The Rush Limbaugh versus Sandra Fluke controversy has led to a larger conversation about misogyny over the past week. But while many have attacked Limbaugh, a conservative, talking heads like Bill Maher, Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann, have largely escaped scrutiny, leading many conservatives -- and some liberals -- to wonder if there's a double standard at play.
Many, seeing the strong reaction that Limbaugh received as a result of his comments about Fluke, claim that liberals often get away with making similar statements without a subsequent uproar. With pressure mounting on some liberal personalities to own up to their past sexist quips, it seems some talking heads may be buckling under the pressure.
Maher, who has called Sarah Palin the c-word in the past has already come out defending Limbaugh and saying that it's time for the left to accept his apology. And last night, Olbermann took to his Current TV show to apologize to GBTV's S.E. Cupp and Michelle Malkin, while explaining the words he has used against these conservative women. While he started out by making fun of the Republican party and poking at specific conservatives who have stood against his past remarks, Olbermann did, eventually, apologize.
At the center of his angst was the notion that his past comments about these women were equal in tone to Limbaugh's statements about Fluke -- an accusation that Daily Beast writer Kirsten Powers waged (Powers called Olbermann a "misogynist" who participates in the "war on women"). On his "Countdown" show, the host dismissed these "desperate false equivalencies."
Here's what Powers wrote about Olbermann in her column:
Keith Olbermann has said that conservative commentator S.E. Cupp should have been aborted by her parents, apparently because he finds her having opinions offensive. He called Michelle Malkin a “mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick.” He found it newsworthy to discuss Carrie Prejean’s breasts on his MSNBC show. His solution for dealing with Hillary Clinton, who he thought should drop out of the presidential race, was to find “somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.” Olbermann now works for über-leftist and former Democratic vice president Al Gore at Current TV.
"The false equivalency has been fronted by one of the house tamed liberals on FOX News," Olbermann proclaimed, clearly sliding in a dig aimed at Powers. Then, he continued, poking at the right, differentiating his past comments about women from Limbaugh's and, inevitably, after a great deal of commentary, apologizing to both Malkin and Cupp.
"In the desperate spin on Limbaugh's behalf, I've been accused of using similar language regarding conservative bloggers Michelle Malkin and S.E. Cupp...," he said. "There is an overall quality of apples to oranges here. Both of those people were veterans of this country's political dialogue about whom I made one comment each. They were not private citizens intending a brief dip of the toe into the cultural pool..."
While dismissing his attacks on these women, Olbermann conveniently left out other allegations surrounding Prejean and Clinton. He continued:
"I think Rush Limbaugh actually has done some good work here. I think the previous standard for offensive remarks about women has proven too low -- so low that it took a week, two station cancellations and 45 sponsored-bailouts before Limbaugh even realized he was near it -- let alone that he had crossed it by 45 miles. So I want to raise that standard. I think from now on we all need to be extra vigilant and dial the filter up a few more notches."
In a self-imposed effort to take a higher road, Olbermann did finally apologize for causing distress to Cupp and Malkin. Additionally, he pledged to suspend his "Worst Persons" segment (this isn't the first time) and promised to watch his words more carefully and issues the same challenge to others in the media -- particularly those on the right.
"I'm going to try to raise my standard about not using gratuitously abusive remarks about women and men," he said.
Cupp responded to the apology on Twitter this morning:
Watch his commentary, below:
It's worth noting, again, the selective nature of Olbermann's apology. If he was willing to address comments against Malkin and Cupp, why not also dismiss the charge that he also insulted Clinton and Prejean? This causes one to wonder if the latter two allegations do, indeed, add fuel to Powers' claims.