Friday, March 9, 2012

Anatomy of an Apology

I have pre-teens. Two of ’em. And every now and then, one of them will say something to the other (or to me or my wife) that is inappropriate. When that happens, we ask the child to apologize. Often the apology will be offered in a surly tone; we try to calmly explain that to be meaningful, an apology must at least sound sincere. Sometimes the apology will be followed by a “But…” and we try to calmly explain that an apology is not the time for excuses. An explanation is fine, but not if the purpose is to excuse or even justify the conduct. Other times, the apology will be followed with an effort to blame the bad act on someone else (“She made me!”), to deflect attention from the act itself (“The other day when…”), or to create some form of equivalency (“But he didn’t get in trouble when he …”). And again, we try to calmly explain that these sorts of defensive postures are not properly a part of an apology.

I’m not sure that my kids have really absorbed all of that yet…

But Rush Limbaugh isn’t a 12-year-old kid.

I want to take some time to examine Limbaugh’s so-called apology to Sandra Fluke, issued Saturday afternoon. For, while it has been referred to as an apology — and even includes the word “apologize” — I think a careful reading of Limbaugh’s statement will reveal that it may be a lot of things, but a true apology is not one of them.

Let’s start by reading the text Limbaugh’s “apology”:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

The first thing worth noting is that the “apology” was written. You’d think that a man who makes his living via voicing his thoughts on the radio could offer an apology in the same medium. But I recognize that the “apology” came over the weekend. Thus,I was curious to see what, if anything, Limbaugh might say on his radio program on Monday. And sure enough, he did discuss and expound upon his “apology” with a lengthy discussion about why he apologized:

While I have your attention, give me 30 minutes here. It's all I ask and then you can do what you want. I want to explain why I apologized to Sandra Fluke in the statement that was released on Saturday. I've read all the theories from all sides, and, frankly, they are all wrong. I don't expect — and I know you don't, either — morality or intellectual honesty from the left. They've demonstrated over and over a willingness to say or do anything to advance their agenda. It's what they do. It's what we fight against here every day. But this is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them.

Against my own instincts, against my own knowledge, against everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them, and I feel very badly about that. I've 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 Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. I do not think she is either of those two words. I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.

The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words in a way I never do, and in so doing, I became like the people we oppose. I ended up descending to their level. It's important not to be like them, ever, particularly in fighting them. The old saw, you never descend to the level of your opponent or they win. That was my error last week. But the apology was heartfelt. The apology was sincere. And as you will hear as I go on here, it was not about anything else. No ulterior motive. No speaking in code. No double entendre or intention. Pure, simple heartfelt. That's why I apologized to Sandra Fluke on Saturday, 'cause all the theories, all the experts are wrong.

But the point here is that this was an issue that represents a tiny, tiny slice of what the Democrats really want here. They use Sandra Fluke to create a controversy. Sandra Fluke used them to advance her agenda, which is to force a religious institution to abandon their principles in order to meet hers. Now, all of this is what I should have told you last week, 'cause this is what happened. I use satire. I use absurdity to illustrate the absurd. The story at the Cybercast News Service characterized a portion of her testimony as sounding like (based on her own financial figures) she was engaging in sexual activity so often she couldn't afford it. I focused on that because it was simple trying to persuade people, change people's minds.

I am huge on personal responsibility and accountability, people providing for themselves when they're totally able to. The government has no business doing any of this, getting in people's bedrooms and mandating that other citizens pay for other citizens' social activities and so forth. That was the wrong one to focus on. I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. It's what we have come to know and expect of them, but it's way beneath me. And it's way beneath you. It was wrong, and that's why I've apologized, 'cause I succumbed. I descended to their level. Don't be mad at them or mad at her. Everybody here was being true to their nature except me. I'm the one who had the falling on this, and for that I genuinely apologized for using those words to describe Ms. Fluke.

The portion that I omitted was another 13 paragraphs criticizing President Obama in particular (“Barack Obama, has a socialist agenda when it comes to health care” etc.) and Democrats in general. In those paragraphs he discusses the issues, the “facts”, and so forth.

So let’s take Limbaugh at his word that the “apology” was sincere. And heartfelt. But was it an apology for three days of ridicule, scorn, name-calling, and — most importantly — bald-faced lies?

