LDS Church-Owned Radio Station Stands By Rush Limbaugh

More than forty advertisers—from Allstate Insurance to Sears—and two radio stations have dumped Rush Limbaugh since he went on the offensive against Sandra Fluke, calling the Georgetown student a “slut” and “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage for contraceptive medications.

But not KTTH 770 AM in Seattle, Washington; a station owned and operated by Bonneville Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As protests mounted Monday, a KTTH spokesperson defended Limbaugh, using a boilerplate statement from his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks:

AM 770 The Truth is committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary. The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue. Radio can be and has been a great platform for a lively exchange of ideas as we seek to provide understanding. In this case, we wish Mr. Limbaugh would have been more civil in his treatment of the topic and his characterization of those involved, but we respect his right, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions.

Here are the Limbaugh “opinions” Bonneville-owned KTTH would defend, as voiced on-air February 29 and March 1:

“What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”

“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope.”

“She’s having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk.”

“Who bought your condoms in sixth grade?”

“So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

All of this in response to Ms. Fluke’s efforts to testify in support of employer-provided health care coverage that includes prescription birth control medicine used by millions of American women not only for contraception but also for cancer prevention and treatment of polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.

LDS Church-subsidiary Bonneville International owns 29 radio stations. It is one of seven religiously-owned or affiliated national radio networks, including the American Family Association network (165 stations), Bible Broadcasting Network (37 stations), Educational Media Association (290 stations), Family Stations (67 stations), Moody Bible Institute (36 stations), and the for-profit Christian broadcaster Salem Communications (97 stations—for-profit Christian broadcaster).

No other religiously-owned or affiliated radio network in the country airs Rush Limbaugh—except the LDS-owned Bonneville International.

In October 2010, LDS/Bonneville-owned KSL radio in Salt Lake City dumped political commentator Sean Hannity, a move some viewed as an effort to align programming with a recently adopted corporate mission and values statement including the following points:

“I honor principles espoused by our owner in the products and services I provide.”
“I promote integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people.”
“I seek to lift, inspire, and help others find enduring happiness.”
“I seek to instill light and knowledge in my work.”

How does Rush Limbaugh’s crass misogyny (and public humiliation of a civilian) honor the values of its owners?

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Joanna Brooks is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press / Simon & Schuster, 2012) and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches.