Giving Limbaugh the Bum’s Rush

The straw that finally broke the camel’s back was not the worst thing that Rush Limbaugh ever said. The man who coined the term ‘feminazi’ and seemed to have a personal grudge against Hillary Clinton had certainly called women worse things than sluts and prostitutes. But last week when Rush looked at Sandra Fluke, a young woman testifying before Congress about the importance of birth control and called her a slut—then hammered on it for several days—both women and men stood up and said “enough.” The limp statement of appeasement his office issued just fanned the flames.

Rush Limbaugh has been one of the key designers of the conservative message, a message that has become increasingly bullying, inflaming, xenophobic, and misogynistic.  People have already aped his current attack.  It doesn’t take a genius to draw a line from the misogyny of Limbaugh and others to a Congressional panel on women’s health with no women.

That all-male panel was already a sore spot. When Rush attacked a woman—a college student—who was there to make women’s voices heard, he became the focal point of built-up anger.  By attacking and smearing Sandra Fluke, he was not just picking on one young woman, he was sending a message that this is what women should expect when they stand up for themselves and participate in the political process. Was this also deliberately calculated to distract people? Very likely; he uses this tactic often, but this time, he probably didn’t realize what he was unleashing on himself.

Following the success of the campaign that got Glenn Beck off of television, people have been spreading the word through social media to let Rush’s advertisers know that associating with Limbaugh will not be good for business—and we have been heard. People are still working on the official list of advertisers, particularly the local advertisers in various markets, but so far over 50 advertisers have pulled their business. Carbonite’s CEO David Friend issued a particularly eloquent statement:

“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady.  Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency.  Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”

Only a handful of advertisers intended to directly sponsor Rush Limbaugh. The rest are “inadvertent” advertisers: companies who bought large blocks of advertising to be spread across different time slots at a radio station or chain of radio stations. This is common and allows companies to get more ad time for their money while stations have ads for all time slots. That is why so many companies were caught by surprise when they were publicly called out for sponsoring Rush: They didn’t think of themselves as sponsoring anyone. Of course to listeners, an ad is an ad regardless of intent.

An “inadvertent” advertiser may claim to be hostage to a block scheduling contract, but the block schedule is meant to make sure stations have ads at off-peak times, not to force advertisers into prime daytime slots.  No station ad manager with any sense is going to force a company to sponsor a program during peak listening hours if it doesn’t want to. Thus, until Rush is aired at 2am, there is no reason a company can’t “quarantine” Rush from its advertising. GEICO has done this since 2004, though apparently its directions were not followed since spots did appear during the show.

ProFlowers Tax Resolution, and AOL have said they will suspend advertising—not the same as committing to drop sponsorship but a step in the right direction.

In every market in which Rush is broadcast, national ads are supplemented by local ads. Thus, there are still a lot of inadvertent advertisers out there who don’t know they are sponsoring Rush Limbaugh. The list of local advertisers who are dropping Rush is growing as the ads are publicized.

Rush has also lost at least two radio stations and two musical artists, the Canadian band Rush and Peter Gabriel, whose music was played during the show without their consent.

Of those sponsors remaining at this hour (the tally changes frequently) ones worth noting are LifeLock, which uses Rush as a spokes man and issued a statement of solidarity, and the Newt-based SuperPac Winning Our Future.

Follow the progress of the campaign against Rush:

Crowdsourced list of advertisers heard on Rush’s show in a variety of markets and their status re sponsoring him

Media Matters list of advertisers

Boycott Rush

Sign the petition to get Rush off Armed Forces Radio

Twitter hashtag: #stoprush

Remember, too, that Glenn Beck wasn’t taken off the air because he lost his advertisers. His show went on for months after it stopped being profitable. He only lost his show when his audience started dropping. Why? He wasn’t there to make ad money; he was there to deliver propaganda. Likewise, Rush is not primarily a money machine (though he has become rich by peddling hate), he is a propaganda machine, and a very skilled one.  As important as it is to get him off the public airwaves, this is only one more battle in a longer war.

15 Replies to “Giving Limbaugh the Bum’s Rush”

  1. It may not be a good idea to draw too much attention to Rush; if people start to listen to him to hear for themselves the “awful” things he says, they may find it’s all a big bunch of hysteria and hyperbole.
    As for Flukes’ appearance at the hearing, when your trying to decide a constitutional question (“Does the 1st Ammendment prohibit religious institutions from being forced to pay for contraceptives?”) you don’t bring on someone to talk about their feelings and give a sad story. A female constitutional lawyer would’ve filled the need for a woman on the panel better.

  2. Under 18USC§§ 2387 and 2388, there is no way his seditious crap should even be heard by the Armed Forces, let alone broadcast to them at government expense. Furthermore, what he said repeatedly about this young woman is libel per se, without proof of damages, but damage there is: Pamela Geller and her retinue have been shrieking that she should be sexually mutilated for her “sluttishness” and her (somehow) Islamishness (no remote basis in fact for that), and someone out there may just be crazed enough to try that, “corrective” rape, murder, or all the foregoing. This young woman must now live her life in fear because of the repeated and unwarrented obloquy visited on her for daring to testify to her elected representatives.

