Conservative talk radio powerhouse Rush Limbaugh continues to bleed advertisers following his verbal attack on law student Sandra Fluke, whom Limbaugh called a "slut" and a "prostitute" for advocating mandated workplace insurance coverage of contraceptives. Think Progress reports that 43 advertisers have pulled their spots from The Rush Limbaugh Show over the last week. (See a helpful timeline of the controversy here.) Two radio stations, one in Massachusetts and another in Hawaii, have pulled Rush's show from their schedules altogether. Limbaugh, who has apologized for his choice of words, insists that he's not worried about the exodus. Is his confidence justified?
Advertisers will be back: Here's a prediction that "does not really require psychic powers," says Brian Dunning at Skeptoid: Within a month or two, Limbaugh's advertisers will return. They only yanked their ads so they'd be "seen in a positive light" during the scandal, but once the commotion dies down, they'll come crawling back. "The Rush Limbaugh Show is, by a strong margin, the #1 radio show in the country. Advertisers do not let a property like that go to waste. They'll be back after everyone's forgotten this week's offense."
"Psychic prediction: Rush Limbaugh's advertisers will be back"
Not so fast. This boycott might stick: Ad boycotts do tend to fizzle, says Jorge Rivas at Color Lines. But not always. Just ask Lou Dobbs, who got dumped by CNN after a relentless protest against his anti-immigrant screeds. Getting advertisers to abandon an offensive broadcaster conclusively can work when "a vigilant campaign... continues to hold advertisers accountable" so they feel they can never go back and buy new ads.
"Rush Limbaugh's lost 20 advertisers — but experts expect they'll be back"
Limbaugh can ride this out regardless: "Life will go on; Rush will continue," Michael Harrison, publisher of talk-radio trade magazine Talkers, tells Talking Points Memo. His show has 20 million weekly listeners. "It's one of the, if not the most, successful talk shows in America." With numbers like Limbaugh has, his show "could survive for a long time without advertisers" if need be.
"As advertisers continue to flee, can Rush Limbaugh weather the storm?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- This is how the U.S. thinks China could invade Taiwan
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
- Can we lead spiritually fulfilling lives without religion?
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Surviving a plane crash
- Stop freaking out over the West's jihadi tourists
Subscribe to the Week