The Sandra Fluke "Co-Ed" Conspiracy

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 15 2012 10:24 AM

The Sandra Fluke "Co-Ed" Conspiracy

This was how Sandra Fluke described herself when she testified before a special -- and let's be honest, media-centric -- hearing on birth control funding.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

My name is Sandra Fluke, and I’m a third-year student at Georgetown Law School. I’m also a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ.
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Now, this was how Rush Limbaugh described Fluke in the broadcast that kicked off weeks of advertiser protests.

What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her?

Spot the difference. Fluke said she was a law student. Limbaugh said she was a "college co-ed." These aren't interchangeable terms. Calling someone a "co-ed" implies that he/she's an undergrad -- certainly, he/she couldn't be a past president of a law school club.

While Limbaugh was digging in on Fluke -- he only apologized the following Saturday -- quadrants of the conservative blogosphere were getting his back. An early "scoop" came from Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft's news blog, and the site that first revealed the 9/11 Truth petition that got Van Jones fired.

Georgetown “Coed” Sandra Fluke Is a 30 Year-Old Women’s Rights Activist

Fluke had never pretended to be a current co-ed. The evidence for the claim is that Fluke, in other interviews, had described some decisions made when she was younger. Seriously. That's the evidence. In her testimony -- which the tenor of anti-Flukism suggests the critics haven't read -- she spent most of her time talking about a lesbian student who used birth control to manage ovarian cysts. The idea that Fluke misrepresented herself as a doe-eyed co-ed living a hardscrabble existence was totally invented by Limbaugh, who basically just riffed off the news clips that had irritated him. (He does this sometimes.)

This takes us to Gateway Pundit's latest Fluke story: An expose of Facebook photos she took when she and her boyfriend vacationed a year ago. "Poor Sandra Fluke... She Wants You To Pay For Her $9/Month Birth Control As She Frolics in Spain & Pompeii."

Sorry, no, not actually what she's been campaigning for. When Democrats opted for Fluke, and not Barry Lynn, as their sole pro-birth control panelist, they must have realized that a female voice would do more for the testimony. But did they realize how Fluke-obsessives would start embarrassing themselves For the Cause?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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