With one of Hollywood’s heavyweight lawyers on his side, the widely syndicated radio host claims the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee defamed him and took his words out of context when it said that he “is advocating a tolerance of rape” on his show. Having hired Patricia Glaser, Rush Limbaugh told the DCCC in a November 6 letter from her firm that he will sue unless he gets an “immediate retraction and public apology” for a midterms petition sent out to supporters in which the group “knowingly and intentionally mischaracterized” remarks he made in September.
Even with Glaser stressing that misleading context is grounds for defamation and demanding that all communication and files related to “the matters address herein,” Democrats are calling it all bluster.
“While Rush Limbaugh is an expert in outrageous, inaccurate and defamatory speech, this attack on the DCCC is as outlandish as his original statement about women,” spokeswoman Emily Bittner said today. “The DCCC has not received any correspondence from Mr. Limbaugh or his attorney. If they actually send such a letter, rather than a press release, we will review it and respond accordingly.”
While Democrats and Limbaugh never seem at a loss to cross each other, this potential litigation comes from what the host said September 15 on The Rush Limbaugh Show, which is distributed by Clear Channel’s Premiere Networks. “Consent must be freely given, can be withdrawn at any time, and the absence of ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes,’” Limbaugh told his millions of listeners. “How many of you guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it? Let me tell you something. In this modern world, that is simply not tolerated.” Two days later, in the heart of the midterm campaigns, the DCCC sent out an e-mail saying: “We knew we had to take action after Limbaugh’s reprehensible rant excusing rape on college campuses. In case you missed it, Limbaugh actually said, ‘No means yes, if you know how to spot it.’ “
And, with the backlash over Limbaugh’s 2012 comments that law student and activist Sandra Fluke was a “slut” in the background, that’s what has the host and his lawyer in a litigating mood — especially when it comes to advertisers.
“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (“DCCC”) — comprised of elected public officials who should know better — has intentionally disseminated demonstrably false statements concerning Rush Limbaugh in a concerted effort to harm Mr. Limbaugh, and with reckless disregard for the resulting impact to small businesses across America that choose to advertise on his radio program,” the attorney from Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro said in her stern, seven-page letter. “The DCCC’ s statements remain in the public domain, and continue to be disseminated, the DCCC’s obvious goal is to induce businesses to cancel, or decline to enter into, business agreements with Mr. Limbaugh’ s radio show, based on the DCCC’ s defamatory and false charges. … Mr. Limbaugh has authorized this firm to promptly commence litigation against the DCCC if it refuses to retract its defamatory statements.”
While Glaser says Limbaugh still could sue even if the DCCC does what he wants, “that said, a retraction and apology will mitigate against a subsequent lawsuit.”
Looks like the Democrats are going to have to make the next move – or not.