Rush Limbaugh is hopping mad at the Democratic Party — but this time he’s threatening to do more than just talk about it on the radio.
The conservative pundit is threatening to sue the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for a series of fundraising e-mails that suggested Limbaugh was condoning campus rape in comments he made on his widely syndicated program on Sept. 15.
In a letter to the Washington-based organization intended for delivery Monday morning, Limbaugh’s lawyer demanded a retraction and a public apology for the fundraising e-mails. The letter indicated Limbaugh will sue for defamation and business “interference” if his demand isn’t met.
DCCC representatives were not available Monday; the organization’s offices are closed for the Veterans Day holiday.
The legal threat is the result of DCCC fundraising appeals sent out in the wake of Limbaugh’s on-air comments about a new policy at Ohio State University that instructs students to get verbal consent before having sex. The DCCC highlighted one particular sentence from his commentary — “How many of you guys . . . have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it?” — saying it was tantamount to condoning sexual assault.
Limbaugh says the DCCC took the comment out of context and twisted it in its fundraising appeals. “We love opinions, but this crossed a very bright line,” said Limbaugh’s spokesman, Brian Glicklich, in an interview. “They lied about his words. They quoted something specific and out of context, and it is a lie.”
The DCCC used the comment in three e-mail blasts seeking funds and created a Web page encouraging supporters to boycott Limbaugh’s advertisers. “Comments of this offensive nature are inexcusable,” wrote the DCCC’s chairman, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, in one such e-mail. “Rush Limbaugh is advocating for the tolerance of sexual assault. He should be taken off the air immediately.”
Israel asked recipients to sign a petition calling on Limbaugh’s advertisers to stop supporting his program.
In his commentary, Limbaugh attacked the step-by-step nature of Ohio State’s policy, asserting it imposed a legalistic regime on male “seduction” of women. He said that sexual consent was often more subtle than Ohio State’s policy suggested.
“Seduction used to be an art. Now, of course, it’s ‘brutish’ and it’s ‘predatory’ and it’s bad,” he said on the air. Quoting the Ohio State policy, he said, “‘consent must be freely given, and can be withdrawn anytime, and the absence of ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes.’ ”
He then commented, “How many of you guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it? I’m probably. . . . Let me tell you something, in this modern [world], that is simply, that’s not tolerated. People aren’t even going to try to understand that one. It used to be said as a cliche, it used to be part of the advice young boys were given.” He added, apparently facetiously, “See, that’s what we’ve got to change. We have got to reprogram the way we raise men. So now . . . permission every step of the way, clearly spelling out ‘why.’ [Are] these [policies] not lawsuits waiting to happen if even one of these steps is not taken?”
The letter to the DCCC was signed by his attorney, Patricia Glaser, a prominent litigator in Los Angeles. Glaser was also the lead attorney on a defamation lawsuit filed by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder against the Washington City Paper in 2011. That suit was dropped before the 2011 football season.
Glicklich said Limbaugh was seeking an apology and retraction that was “every bit as pervasive and widely distributed” as the DCCC’s original e-mails.