Bill Somerby raises an excellent question which he then fails to answer:
For the past twenty years, we have been an inept and feckless non-movement, permitting El Rushbo prosper. Suddenly, though, the outrage is general, in response to Limbaugh’s ridiculous comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. Question: Why is this the place where we’ve taken our stand? Why all the outrage now?Understanding why Limbaugh is staggering after the Fluke outburst but not his previous attacks is important. Limbaugh is certainly one of the most dishonest and bigoted pundits on the air today but not the only one. And Limbaugh's radio kindgom is only a shadow of Murdoch's evil empire. Limbaugh plays Saruman to Murdoch's Sauron, Jabba the Hutt to his Palpatine.
But Somerby is completely wrong when he says liberals have allowed Rush to prosper unchallenged. If he doesn't get so much attention now its because Beck and O'Reilly have left him in their shadow. But back in his '90s heyday, Al Franken wrote Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, an entire book setting out his lies chapter and verse. And Franken wasn't the only person doing this.
Meanwhile the right is trying to start their Outrage-2000 that used to work so well but has become unreliable in recent years asking why isn't the left outraged at the nasty things Maher said about Palin? Well I can't say for sure but maybe they remember all the nasty hateful things that Palin has said about other people and don't think she deserves any sympathy (i.e., she doesn't have clean hands in this fight).
It isn't just Palin. Previous complaints about Limbaugh attacking liberal politicians didn't garner much sympathy or pressure from advertisers. Pelosi and Palin are both (correctly) seen by the public, and advertisers, as combatants.
Sandra Fluke, however, is not a politician, she is not even a journalist -- she entered this battle with clean hands. Limbaugh's attack was repeated, crude and left no room to doubt or excuse his motives. Rep. Issa had prevented Fluke from testifying in his congressional hearing on women's health (the witnesses were all men), and Limbaugh was determined to finish Issa's work by bullying Fluke off the public stage.
The fact that Fluke had been speaking on an issue of specific importance for women, and that the Republican party had been desperate to exclude women from the debate, made Limbaugh's strategy all the more transparent. The sight of a corpulent slug, with a history of drug abuse, calling a young law student from a good school "a prostitute" for simply sharing her story with Congress, was finally more than the public could bear.