Far be it from me to note the superficial and inconsequential, but when I see Fluke I think more “chaste librarian” than raging “slut.”
By Olivia Nuzzi
The Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh drama has succeeded in sparking a national debate about false equivalency in the media. Of course, things like sexism and misogyny exist on both the right and left. But on which side is it worse? And on which side – if any – is it fundamental?
In a piece posted here yesterday, Art Gallagher attacked “misogynists lefties” whom he admitted he had “never heard of” until The Daily Beast’s Kristen Powers brought them to his attention. Though, not knowing about these media figures didn’t stop Gallagher from blindly agreeing with Powers that they were “misogynists.”
I have a big problem with anyone making a diagnosis from a distance. Is Rush Limbaugh a misogynist? I suppose to figure that out you’d have to talk to his mother and four wives.
Does Rush Limbaugh say misogynistic things, and has he done so consistently throughout his career? From his claim that having “two or three abortions” is a part of a feminist “paying her dues” to his cracks about First Lady Michelle Obama’s figure, the evidence isn’t difficult to find.
However, none of that means that Limbaugh is without insight. And liberals who nod in agreement with the establishment left – conceding that he’s a mere useless blowhard – are not doing themselves any favors.
Limbaugh is right on occasion – there are indeed militant feminists, and what they espouse is arguably as harmful as Mel Gibson calling your daughter “sugar tits.” Admitting that doesn’t mean that I’m not a feminist, it means I’m not an ideological imbecile (though the readers on this website may disagree.)
The assertion that “lefties” are never reprimanded for their sexist or racist remarks may read as accurate if you live in a bubble. Evidently, Gallagher’s bubble hasn’t yet been punctured by reality on this topic.
Last May, MSNBC host and converted-liberal, Ed Schultz, was suspended by the network after calling Laura Ingraham a “right wing slut” on his radio program. I condemned that statement, as did every one from Alyssa Rosenberg from the left-wing Think Progress, to the Women’s Media Center’s President Julie Burton, to Keith Olbermann – that’d be one of those “misogynists lefties” Gallagher had “never heard of.”
In 2008, the National Organization for Women (NOW) circulated a petition, protesting MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ “record of ‘overt sexism when discussing women.'” They based this claim on research conducted by the known-liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America. The left-leaning NOW denounced Matthews for “sexist comments” made about Hillary Clinton, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the female correspondents who he worked with at MSNBC.
Also in 2008, MSNBC suspended Tucker Carlson’s guest-host David Shuster for suggesting that the Clinton campaign had “pimped out” Chelsea Clinton.
The late, great Christopher Hitchens was often the subject of liberal rage for his alleged sexism in the form of observations such as “Mrs. Clinton, looking like the dog being washed” and assessments of that same target as being “flagrant, hysterical, repetitive and pathological lying.” One of Hitchens’ later works, a Vanity Fair piece entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny” saw him denounced as “sexist” by Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar and comedian Sarah Silverman.
In 2010, liberal hero Michael Moore, along with noted feminist author Naomi Wolfe, was the subject of a left-wing protest labeled “Moore and Me.” After making comments deemed “insensitive” regarding rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and offering to post his $20,000 bail, Moore was declared a “rape apologist.” Also smeared with the label was Naomi Wolfe, who – along with Moore and a handful of others – refused to condemn and dismiss Assange by virtue of the unclear rape allegations made against him.
And should you be under the impression that those on the left are only castigated when they’re criticizing fellow liberals, you’re mistaken.
Keith Olbermann has come under fire numerous times from the liberal and feminist establishments for his bombastic remarks about conservative women. In 2009, Olbermann was called out by the left-wing Air America’s editor of news and politics, Megan Carpentier, for “belittling” Malkin’s voice with his impersonation of her. Carpentier went on to suggest that Olbermann’s attack relied on “silly stereotypes” and “imagery that brings to mind victims of domestic violence.”
This past November, Bill Maher – another one of those “misogynists lefties” Gallagher had “never heard of” – was scolded by feminists after he made a joke about the detention of CBS’s Lara Logan, wherein he suggested that America would be willing to send Elisabeth Hasselbeck to Egypt in exchange for the safe return of the foreign correspondent.
The Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh episode is a unique one, mainly because Sandra Fluke is not a public figure. Limbaugh did not simply take a one-shot at a commentator – he used his platform as the loudest voice in radio to verbally batter a civilian for days.
Far be it from me to note the superficial and inconsequential, but when I see Fluke I think more “chaste librarian” than raging “slut.” Not to mention, Fluke’s testimony itself had nothing to do with sex. Which leads me to believe that Limbaugh didn’t even bother to listen to her speak – and perhaps he didn’t even bother to look at her. Had he done so, he would’ve witnessed a civil woman discuss a friend who paid, out of pocket, for the birth control pills she was prescribed to treat a medical condition.
It’s true that both the liberal and conservative movements have leaders, followers and mouthpieces who often thoughtlessly employ incendiary rhetoric. But it’s also true that those with sharp tongues on both sides of the aisle face consequences.
Unfortunately for ideologues, more people are governed by their sense of Right and Wrong than Right and Left.
Olivia Nuzzi was briefly a MMM contributor until Dan Jacobson’s triCityNews lured her away with money and colorful language. We’re glad to have her back, even if only to set us straight.