Let’s go back and see what, precisely, Limbaugh apologizes for (and what “mistakes” he owns up to):

  • I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.
  • My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.
  • But this is the mistake I made. In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them.
  • [A]gainst everything I know to be right and wrong I descended to their level when I used those two words to describe Sandra Fluke. That was my error. I became like them, and I feel very badly about that.
  • [T]hose 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 Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her. I do not think she is either of those two words. I did not think last week that she is either of those two words.
  • The apology to her over the weekend was sincere. It was simply for using inappropriate words in a way I never do, and in so doing, I became like the people we oppose. I ended up descending to their level.
  • [Y]ou never descend to the level of your opponent or they win. That was my error last week.
  • I acted too much like the leftists who despise me. I descended to their level, using names and exaggerations to describe Sandra Fluke. It's what we have come to know and expect of them, but it's way beneath me…. It was wrong, and that's why I've apologized, 'cause I succumbed. I descended to their level.
  • I'm the one who had the falling on this, and for that I genuinely apologized for using those words to describe Ms. Fluke.

I think that the last bulleted point sums things up reasonably well. Limbaugh is apologizing for using “those words” to describe Sandra Fluke, What words, in particular, is he referencing? Well, if you look up just a few bullet points, you’ll find your answer: “[T]hose two words were inappropriate.” (Emphasis added.) Two words. Slut and prostitute. Those are the words that Limbaugh is sincerely apologizing for using. OK. Like I said, I’m willing to take him at his word that his apology for using those two words is sincere and heartfelt. But here’s the problem: He said a lot more than those two words. He lied about Fluke and about what she said. He used lots more words than just slut and prostitute. Those two words were part of the context of a discussion of her sex life. And it wasn’t just an off-hand comment made on the spur of the moment. Rather, he repeated the comments for three days. Even after he’d been called out for the “inappropriate words” he kept at it and kept repeating those words. And then he went even further, even suggesting that Fluke send him a tape of her performing sex acts. And yet Limbaugh expects us to accept that three days of vitriol and lies was not meant to be “a personal attack on Ms. Fluke”? What then was it?

So perhaps, with Limbaugh’s “apology” in mind, it is worth turning to what he actually said about Fluke for those three days. Blogger JohnKWilson, writing for DailyKos, has conveniently compiled Rush’s 53 Smears Against Sandra Fluke (with bonus video!). Note that Limbaugh’s website has now apparently been purged of the transcripts for those days (as originally linked to by JohnKWilson’s post):

Feb. 29, 2012:

1) “testifies she's having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope”
2) “they're having so much sex they can't afford the birth control pills!”
3) “essentially says that 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.”
4) “Sandra Fluke. So much sex going on, they can't afford birth control pills.”

March 1, 2012:

5) “You'd call 'em a slut, a prostitute”
6) “she's having so much sex”
7) “are having so much sex that they’re going broke”
8) “they want to have sex any time, as many times and as often as they want, with as many partners as they want”
9) “the sexual habits of female law students at Georgetown”
10) “are having so much sex that they’re going broke”
11) “having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet”
12) “four out of every ten co-eds are having so much sex that it's hard to make ends meet”
13) “Now, what does that make her? She wants us to buy her sex.”
14) “to pay for these co-eds to have sex”
15) “she and her co-ed classmates are having sex nearly three times a day for three years straight, apparently these deadbeat boyfriends or random hookups that these babes are encountering here, having sex with nearly three times a day”
16) “Therefore we are paying her to have sex. Therefore we are paying her for having sex.”
17) “Have you ever heard of not having sex so often?”
18) “Ms. 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. And I'll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
19) “we want something in return, Ms. Fluke: And that would be the videos of all this sex posted online so we can see what we are getting for our money.”
20) “'If we're paying for this, it makes these women sluts, prostitutes.' And what else could it be?”
21) “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right?”
22) “I'm having sex so damn much, I'm going broke.”
23) “She's having so much sex that she's going broke! There's no question about her virtue.”
24) “having so much sex she's going broke at Georgetown Law.”
25) “Here's a woman exercising no self-control. The fact that she wants to have repeated, never-ending, as often as she wants it sex -- given.”
26) “She's having so much sex it's amazing she can still walk, but she made it up there.”
27) “Maybe they're sex addicts.”
28) “to pay for her to have sex all the time.”
29) “she wants the rest of us to pay for her sex.”
30) “She wants all the sex that she wants all the time paid for by the rest of us.”
31) “Here this babe goes before Congress and wants thousands of dollars to pay for her sex.”
32) “a woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her-life woman.”
33) “She wants all the sex in the world, whenever she wants it, all the time.”
34) “If this woman wants to have sex ten times a day for three years, fine and dandy.”
35) “to provide women from Georgetown Law unlimited, no-consequences sex.”
36) “so she can have unlimited, no-consequences sex.”
37) “You want to have all the sex you want all day long, no consequences, no responsibility for your behavior”
38) “The woman wants unlimited, no-responsibility, no-consequences sex, and she wants it with contraceptives paid for by us.”

