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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Getting the Limbaugh record straighter
Wednesday - 3/21/2012, 12:54pm EDT
As a newsman who grew up with the old fashioned notion of trying to get the record straight, I have been puzzled by the reporting on the Rush Limbaugh attack on Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University student.
I declare up front that I am no Limbaugh fan and consider him the way God considered the snake. And it is fitting, given Mr. Limbaugh's record with women, that God, after condemning the snake, added, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman…"
News reports, even including those of the FOX opinion network, have documented Mr. Limbaugh's name-calling of Miss Fluke as a "slut" and "prostitute." His slander was prompted by Miss Fluke because she spoke out for employer-paid health care to include contraceptive drugs.
Mr. Limbaugh himself has admitted he was wrong in using those two words and apologized. He hasn't said he was wrong about anything else he said.
Most of the legitimate news reports-not opinion comments-have credited Mr. Limbaugh with his apology. But these reports have focused mostly on the two words and his subsequent demand that he and the world be allowed to see videos of Ms. Fluke having sex.
What is curious to me is that very few of the news stories have questioned Mr. Limbaugh's facts or his sources for his slander. A quick look at his bombast finds that he not only showed contemptuous, boorish behavior but he was not telling the truth.
Here's a short list taken from Mr. Limbaugh's own loud mouth:
- He reported on February 29, as fact, that Ms. Fluke's women colleagues at Georgetown "are having so much sex that they're going broke." He was wrong. Ms. Fluke said no such thing in her testimony before a Congressional hearing.
- Mr. Limbaugh said Ms. Fluke was "having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills." Not true and not in her testimony.
- Mr. Limbaugh said Ms. Fluke "wants to be paid to have sex." Again, unfounded. Ms. Fluke never said she wanted to be paid to have sex.
- Mr. Limbaugh said on March 1 that he got his information from a Cybercast News Service reporter, but offered no proof of the inflammatory internet accusation.
Mr. Limbaugh then repeated his earlier false statements and added, "I want to know who bought, Ms. Fluke, who bought your condoms in junior high? Who bought your condoms in the sixth grade…" Again, false. He had no proof that Ms. Fluke had sex in the sixth grade or any other grade.
Mr. Limbaugh's defenders aren't likely to be bothered by his despicable tastelessness. That's standard fare. But they, and the reporters who cover this story, should be concerned about whether he's telling the truth. Judging by his record here, he's not.