Rush Boycott Fizzles
A campaign to drive advertisers away from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show has largely fallen flat, with few real sponsors leaving the program and affiliates standing behind the beloved conservative icon.
In the one month that has passed since Limbaugh blasted birth control advocate Sandra Fluke a “slut” on his show, left-wing advocacy group Media Matters admits that fewer than five national sponsors have left the program.
Prior reports of dozens of sponsors fleeing The Rush Limbaugh Show consisted mostly of local sponsors who had already ended their advertising contracts. A list of 100 companies that told parent syndicator Premiere that they did not want to be associated with controversial programming never had ads on the show in the first place, reports the Washington Post.
“Contrary to the wishful thinking of the professional special interest groups, reports of sponsors fleeing the ‘Rush Limbaugh Show’ are grossly exaggerated,” said Rachel Nelson, spokeswoman for Premiere. “In fact, the program retains virtually of all its long-term sponsors who continue to have great success” with the show.
Other reports that affiliates broadcasting Rush’s show would drop him in favor of the “safer” Mike Huckabee never materialized, either. Only two small stations in western Massachusetts and Hawaii dropped the program, despite a concentrated effort by MoveOn.org to oust Limbaugh from the several hundred radio stations his program airs on.
“The temperature of this controversy has finally fallen below the boiling point,” said Tom Taylor, news editor of Radio-Info.com, which covers the industry. “I think the advertiser base is coming back,” Taylor added.
Limbaugh got his first public endorsement this week from Clear Channel’s chief executive, Robert Pittman, who had remained silent about his star host as the Fluke controversy raged. In an interview with the Associated Press, Pittman called Limbaugh “the king” of radio and said outrage over his comments was “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio.” The controversy, he added, has not had a major financial impact on his company.
Still, Angelo Carusone, who has been leading the anti-Limbaugh efforts for Media Matters, claims a moral victory in the battle.
“The objective has been to show that there are real consequences when someone like Mr. Limbaugh or his company shows no accountability for his actions,” Carusone said. “That is continuing.”