Hill TV host Krystal Ball announced on her show Thursday that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh had “slut shamed” her by mischaracterizing provocative photos of her post-college.
According to a transcript of the Sept. 4 segment, Limbaugh brought up Ball’s name during a rant about how he suspects Democrats of blackmailing Republican members of Congress into retiring. He said that everyone has “embarrassments” in their past, and cited as an example a pseudo-scandal from Ball’s 2010 Democratic congressional run in Virginia.
Ball read an excerpt of Limbaugh’s comments on air.
“Remember the name Krystal Ball with a ‘K’? Some thought she was attractive. She was running for Congress, and she got elected, and some tweets came out,” she recited on Hill TV’s “Rising.” “She posed nude when she 14 or 15. She was outraged. ‘How dare you!'”
“I said, ‘What do you expect to happen? You put a picture of yourself nude on Facebook or MySpace or, you know, My Butt, whatever it is. Somebody’s gonna find that stuff.'”
Krystal Ball calls out Rush Limbaugh
Ball went on to fact-check Limbaugh. She noted that she had not in fact won the election, and that, in the photos Limbaugh was apparently referring to, she was neither unclothed nor 14 or 14 years old. Rather, the photos that emerged in 2010 show Ball posing provocatively with sex toys while wearing a Santa hat. She has said they were taken at a private party shortly after she graduated college.
Ball told Hill TV viewers: “So, I think in the Trump era, this was so minimal that it was party photos, that he felt the need to make this much more salacious in order to titillate his audience.”
She said she considered ignoring Limbaugh’s remarks, which her husband brought to her attention, but she ultimately decided to “correct the record.” She noted that Limbaugh reaches millions of listeners and said she felt a responsibility to speak out because of the “the platform that I have.”
“I don’t want to feel like he can just slime whoever he wants and get away with it, with no accountability,” she said.
Striking a feminist note, Ball also said she wanted to send a message to young women that even if they do have compromising photos in their past they can still be politicians.
“If I did have some naked photos from when I was 14 or 15 or whenever, who fricking care? It’s not your job to be the moral police or to shame me or any other young woman who is out there who may have nude photos that come out. If they want to run for office, if they want to be a political leader, they still can, and I wanted to make sure I was able to put that message out there.”
Ball’s cohost, Saagar Enjeti, then added some supportive commentary.
Calling Limbaugh’s words “so disgusting,” he said Ball would be “fully within your rights” to sue Limbaugh for libel and that her career success proves that “this crap is not going to fly.”
“Anybody on the right who wants to try and make this a thing, um, we can go outside after this,” he added.
Laughing at Enjeti’s attempt at brash masculinity, Ball said: “I mean look, slut shaming is an old tactic in American politics, in world politics. It’s used to say that women aren’t worthy of being anything other than sexual objects, and frankly it’s bulls—, and I didn’t want to let it slide without calling it out.”
“And you shouldn’t,” Enjeti said. “Thank you, Krystal. Thank you for being so brave here.”
Twitter inevitably weighs in
Ball later posted a clip of her commentary to Twitter, along with a thread rehashing her statement. In a cycle now familiar from #MeToo and “callout culture” in general, Ball’s tweets triggered further condemnation of Limbaugh and praise for Ball’s bravery.
“This is so gross,” tweeted liberal journalist Yashar Ali. “So glad you’re doing this Krystal and glad to see you have the support of @esaagar.”
This is so gross.
Earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh lied on his radio program and said that @krystalball posed for nude photos when she was 14 or 15.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 12, 2019
“This is incredible and important,” gushed “The Ellen Degeneres Show” executive producer Andy Lassner. “Good for you.”
— andy lassner (@andylassner) September 12, 2019
Feminist writer Molly Jong-Fast said: “Rush Limbaugh is and always has been a terrible misogynist.”
Rush Limbaugh is and always has been a terrible misogynist. https://t.co/pQx0GnBwds
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) September 12, 2019
Limbaugh did not immediately respond to Pluralist’s request for comment. He is not active on Twitter.