ABC Scolds GOP Candidates as ‘Cowards’ for Inadequately Rebuking Limbaugh: ‘Not Exactly Profiles in Courage’

ABC on Monday night rebuked the Republican presidential field for not adequately condemning Rush Limbaugh for his “slut” characterization of Sandra Fluke, for which he apologized on his Monday radio show. “The Republican presidential candidates still tried to dodge having to make tough comments about the power broker,” anchor Diane Sawyer announced in framing the World News story.

Reporter Dan Harris contended, without identifying who is making such a complaint, that “leading Republicans are essentially being called cowards for their tepid criticism of America’s most powerful conservative radio host.” After a bite of Mitt Romney saying “it’s not the language I would have used,” Harris snidely asserted: “Not exactly Profiles in Courage material.”

He then ran a soundbite from George Will on Sunday’s This Week: “Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was ‘inappropriate.’ Using the salad fork for your entree, that’s inappropriate.”

NBC focused its Nightly News piece on Limbuagh losing advertisers, but reporter Anne Thompson couldn’t resist pointing out “Republicans aren’t rallying around the conservative icon either.” To illustrate, she played a clip of Mike Murphy on Sunday’s Meet the Press taking a pot-shot at Limbaugh unrelated to the propriety of what he said on the radio: “The big myth about Rush Limbaugh is he can’t deliver a pizza, let alone a vote. A lot of noise.”

That quip came in response to host David Gregory who had also pushed the line that Romney as been too timid toward Limbaugh: “Was this a ‘Sister Souljah Moment’ that Romney missed?” (My Sunday NB post, with video.)

From the Monday, March 5 ABC World News, transcript provided by the MRC’s Brad Wilmouth, who corrected the closed-captioning against the video:

DIANE SAWYER: It was turbulent today as conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh tried to steer through the whirlwind he unleashed after calling a law school student speaking out about contraception, quote, a “slut” and a “prostitute.” One radio station canceled his show. More big sponsors withdrew. And, as Limbaugh apologized again, the Republican presidential candidates still tried to dodge having to make tough comments about the power broker. ABC's Dan Harris has it all.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The apology was sincere.

DAN HARRIS: A rare and public apology today from Rush Limbaugh to Sandra Fluke, the 30-year-old law student who Limbaugh mocked last week for arguing to Congress that insurers should cover birth control costs.

LIMBAUGH CLIP #1: She must be paid to have sex.

LIMBAUGH CLIP #2: It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute.

LIMBAUGH CLIP #3: And I again sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for using those two words to describe her.

HARRIS: Fluke appeared on ABC’s The View this morning and afterwards spoke to us, saying Limbaugh’s apology changed nothing.

SANDRA FLUKE, GEORGETOWN LAW SCHOOL STUDENT: He said that I was having so much sex that he was surprised I could still walk to get to Capitol Hill. It’s so vile.

HARRIS: So vile as to be perhaps unforgivable?

FLUKE: Perhaps.

HARRIS: Today, more companies, including AOL and Allstate, pulled their ads from the program, making it at least 10 sponsors who apparently feel that calling a woman a “slut” does not jibe with their marketing plan. But with 15 million weekly listeners on nearly 600 stations across America, it may be that in the words of one expert, Rush is too big to fail. Meanwhile, leading Republicans are essentially being called cowards for their tepid criticism of America's most powerful conservative radio host.

MITT ROMNEY: It’s not the language I would have used.

HARRIS: Not exactly Profiles in Courage material.

GEORGE WILL, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: -Boehner comes out and says Rush’s language was “inappropriate.” Using the salad fork for your entree, that’s inappropriate.

HARRIS: As for Sandra Fluke, she says she has heard just about enough from Rush Limbaugh. What if he were to call you and say, “I personally want to apologize to you directly”? Could that make a difference?

FLUKE: I want to be very clear that I don’t want a personal phone call from him. The attacks he made against me personally on the air were enough personal contact for a lifetime.

HARRIS: Dan Harris, ABC News, New York.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center