Can we give the Moron Award to Rush Limbaugh?

For those of you who haven’t heard, last week Limbaugh called a Georgetown law student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for speaking at a Democratic House of Representatives event. She called for  religion-affiliated institutions, such as Georgetown, to cover contraception in their health plans. Because it’s not covered, she said some pay up to $1,000 per year.

Apparently Limbaugh thinks she must be both a slut and a prostitute “if she required so much costly contraception.”

But then he upped the ante by saying she is, “A woman who is happily presenting herself as an immoral, baseless, no-purpose-to-her life woman. She wants all the sex in the world whenever she wants it, all the time, no consequences. No responsibility for her behavior.”

The National Organization for Women called for Clear Channel to take Limbaugh off the air and, while the company hasn’t done that, the advertisers are speaking.

During the weekend, ProFlowers was the seventh company to pull its advertising from Limbaugh’s show. They announced it on their Facebook wall.

And, just yesterday, AOL and Tax Resolution Services also pulled their advertising, making the total nine. But that’s not all. Peter Gabriel discovered his song “Sledgehammer” was the song used during this tirade and demanded his music be removed from the show.

While Limbaugh did issue an apology to the law student by saying,

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

He goes on with a “but” by saying it’s not really his fault and blames it all on the left, the side where you “can’t expect morality and intellectual honesty” even as advertisers continued to pull their funding of his show.

Let’s set the politics aside (I know that’s hard to do here every time I write about something so politically-charged) and talk about the PR repercussions of all of this.

It doesn’t matter if it’s business, life, your marriage, or a friendship, when you say, “I’m sorry, but…” the apology is voided.

And that’s what Limbaugh did here. He said, “I’m sorry, but…”

There are many companies (Carnival, Susan G. Komen, Claire’s, Boners BBQ, Kenneth Cole, and more) who can take lessons from places such as FedEx who know how to say “I’m sorry.”

It turns out Limbaugh could use that same lesson in humility and true sorrow.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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