After conservatives decried the left’s obvious double standard when it comes to incivility toward women (where was the president’s phone call to the conservative women who’ve been on the receiving end of far worse taunts and insults than those suffered by Sandra Fluke?), repeat rhetorical offender Keith Olbermann sought on last night’s Countdown to justify liberal hypocrisy. The thrust of his argument: It’s not misogyny when liberal men make cracks against conservative women!
For those who he knew wouldn’t buy that argument, though, he also offered something else — an apology to two women he’s insulted in the past. The attacks in question? In October 2009, Olbermann called Hot Air founder Michelle Malkin, “a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Then, in April of last year, Olbermann tweeted about conservative commentator S.E. Cupp, “On so many levels she’s a perfect demonstration of the necessity of the work Planned Parenthood does.”
While Olbermann continued to insist that his now-notorious comments contained not the slightest hint of misogyny, he did admit they were “mean” and said he was sorry for saying them.
Cupp and Malkin didn’t accept.
Malkin pointed out the superficial circumstances under which Olbermann uttered his apology: “No @mediaite, @KeithOlbermann never apologized to ME. He apologized to a CAMERA to make his crap go away.”
I suppose the same could be said of Rush Limbaugh: He never apologized directly to Sandra Fluke (she says she wouldn’t have wanted him to, though) and liberals argue that he, too, made the apology to “make his crap go away” (namely, to stop his supposed “exodus” of advertisers, which didn’t actually occur in the manner in which the MSM touts it).
But Cupp and Malkin still haven’t received a phone call from the president — and that’s no small difference between them and Sandra Fluke. Olbermann, Limbaugh and show hosts like them will continue to make as many provocative comments as they can get away with (good for ratings!) — and apologize for whatever they can’t. But the president’s politicization of a spat that didn’t concern him was what was so new and obnoxious about the entire Limbaugh/Fluke affair. If his excuse is that Fluke is a private citizen, that’s pretty lame: She’s a seasoned activist who, by testifying before Congress, consented to be made the center of any controversy her testimony might spark. Besides, as Jonah Goldberg first pointed out, he never showed such concern for the besmirching of Joe the Plumber.
Furthermore, the president said his interest in reassuring and encouraging Fluke was to encourage young women to speak out. As a woman much younger than Fluke, I can’t say I find it the least bit reassuring or encouraging to speak out when I observe the insults routinely hurled at women who share my ideology and/or receive such insults myself. Either the president wants everyone to feel free to speak their minds — in which case he would call Cupp, Malkin or at least one such conservative woman whom liberals have attempted to silence to make that point — or he just wants liberal women to feel free to speak their minds. I think we all know which it is.