WASHINGTON - Radio host Rush Limbaugh said his apology to the Georgetown law student he called a “slut’’ was sincere but also joked that he, too, got a busy signal Monday when he called the show to join the growing roster of advertisers abandoning it.
The student, Sandra Fluke, said Limbaugh’s apology did nothing to change the corrosive tone of the debate over health care coverage, and that Americans have to decide whether they want to support companies continuing to advertise on his program.
AOL and Tax Resolution Services Co. on Monday became the eighth and ninth advertisers to leave Limbaugh’s three-hour show as he sought to stem the exodus of advertisers, and fellow conservatives declined to offer him support.
“I should not have used the language I did, and it was wrong,’’ a rarely contrite Limbaugh told listeners.
But callers to the show urged him not to give in to critics, which now include Republican leaders in Congress and those seeking the GOP presidential nomination. He blamed the media for the pressure.
“Talk about a double standard,’’ Limbaugh said. “Rappers can say anything they want about women. It’s called art. And they win awards.’’
Fluke, who testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health care policy that would compel her Jesuit college’s health plan to cover her birth control, said she had not heard from Limbaugh directly but signaled she had little interest in speaking with him.
She said his criticism of her beliefs was an attack on women’s health.
“I think any woman who has ever been called these types of names is [shocked] at first,’’ Fluke told ABC’s “The View.’’
“But then I tried to see this for what it is, and I believe that what it is, is an attempt to silence me, to silence the millions of women and the men who support them who have been speaking out about this issue and conveying that contraception is an important health care need that they need to have met in an affordable, accessible way.’’
Fluke had been invited to testify to a House committee about her school’s health care plan, which does not include contraception.
Republican lawmakers barred her from testifying during that hearing, but Democrats invited her back.
Limbaugh sought to find some humor in the situation.
“I called myself to cancel my advertising. I got a busy signal,’’ he deadpanned at the start of Monday’s program.