March 26, 2012 by Mike Landry
Question: The brouhaha over conservative talk radio star Rush Linbaugh’s incendiary remarks on contraception has intensified and more advertisers have withdrawn their support. Will this have a “cooling effect” on talk radio in general? Should conservatives be concerned?
Rush Limbaugh made a statement that he admits was over the top.
In the ongoing effort to do what Limbaugh calls “Hush Rush,” this was about as juicy as it gets. Limbaugh made what was termed a vicious, unwarranted attack on an innocent young woman, implying she was a prostitute for wanting funding of contraception, although his language was not so discreet. The resulting uproar caused some national advertisers to pull sponsorships. There were news reports that anywhere from two dozen to forty advertisers were bailing.
Unlike probably most of the people offended by the Limbaugh statement, I heard it live on the radio. I thought it was silly. I had earlier seen the televised testimony of the woman in question, Sandra Fluke. I thought what she said was silly, too.
Then Limbaugh apologized. As a more than two-decade listener to the Rush Limbaugh Show and being some- what familiar with the characteristics of its host, I thought the apology was sincere. True, it may have been motivated for business reasons, but it was not one of those fluffy non-apologies (“If I of- fended anyone…”). Instead Limbaugh said he had acted improperly and took full responsibility.
But the left can’t let this go. Because it’s not about offensive statements, Ms. Fluke and her concerns about contraception, or anything else. It’s about leftist ideas being unable to survive dissent or alternate opinions. Rush Limbaugh and others like him point out their bankruptcy every day. Whether through the old Fairness Doctrine, proposed community boards to censor
radio stations, or advertising boycotts, the ultimate effort is to shut down dissent.
Advertising cancellations will not stop Limbaugh. Best I can tell, six or eight of his national sponsors pulled out. Apparently two of them realized they made a mistake, and one, Select Comfort Bed, asked to be reinstated. Limbaugh refused. Also, Limbaugh says three more national sponsors are in the process of coming online.
Other relevant advertising facts:
— A small-businessman in Lenor City, Tenn., bought an ad on a Knoxville radio station to defend Limbaugh and free speech. So did a New York lawyer who put out some hefty money to appear on monster talk station WABC.
— Regarding the two dozen to 40 sponsors reported to have pulled advertising, Limbaugh explained that they are advertisers on local stations who have asked that their ads not run in Limbaugh’s time slot. Happens all the time, he said.
–Conservatives are notifying sponsors who bailed on Limbaugh that they will not patronize them. I suspect they will increase their patronage of his cur- rent sponsors.
Rush Limbaugh’s program pulls mega-ratings. It’s a major platform for advertisers (years ago, he made Snapple a national brand). Despite the cur- rent uproar, the show and conservative talk radio are doing just fine.
The only real career threat Limbaugh has faced was deafness and that was surgically rectified. Sad for Limbaugh’s critics, perhaps he is correct when he describes himself as “Your host for life.”