    The White House site is difficult to use. If you live in Florida, Senator Bill Nelson is circulating a similar petition.

  3. I just heard on “All Things Considered” a chat with a guy who covers the “Talk-Radio” industry. He said that if Talk-Radio was Rock’n’Roll, Rush is Elvis (and,NO,not because of the drugs; because he’s the biggest in the biz). Said Rush should be able to handle a few advertisers leaving, and that his audience has INCREASED. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Just ignore him.

  4. and why is barfbaugh still on armed forces radio, who controls it? defense dept?

    glad to see your blog back….

  5. “…was not the worst thing that Rush Limbaugh ever said.”
    That’s been my point. This greed driven slug has been attacking patriotic Americans, villainizing good, decent people, making malicious and dishonest comments OK and fueling political division in this my country for nearly three decades. He’s all about greed and a cancer to our society long enough. I DO hope this is the straw which broke the lying, greedy, hatemongering poison’s back.

  6. Actually,the Elvis analogy works better than I thought. You should hear yourselves; you sound like those old fogies in the ’50s who sputtered in rage at Elvis for his “awful influence”,his “terrible example”, how he was a “danger to our society”, and should be “taken off the airwaves!”.

  7. Actually, it wasn’t the “Old Fogies”, it was the churches (especially those addicted to controlling their people) that ranted about Elvis… never mind that he was a Christian himself and much of what he did was an imitation of the Assemblies of God preachers he saw as a kid. I remember the rants – and the lies the preachers told afterward about him.

    BTW… I used to listen to Limbaugh. His characterization of minorities was offensive at the least. He was a consummate liar, and I realized after getting sick of the things he said about my own people several times, that (1) he was wrong on nearly everything, (2) he was a rabid racist bigot, and (3) he was also a monopolist and shill for big business.

    Only a few other Right-Wing nutcases have come close to his low… and they finally ended up paying for it. I hope Rush is gone before long and doesn’t show on the radar again… if he had any common sense or grace, he’d retire.

  8. Actually, Mr. Pain, what Limbaugh is doing is considerably less entertaining than wagging his behind, he can’t sing, and if he ever tried them, separately or together, the effort to laugh and vomit at the same time might prove deadly to spectators.

  9. A Walkway- Good point about the “Old Fogies” who feared Elvis,but it seems now it’s the secular who want to control the Church.(I’m no fan of religion;only of the constitutional restriction of government power)
    And as for Rush’s “characterization of minorities”, I wonder if you see his comments through a racial fog. That is, if he criticizes a Black Liberal, you see it only as Rush criticizing a Black person.
    A “shill for Big Business”? What’s wrong with Big Business? Even Obama was crowing how he saved General Motors. I listen to Rush when N.P.R. has a boring segment(so I listen to Rush a lot)and the Rushophobia is really just a distraction from real problems.

    And Reynardine:”he can’t sing, and if he ever tried them, separately or together, the effort to laugh and vomit at the same time might prove deadly to spectators.”
    Again, that’s MEAN and FUNNY!

  10. ” A “shill for Big Business”? What’s wrong with Big Business? ”

    Decades ago, a company called Underwriters Laboratories wrote reviews of products, and there was a big scandal when it was discovered that they would deliver a positive review of any product for enough cash. Why was this a scandal? UL didn’t break any laws by accepting payment. They didn’t threaten to smear a product unless a company paid up, ie extortion. They never said they were impartial. So what was the issue?

    The issue was that everyone believed they were impartial. Companies were willing to pay for The UL Seal of Approval because it meant more business; consumers believed that it represented a standard of quality. Had consumers known the truth, the seal of approval would not have held this value.

    Journalists, even one like Rush Limbaugh, can be opinionated, even biased. They can be overt spokesmen for products (though some think this is over the line too), but they can’t be secret shills and still call themselves journalists. They are in violation of what it means to be a journalist and have moved into the advertorial arena.

    I used to agree with you that someone like Rush or Glenn Beck was just a venting blowhard that should be ignored. But we have seen the nation follow the rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh into dangerous places, places with no facts and no shame. We have seen Rush make things up on the fly that then become ginned up conservative talking points for weeks. We have seen him bully people far beyond the bounds of civil disagreement.

    And we have seen people ape what he says and the way that he says it. Rush is the father of O’Reilly, Beck, Hannity, and anyone else who claims to be the sole keeper of The Truth. He has paved the way for every hate broadcaster on the radio and everyone who has decided that peace and equality are overrated.

    The ideal conditions for business are the opposite of the ideal conditions for human quality of life. As a shill for business, he has encouraged the worst, most destructive impulses, desires, and temptations of man, all while claiming to be something he was not–a supporter of this nation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.