In a move that only ensures that this battle will get a lot worse from here on out, AOL has become the eighth advertiser to yank sponsorship from Rush Limbaugh’s show in the wake of his “slut” comments:
“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.”
Remarkably, this comes as some prominent conservatives are doubling down in their support for him. “Rally for Rush,” CNN contributor and RedState.com blogger Erick Erickson tweeted this morning, circulating a link to an American Spectator story with the same name. Rush Limbaugh has become a walking wedge issue.
Perhaps the most important thing about AOL’s decision is that it shows that Rush’s apology over the weekend has done absolutely nothing to reassure his sponsors or to quell the controversy. Public apologies of this sort are supposed to accomplish two goals. They are supposed to give people on your own side a way to say, “look, he admitted wrongdoing, it’s time to move on.” And they are supposed to get neutral arbiters — such as reporters and nonpartisan commentators — to think you sincerely regret your words, and to treat the story as resolved.
Limbaugh’s statement did acknowledge that his words towards Sandra Fluke had been “insulting,” and he said: “I sincerely apologize.” But in the same statement, he opined that “it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress.” In other words, even in his apology he kept the attack going.
It’s worth recalling how this whole fight began: It all started when House Republicans denied a little-known Georgetown student a chance to testify at a hearing they were staging on contraception and religious liberty. Since then, it has ballooned into a major national controversy that seems to be putting pressure on leading Republicans to distance themselves from one of the most prominent voices in the party and could even have ramifications in the presidential race.
Dems have done their part to strategically feed the story: House Democrats held their own hearing with Fluke, which promted the Rush diatribe that made the story go national. President Obama weighed in with a well timed phone call to Fluke that gave national reporters the hook they needed to ask the leading GOP presidential candidates whether they were prepared to distance themselves from Rush.
It’s gotten so bad that Rush felt the need to reiterate today that his weekend apology was sincere. But as Erik Wemple notes, there was nothing new in today’s apology — it just smacked of desperation and bitterness, and he even stooped to blaming the left for his troubles. Those troubles will surely continue — and the question now is how bad they will get for his party.