Rush Limbaugh apologizes to Sandra Fluke for calling her a "slut" on his radio show, a remark that ignited a firestorm of comments and cost him advertising sponsors. NBC's Lester Holt and David Gregory report on the day's political news.
Updated March 4: The outcry over Rush Limbaugh calling birth control activist Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute,” seems to have worked. Several days after his attempt to slut-shame the Georgetown University law student, Limbaugh issued a rare apology on his website, saying "in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize."
The conservative radio host also claimed he wasn't against birth control, according to a transcript of his show.
But the apology may be too little, too late for scores of women who felt personally stung by the attack.
"Hey @rushlimbaugh. Apologies are 3 things: I was wrong, I'm sorry, I won't do it again. You failed," tweeted @StephanieReads on Sunday.
@DCDebbie tweeted, "Dear @RushLimbaugh, I'm not buying your apology and I'm not buying from your ad sponsors .... "
On TODAY's Facebook page, a user called it "one of those non-apology apologies that come off as snide and condescending."
Until Limbaugh's web apology Saturday, it was impossible to keep up with the thousands of Tweets about his radio outburst, virtually all critical.
First published March 2: “Somehow only NOW catching up on the Sandra Fluke v. Rush Limbaugh drama,” one woman posted at around 6 p.m. ET Friday. “Wish I hadn't, because now my head is going to explode. Wow.”
By Friday, Fluke had more than 16, 000 Twitter followers. (Update: On Sunday, Fluke's Twitter followers topped 22,000)
Fluke had testified during an unofficial Democratic committee hearing about how a friend had been unable to pay for the birth control needed to shrink ovarian cysts and help preserve her fertility. Fluke had been previously blocked from testifying before a Republican-led, all-male congressional panel on contraception and religious freedom.
For his part, Limbaugh argued Friday on his radio show that “Republicans don't hate women, are not at war with women, and never have been. It's absolutely absurd.” He expressed surprise that many considered him a danger to women. “At the end of the week, I am the person that the women of America are to fear the most?” he asked listeners. “What can I do to the women of America?”
Galvanize them, perhaps. On its website Friday, The Feminist Majority Foundation launched a pledge drive entitled “”Stand with Sandra.” Eleanor Smeal, president of the nonprofit organization and a former president of the National Organization for Women, called Limbaugh’s comments “nothing more than name calling and trying to distort the issue."
Even if women wanted to respond in kind to Limbaugh, Smeal told msnbc.com, there aren't nearly as many loaded words for men as those so often casually used for defiant women.
Janet Hyde, the Helen Thompson Woolley Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, says such name-calling “is a method for exerting power and control over women.”
If that was Limbaugh’s goal, Friday’s tweets suggest he failed. “I'd love to know what Limbaugh’s wife thinks about his recent tirade,” one woman wrote. “I bet she's too busy holding aspirin between her knees to comment.”
Limbaugh’s call for the posting of videotapes of women who use birth control went beyond sticks and stones, though, says Kathi Miner, an assistant professor of psychology and women’s and gender studies at Texas A&M University, who described the notion as “a form of sexual violence.”
The president of Georgetown, a Catholic Jesuit institution, defended Fluke’s right to express her views without fear of attack. “This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people,” John DeGioia wrote in a letter posted on the university’s website. “One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression.”
And yet, DeGioia said, citing Limbaugh, some people who disagreed with Fluke’s position “responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.”
Msnbc.com's Jane Weaver contributed to this report
What did you think of Rush Limbaugh's comments? Tell us on Facebook.