What Double Standard?
Is This the Lowest Limbaugh Can Go?—David Frum
In my column for CNN, I explain why Rush Limbaugh is not facing a double-standard:
"It's not fair!"
As advertisers quit the Rush Limbaugh radio program -- and as Republican politicians squirm uncomfortably -- the broadcaster's fans are complaining about double standards.
Yes, they'll concede, maybe Limbaugh went too far in denouncing a female law student as a "slut" and a "prostitute" and then demanding that she post a sex tape online for him to view.
But look (they continue) at all the liberal/lefty broadcasters who have also said obnoxious things! No one calls Democratic politicians to account for them. Why us?
It's a question that will be aired often in the week ahead. Here's the answer, in four points.
Point 1: Even by the rough standards of cable/talk radio/digital talk, Limbaugh's verbal abuse of Sandra Fluke set a new kind of low. I can't recall anything as brutal, ugly and deliberate ever being said by such a prominent person and so emphatically repeated. This was not a case of a bad "word choice." It was a brutally sexualized accusation, against a specific person, prolonged over three days.
Point 2: The cases that conservatives cite as somehow equivalent to Limbaugh's tirade against Fluke by and large did bring consequences for their authors.
After David Letterman for example made an ugly joke about Sarah Palin's daughter, he delivered an abject seven-minute apology on air. (To which Palin responded by refusing the apology and insinuating that David Letterman was a child molester.)
When liberal talker Ed Schultz nastily called my dear friend Laura Ingraham a "slut" on his radio show, MSNBC responded by suspending Schultz for a week without pay from his TV show. Schultz likewise apologized in person on air. (Ingraham accepted the apology with grace and humor.)