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How the Sandra Fluke Story Unfolded

Before last week, the name Sandra Fluke had only entered the discussion in a column by TIME humorist Joel Stein, before her testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday, Feb. 23

MSNBC covered the testimony that Thursday morning, including talking to Sandra Fluke. They reported on it throughout the day. The following Tuesday, Megyn Kelly reported the story on Fox News: “It hasn’t seen a lot of media coverage so far,” said Kelly, “but there was a congressional hearing late last week that’s now getting some attention.” The next day, on his radio show it got a lot more attention courtesy of Rush Limbaugh. On his radio show, he called Fluke “a slut” and “a prostitute.”

The following day, on MSNBC’s “Ed Show” Ed Schultz , had the first interview with Fluke reacting to Limbaugh’s comments. (Schultz, you’ll recall, served a suspension for calling Laura Ingraham a slut, twice, on his radio show last May.) On Friday, Fluke was interviewed by Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, and returned to MSNBC, on Andrea Mitchell‘s show. Just before her interview with Mitchell, Fluke had taken a call of support from Pres. Obama.

By then Limbaugh doubled, then tripled down, for the next two days talking about the amount of sex Fluke must be having. By Saturday, he’d apologized. But by then, the Fluke story was factoring into the GOP primary and it certainly would come up on the Sunday morning public affairs shows.

Chris Wallace talked about it with Rick Santorum on “Fox News Sunday.” Bob Schieffer asked his guest, Ron Paul, about it on “Face The Nation.” And David Gregory on “Meet the Press” and George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” brought up the issue during interviews with Newt Gingrich.

Stephanopoulos asked Gingrich, “Do you worry that Limbaugh helped reinforce that democratic message?

Gingrich shot back, with a familiar refrain: “No. I worry that the elite media is so desperate to describe this accurately… I’m amazed that there aren’t more voices in the elite media in favor of religious liberty in America.”

Because the media loves controversy and because Rush Limbaugh is a polarizing figure, and because the issue of contraception is again a part of the national conversation — including the GOP primary — don’t expect the TV networks to move on from this story just yet. Fluke isn’t finished talking either. She’s going on “The View” today.

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