least a couple say they have severed ties with the program permanently.
Even Republican presidential candidates have issued tepid condemnations of Limbaugh's rant. Mitt Romney, whose private equity firm Bain Capital is one of the owners of Clear Channel – which owns and broadcasts Premiere Radio Networks, the company that syndicates Limbaugh's show -- told reporters, “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used,” before quickly changing the subject back to Tuesday's primaries. Democrats quickly pounced on Romney's wimpy repudiation, but none of them bothered to point out the presidential candidate's profit motive in Rush's program.
But it's not like Rush doesn't have a history of saying incendiary, awful things and making personal attacks. Young women are clearly a favorite target of the right-wing shock jock, who's gone after three presidents' daughters and splashed enough racism, sexism, homophobia and just plain nastiness around the airwaves to offend just about anyone.
Now, it seems, Americans may finally have had enough. A Harris poll conducted last week found that Limbaugh is the least liked pundit in America. Meanwhile, progressive sites like Daily Kos and Media Matters are continuing to pressure Limbaugh's advertisers to defund his show, in a strategy that mirrors the one that took down Glenn Beck.
Limbaugh has long been the Right's on-air id, a person who will say all the horrible things other right-wingers might think in passing. Here, we look at five other moments when Rush crossed the line, but managed to salvage his reputation and his reported $40 million a year salary.
1. “Take the bone out of your nose and call me back!”
As Earl Ofari Hutchinson pointed out, Rush has been tossing out non-apology apologies for quite a while. Three decades ago, “as a relatively obscure local yokel right-wing nut gabber and DJ on a Pittsburgh radio station, he shouted at a black caller to take the bone out of your nose,” Hutchinson wrote. “He used the same Fluke non-apology playbook and never admitted that he said it. But he didn’t deny it either.”
Back when that happened, Limbaugh was going by the name “Jeff Christie” (no relation to New Jersey's blowhard governor) and was hosting a top 40 music show—so before he even made his rep as a talker from whom shocking statements were expected, he was running his mouth. Limbaugh explained to Newsday in 1990 (quoted by Snopes.com):
“I am the least racist host you'll ever find.” Recalling a stint as an “insult-radio” DJ in Pittsburgh, he admits feeling guilty about, for example, telling a black listener he could not understand to “take the bone out of your nose and call me back.”
Perhaps he felt guilty, but he certainly didn't change his ways.
2. Picking on presidential daughters.
BuzzFeed compiled a list of Limbaugh's most famous “apologies”--and two of them were to daughters of Democratic presidents. First there was Amy Carter, who Limbaugh accused of “protesting everything American” while attending Brown University. According to BuzzFeed, Limbaugh claims to have apologized:
I made a remark on my show that I've now since apologized for and I've taken it back; I didn't mean it. I said, "You know, she may be the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country."
Well, there was outrage. No, there was. I mean, there was just plenty--my--my mom called me at home that night. She said, 'Son, you know, you--if you're going to be serious about this, you can't make fun of the way people look. You're not supposed to--you're not--you can talk about how you disagree with Amy Carter. You can talk about how you disagree with her politics and you think she's doing some bad things, but she can't help the way she looks, and you can't--you shouldn't make fun of that. And, besides, you forgot Margaret Truman.'