March 2, 2012:

39) "she's having so much sex, she can't afford her birth control pills anymore.”
40) “she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it -- and we should.”
41) “She's having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
42) “this, frankly hilarious claim that she's having so much sex (and her buddies with her) that she can't afford it.”
43) “And not one person says, 'Well, did you ever think about maybe backing off the amount of sex that you have?'
44) “Does she have more boyfriends? Ha! They're lined up around the block.”
45) "It was Sandra Fluke who said that she was having so much sex, she can't afford it.”
46) “By her own admission, in her own words, Sandra Fluke is having so much sex that she can't afford it.”
47) “they're having a lot of sex for which they need a lot of contraception.”
48) “Her sex life is active and she's having sex so frequently that she can't afford all the birth control pills that she needs.”
49) “who admits to having so much sex that she can't afford it anymore.”
50) “she's having so much sex, she can't pay for it.”
51) “As frequently as she has sex and to not be pregnant, she's obviously succeeding in contraception.”
52) “Ms. Fluke, asserts her right to free contraceptive, to handle her sex life -- and it's, by her own admission, quite active.”

UPDATE: added thanks to your comments,
53) "Ms. Fluke, who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade, or your contraception?"

So what do you think? Did Limbaugh’s apology cover all of what he actually said? But wait! Before you answer that question, it is also worth noting just how much of what Limbaugh said was an outright lie. You see, much of what Limbaugh said he took from Cybercast News Service. But many of the “facts” that Limbaugh pulled from that article were bald-faced lies. By way of simple example, at no point in her testimony did Fluke ever talk about her own sex life. Don’t believe me? Here’s Sandra Fluke’s testimony (with a transcript):

Leader Pelosi, members of Congress, good morning, and thank you for calling this hearing on women's health and for allowing me to testify on behalf of the women who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage regulation.

My name is Sandra Fluke, and I'm a third-year student at Georgetown Law School. I'm also a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, or LSRJ. And I'd like to acknowledge my fellow LSRJ members and allies, and all of the student activists with us, and thank them so much for being here today.

We, as Georgetown LSRJ, are here today because we're so grateful that this regulation implements the nonpartisan medical advice of the Institute of Medicine. I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens. We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women. Simultaneously, the recently announced adjustment addresses any potential conflict with the religious identity of Catholic and Jesuit institutions.

When I look around my campus, I see the faces of the women affected by this lack of contraceptive coverage. And especially in the last week, I have heard more and more of their stories. On a daily basis, I hear from yet another woman from Georgetown or from another school or who works for a religiously affiliated employer, and they tell me that they have suffered financially, emotionally and medically, because of this lack of coverage. And so I'm here today to share their voices, and I want to thank you for allowing them — them, not me — to be heard.

Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that's practically an entire summer's salary. Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they've struggled financially as a result of this policy.

One told us of how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance, and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn't afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.

Just last week, a married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn't fit it into their budget any more. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face this same choice.

And some might respond that contraception is accessible in lots of other ways. Unfortunately, that's just not true. Women's health clinics provide a vital medical service, but, as the Guttmacher Institute has definitively documented, these clinics are unable to meet the crushing demand for these services. Clinics are closing, and women are being forced to go without the medical care they need.

How can Congress consider the Fortenberry, Rubio and Blunt legislation, that would allow even more employers and institutions to refuse contraception coverage, and then respond that the nonprofit clinics should step up to take care of the resulting medical crisis; particularly when so many legislators are attempting to defund those very same clinics?

These denials of contraceptive coverage impact real people. In the worst cases, women who need this medication for other medical reasons suffer very dire consequences. A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown's insurance, because it's not intended to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, under many religious institutions' insurance plans, it wouldn't be. There would be no exception for other medical needs. And under Senator Blunt's amendment, Senator Rubio's bill or Representative Fortenberry's bill, there's no requirement that such an exception be made for these medical needs.

When this exception does exist, these exceptions don't accomplish their well-intended goals, because when you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors, dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, a woman's health takes a backseat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body. In 65 percent of the cases at our school, our female students were interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they needed prescriptions and whether they were lying about their symptoms. For my friend, and 20 percent of the women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover her prescription. Despite verification of her illness from her doctor, her claim was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wanted birth control to prevent pregnancy. She's gay — so clearly, polycystic ovarian syndrome was a much more urgent concern than accidental pregnancy for her.

