Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh was accused of “slut-shaming” after making a false claim in an anecdote about progressive pundit Krystal Ball, a former Democratic congressional candidate.
Ball, formerly an MSNBC contributor, blasted Limbaugh for claiming that she had posed for nude photos as a minor, and said that even if she had done so, it shouldn’t have made a difference for her congressional campaign.
Social media blackmail
During his Sept. 4 program, as part of a broader discussion on the number of Republicans retiring from Congress, Limbaugh theorized that some were potentially being blackmailed by Democrats and their allies into stepping down over old secrets and social media posts.
Almost in passing, Limbaugh briefly referenced Ball’s failed 2010 congressional run. “Remember the name Krystal Ball with a K?” Limbaugh said. “Some thought she was attractive. She was running for Congress, and she got elected, and some tweets came out.”
He went on: “She posed nude when she was 14 or 15. She was outraged. ‘How dare you!’ I said, ‘What do you expect to happen? You put a picture of yourself nude on Facebook or MySpace or, you know, My Butt, whatever it is. Somebody’s gonna find that stuff.’ I think some of that is going on, and it’s being used to … Dare I say the word ‘blackmail’? But threaten members.”
Ball calls out Limbaugh for “slut-shaming”
What really happened? Photos of Ball partying as a young adult in the mid-2000s were publicized during her 2010 campaign to represent Virginia’s 1st district, and she eventually lost the race to a Republican opponent.
When Ball found out about the reference from Limbaugh days later, she posted a four-tweet thread on Twitter along with a video clip of herself addressing the matter on her “Rising” program for The HillTV.
“So I have some sort of weird personal/public news,” Ball wrote. “The other day on his show, Rush Limbaugh went on at length about how I posed nude when I was 14 or 15 (I did not.) I’ve been thinking for a few days about how to deal with this. Partly I didn’t really want to call more attention.
“Maybe just ignore it and move on. But the reality is, his show has millions of listeners and the transcript is readily available online. I didn’t want this slut-shaming smear just hanging out there. I’m also lucky enough to have a platform to set the record straight,” she continued.
“But maybe the next person who gets smeared will not,” Ball wrote. “I didn’t want him to think he could just slime anyone with impunity. Most importantly though, if I did ‘pose nude’ at 14, so f****** what? Should women be barred from public service because they have bodies and sexuality?” She concluded by again accusing Limbaugh of “slut-shaming” her and denounced him for attempting to be the “morality police.”
Limbaugh acknowledges mistake
To his credit, Limbaugh acknowledged his mistake during his Sept. 12 program. “I honestly thought it was — ’cause I remember she got very upset that these pictures — she was very mad, and I remember, ‘Well, what do you expect? You know, you go on social media, you do whatever, somebody’s gonna find it and it’s gonna surface.’ It turns out they were party photos, whatever it was, she was upset about it,” he said.
“So we’ve cleared the record. It wasn’t a nude photo, it was party photos. But whatever it was, she was not happy about it, she felt her privacy had been invaded,” he added. “And my point was there isn’t any privacy on social media, particularly if you run for office, people are gonna dig into it.”