Joan Walsh: Sandra Fluke ‘Became a Hero Because She Was Vilified by Rush Limbaugh’

Salon editor has high standards for heroism

Salon editor Joan Walsh called birth control activist Sandra Fluke "a hero" Thursday night on Hardball, drawing a derisive response from former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele.

Her reasoning: she "was vilified by Rush Limbaugh" and "spoke truth to power."

"Spare me," Steele replied.

Fluke, an advocate of mandating health insurance plans cover birth control, was at the center of a media firestorm in 2012 when Limbaugh called her a "slut" and "prostitute," in what's become one of the most frequently played clips in MSNBC history.

Fluke came up in the context of debating the furor over remarks former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee made Thursday about the party not tolerating Democrats' frequent attacks that Republicans wage a "war on women," and saying Democrats view women as being victims of their own gender and unable to "control their libido" without government help.

Steele argued Fluke was used as a "sledgehammer" by liberals to distract from more important issues.

"All [Huckabee's] saying is we're not going to fall for that anymore," Steele said. "There are bigger and more important arguments that women want us to have about the economy, about jobs, their families, communities, raising kids, educating those kids, than talking about the pill or their libidos."

"Sandra Fluke became a hero because she spoke truth to power–" Walsh said before Steele cut in, saying, "Sandra Fluke is no hero."

"She became a hero because she was vilified by Rush Limbaugh, who called her a prostitute," Walsh said.

Walsh certainly has some lofty standards for what constitutes a hero. Host Chris Matthews ended the discussion there.