The White House has responded to a petition asking the Federal government to eliminate Rush Limbaugh from the lineup of radio programs available on the American Forces Network for overseas troops.
“Thank you for your interest in American Forces Network (AFN) programming . . . ” the statement begins, but: “AFN does not censor content, and we believe it is important that service members have access to a variety of viewpoints,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Bryan G. Whitman says.
Whitman was answering a missive endorsed by 29,189 signers on the government’s “We the People” site. The protest followed Limbaugh’s infamous “slut” comment, directed at a law-student trying to testify before Congress regarding the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Here’s the substance of the petition:
It is not bad enough that [Limbaugh] provides partisan blather, that he demeans our President.
He has regularly demeaned women.
His remarks this week were well beyond the pale of what should be broadcast to our military and their families, supported with our tax dollars.
We have a moral objection to our tax dollars being used for such a purpose.
You should move immediately to cancel any further broadcast through government facilities of his venom.
There is no excuse for the US Government, in any capacity, giving this man an audience.
To which Whitman countered:
AFN is charged with providing current information and entertainment programming to our Department of Defense audiences overseas, similar to what they could see and hear via the media in the United States. AFN acquires top-rated radio programs, as measured by audience ratings in the United States, and delivers them via satellite to our soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen stationed worldwide in 177 countries. AFN does not advertise on, provide any funding for, offer products for sale, or sponsor any of the programs (including the Rush Limbaugh Show) it relays to its audiences.
“I had high hopes that someone within the military chain of command would see sense,” she wrote. “I had even higher hopes that civilians within the Obama Administration would see that this is not a case of ‘fair and balanced’ representation of the political point of view. . . . Honestly, I could care less which talk show hosts they want to place on our airways as long as those hosts are not misogynists, racists, or make common use of hate speech.”