After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn't afford her medication anymore, and she had to stop taking it. I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that, in the middle of the night in her final-exam period, she'd been in the emergency room. She'd been there all night in just terrible, excruciating pain. She wrote to me: "It was so painful I woke up thinking I'd been shot." Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result. On the morning I was originally scheduled to give this testimony, she was sitting in a doctor's office trying to cope with the consequences of this medical catastrophe.

Since last year's surgery, she's been experiencing night sweats and awaking and other symptoms of early menopause as a result of the removal of her ovary. She's 32 years old. As she put it: If my body indeed does enter early menopause, no fertility specialist in the world will be able to help me have my own children. I will have no choice at giving my mother her desperately desired grandbabies, simply because the insurance policy — that I paid for, totally unsubsidized by my school — wouldn't cover my prescription for birth control when I needed it. Now, in addition to potentially facing the health complications that come with having menopause at such an early age — increased risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis — she may never be able to conceive a child.

Some may say that my friend's tragic story is rare. It's not. I wish it were. One woman told us doctors believe she has endometriosis, but that can't be proven without surgery. So the insurance has not been willing to cover her medication, the contraception she needs to treat her endometriosis. Recently, another woman told me that she also has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she's struggling to pay for her medication and is terrified not to have access to it. Due to the barriers erected by Georgetown's policy, she hasn't been reimbursed for her medication since last August. I sincerely pray that we don't have to wait until she loses an ovary or is diagnosed with cancer before her needs and the needs of all of these women are taken seriously, because this is the message that not requiring coverage of contraception sends: A woman's reproductive health care isn't a necessity, isn't a priority.

One woman told us that she knew birth control wasn't covered on the insurance, and she assumed that that's how Georgetown's insurance handled all of women's reproductive and sexual health care. So when she was raped, she didn't go to the doctor, even to be examined or tested for sexually transmitted infections, because she thought insurance wasn't going to cover something like that, something that was related to a woman's reproductive health.

As one other student put it, this policy communicates to female students that our school doesn't understand our needs. These are not feelings that male fellow students experience, and they're not burdens that male students must shoulder.

In the media lately, some conservative Catholic organizations have been asking, what did we expect when we enrolled at a Catholic school? We can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success. We expected that our schools would live up the Jesuit creed of "cura personalis," to care for the whole person by meeting all of our medical needs. We expected that when we told our universities of the problems this policy created for us as students, they would help us. We expected that when 94 percent of students opposed the policy, the university would respect our choices regarding insurance students pay for completely unsubsidized by the university.

We did not expect that women would be told in the national media that we should have gone to school elsewhere and — even if that meant going to a less prestigious university. We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health, and we resent that in the 21st century anyone thinks it's acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women.

Many of the women whose stories I've shared today are Catholic women. So ours is not a war against the church. It is a struggle for access to the health care we need. The president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges has shared that Jesuit colleges and universities appreciate the modification to the rule announced recently. Religious concerns are addressed, and women get the health care they need. And I sincerely hope that that is something we can all agree upon.

Thank you very much.

So now that you know both what Fluke really said, what Limbaugh really said, and the content of Limbaugh’s faux apology, I think you’ll have to agree that the “apology” was far from all-encompassing. Limbaugh apologized for those “two words”; but did he apologize for the sentiments behind those words? Did he really mean “tramp” and “harlot” but mistakenly said “slut” and “prostitute”? His apology doesn’t seem to show remorse for impugning Fluke’s sex-life at all. He certainly doesn’t apologize for saying, over and over, that she has too much sex. And his apology doesn’t retract the suggestion that she send him a sex tape.

Add to all of that the fact that Limbaugh’s apology is weighted down with excuse and explanation innuendo and, most importantly, that rather than just accept responsibility, he tried to blame liberals and Democrats by suggesting that he became like them. What? What does that have to do with an apology? What do the actual issues that he may have been trying to discuss have to do with an apology? What does the alleged way in which Democrats argue (and I would of course take issue with Limbaugh’s “down to their level” suggestion) have to do with his apology? (It sounds like a child: “I’m sorry for hitting you Johnny, but I only did it because your friend Pete pushed my friend Tommy one day.”) What does any of that have to do with lying about what Fluke actually said in her testimony and then criticizing her on the basis of things that she didn’t say?

