Obama weighs in on Limbaugh 'slut' furore

2012-03-07 12:00
Washington - US President Barack Obama publicly faulted talk-show host Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday for calling a law student a "slut" in an on-air rant about contraception and health insurance.

Speaking at a White House press conference, Obama declined to comment on Limbaugh's apology to Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke or the flight of sponsors from the right-wing broadcaster's syndicated radio programme.

"What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made [by Limbaugh] don't have any place in the public discourse," said the president, who is facing re-election in November.

Limbaugh branded Fluke "a slut" and "a prostitute" after she told Democratic lawmakers in Washington about Catholic-affiliated Georgetown's refusal to include contraceptive in its health insurance plan.

Twenty-six sponsors quit his show in the ensuing furore, according to a "flush Rush" social media campaign, although one accused advertiser, Geico insurance, insisted it had been steering clear of Limbaugh for years.

Concern for daughters

"We do not place ads on Rush's programme. We do not sponsor the show. We have repeatedly alerted our partners that our ads are never to run during his programme," said Geico, which is owned by corporate tycoon Warren Buffett.

Obama explained that he personally telephoned Fluke on Friday to express his support amid the uproar, out of concern for his own two daughters, aged 13 and 10, and his wish for them to be engaged with issues they care about.

"I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way, and I don't want them attacked or called horrible names because they're being good citizens," he said.

"And I wanted Sandra to know that I thought her parents should be proud of her, and that we want to send a message to all our young people that being part of a democracy involves argument and disagreements and debate... and there's a way to do it that doesn't involve you being demeaned and insulted, particularly when you're a private citizen."

Birth control is a major issue as the 2012 election campaign heats up, after Republicans and the Roman Catholic church denounced Obama's bid to compel all employers - including those with religious affiliations - to offer contraception in their employee health plans.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  us

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