ABC’s “The View” scored a coup Monday when it snagged Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke’s first TV interview since Rush Limbaugh gave an “apology” for calling her a “slut,” which Fluke sloughed off.
The talk-radio host had commented on Fluke after she testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health-care policy, which would compel her Jesuit college’s health plan to cover birth control.
“I don’t think that a statement like this, issued saying that his ‘choice of words was not the best,’ changes anything,” Fluke told “The View” Mother Superior Babs Walter on Monday, in response to Walters’s question, “Do you accept his apology?”
Limbaugh last week on his popular syndicated radio show said: “What does it say about the college coed [Sandra] Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraceptives. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”
The next day on his show, Limbaugh suggested that Fluke post videos of her sexual activity “so taxpayers can see what we’re getting for our money.”
On Saturday, however, he issued a statement online saying that “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 choice.”
On Monday’s “The View,” co-host Joy Behar said she was surprised that Limbaugh had not called Fluke to apologize. “I think his statements that he made on the air about me have been personal enough,” Fluke said, “so I’d rather not have a personal phone call from him.”
Furthermore, Fluke told the ladies of “The View, this “was not someone who made one accidental statement. This was three days of significant portions of his three-hour show. He insulted me and the women of Georgetown who have received no apology. He insulted us over 53 times.”
Asked whether she wanted Limbaugh fired, Fluke said: “I’m going to leave that up to the sponsors, to [show distributor] Clear Channel Communications, and to the members of the American public who support those companies. And what I’ll just say is that Americans have a long tradition of supporting companies that share the values that they have, and I’m sure that they will continue to uphold that tradition.”
That is just the kind of talk for which Walters had had to rap the knuckles of Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd at the top of the show, before Fluke’s appearance.
After trying unsuccessfully to cut off her co-hosts as they waxed enthusiastic about the advertiser bailing on Limbaugh’s show, Walters seized control of the kitchen table at the heart of “The View” and brought them into line:
“No, advertisers should not drop out, if they like Rush Limbaugh in general,” Walters said sternly. “I’m speaking for this show. We say things on this show that people do not like. And that is one of the important parts of the show. It’s one of the reasons that I have been so proud of it, is that we have different opinions and advertisers do not drop us.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to say since we started,” Walters, who has an equity stake in the show, said peevishly.
Goldberg was back on “The View” after going to Los Angeles to guest-star on one of her favorite shows, ABC’s “The Middle.”
Funny thing about “The Middle”: Its star, Patricia Heaton, fled Twitter late last week after getting a thrashing over her helpful tweets to Fluke — or, as Heaton calls her, “Georgetown Gal.” Tweets such as: “If every [Heaton fan on Twitter] sent Georgetown Gal one condom, her parents wouldn’t have to cancel basic cable, & she would never reproduce — sound good?”
Heaton shuttered her Twitter account and deleted her tweets, becoming the latest celebrity to learn that accounts may come and go, but incendiary tweets last forever because they get grabbed by others and reposted.
Some time later, Heaton cautiously dipped her toe back into the murky waters of Twitter to let the world know she had apologized to Fluke, tweeting: “I may not agree with her views, but I didn’t treat her with respect and I’m sorry. I was wrong. Mea Culpa.”
For previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/ tvcolumn.