A few final points on Limbaugh’s “apology”. Some have tried to analogize Limbaugh’s comments to Ed Schultz calling Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” and a “talk slut”. But here are a few very important differences to note. First, the reference was singular. Schultz didn’t repeat the comment for three days. Nor was his comment embedded in a longer series of highly personal attacks against Ingraham. For that matter, it doesn’t appear that the comment was even sexual, but that point isn’t worth debating. Second, Schultz apologized quite promptly and was suspended from his program for the comments. I don’t think that Schultz’s comments come anywhere close to being as offensive as Limbaugh’s. But if people really want to compare the incidents, then it is certainly worth comparing Schultz’s apology to the faux apology offered by Limbaugh:

Good evening, Americans and welcome to The Ed Show from New York tonight. Thomas Roberts will be here tonight anchoring the program, but first I want to take some time to offer an apology. On my radio show yesterday I used vile and inappropriate language when talking about talk show host Laura Ingraham. I am deeply sorry, and I apologize. It was wrong, uncalled for and I recognize the severity of what I said. I apologize to you, Laura, and ask for your forgiveness.

It doesn't matter what the circumstances were. It doesn't matter that it was on radio and I was ad-libbing. None of that matters. None of that matters. What matters is what I said was terribly vile and not of the standards that I or any other person should adhere to. I want all of you to know tonight that I did call Laura Ingraham today and did not make contact with her and I will apologize to her as I did in the message that I left her today.

I also met with management here at MSNBC, and understanding the severity of the situation and what I said on the radio and how it reflected terribly on this company, I have offered to take myself off the air for an indefinite period of time with no pay. I want to apologize to Laura Ingraham. I want to apologize to my family, my wife. I have embarrassed my family. I have embarrassed this company.

And I have been in this business since 1978, and I have made a lot of mistakes. This is the lowest of low for me. I stand before you tonight in front of this camera in this studio in an environment that I absolutely love. I love working here. I love communicating with all of you on the radio and the communication that I have with you when I go out and do town hall meetings and meet the people that actually watch. I stand before you tonight to take full responsibility for what I said and how I said it, and I am deeply sorry.

My wife is a wonderful woman. We have a wonderful family. And with six kids and eight grandkids, I try to set an example. In this moment, I have failed. And I want you to know that I talked to my sons especially about character and about dignity and about the truth. And I tell you the truth tonight that I am deeply sorry and I tell them every day that they have to live up to standards if they want to be a successful human being in life. And I have let them down. I have never been in this position before to the point where it has affected so many people. And I know that I have let a lot of people down.

To the staff here at MSNBC, I apologize for embarrassing the company and the only way that I can really make restitution for you is to give you a guarantee, and the only way that I can prove my sincerity in all of this is if I never use those words again. Tonight, you have my word that I won't. Laura Ingraham, I am sorry. Very sorry. I'll be back with you in the coming days.

I think it’s also worth noting that Schultz made the effort to speak directly to Ingraham to apologize. And he didn’t try to place his statement within some sort of context; in fact, he noted specifically that the circumstances didn’t matter; the only thing that mattered was what he said.

Limbaugh apologized for a very small part of what he did wrong. He made that apology “contextual” and he sought to try to divert some of the attention from his own misconduct and poor choices to others. If it weren’t for the nature of the what Limbaugh was apologizing for, this might be the perfect way to show my children precisely how not to offer an apology (I think I’ll wait a bit longer before discussing birth control, sluts, and prostitution, let alone sex tapes, with my kids).

Given the exodus of Limbaugh’s sponsors, even after the faux “apology” was offered, it seems clear that I’m not the only one who doesn’t put much value in Limbaugh’s apology. He’s made a career of insulting people. (Does anyone remember the things he said about Amy Carter or Hillary Clinton when they were both children? If not, Google it…) But finally it appears that his big mouth has gotten him into the trouble that he has managed to elude for so long. I can’t wait to hear Limbaugh’s apology to the radio stations that carry his show as they begin to complain about lost ad revenues.

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At Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:06:00 AM , Blogger Josh said...

Interesting. This reminds me of this article by Scott Adams, the author of Dilbert, on public apologies. He offered his observations on what he thinks is a highly effective format for apologies. Full article here:

I really enjoyed reading this entry (not that I'm happy about what happened but in a way that I enjoy reading a news article)

At Thursday, March 15, 2012 10:24:00 AM , Blogger MSWallack said...

Thanks for the link, Josh. However, I'm not sure that I agree with Adams' explanation of the purpose of an apology. There is also a moral component, that is trying to remedy the actual wrong, whether real or perceived. And I'm not sure that I would so quickly discount any harm that Limbaugh's comment may have caused to Fluke. Yes she is an activist for women's reproductive rights issues, but going from a campus activist to testifying before Congress ... and then being called a slut and prostitute by a man claiming to have an audience of 20 million... Wow. Plus, Adams seems to gloss over the fact that so much of what Limbaugh said, putting aside the insults, was simply bald-faced lies. That is the real harm for which he should be apologizing. To use lies to influence the debate and to change that debate from substance to ad hominem attack is both wrong and dangerous.


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