Phil Donahue: 'Don’t Shush Rush'

By Fred Lucas | March 23, 2012 | 10:00 AM EDT

( – Former liberal TV talk show host Phil Donahue defended conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh from government censorship, saying “don’t shush Rush.”

During an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, the topic turned to controversy over past comments made by Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher.

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“I think the system is working. The framers were right. Don’t shush Rush,” Donahue said. “The state should not shush Rush and the state should not shush me.”

“The fact that the sponsors have risen up, this is a fabulous demonstration of our democracy and the ability of our sponsors to make their own judgments about what’s good for their logo, their company, and their stockholders,” Donahue said. “Hooray for that. By the way, all this has happened without any type of state intervention. I love America. I’m proud to be an American.”

The controversy ensued after Limbaugh criticized birth control activist Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, after she testified to a House Democratic panel in favor of a federal regulation forcing employers to cover the cost of abortifacients, sterilization and contraception. Limbaugh later apologized for using the words “slut” and “prostitute” when talking about Fluke.

Donahue was a pioneer in the talk show format going back to the 1970s, with the Phil Donahue Show. The program lasted 26 years, going off the air in 1996. He consistently took the liberal stances on most issues, and campaigned for Green party candidate Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential race.