Late last week, the liberal website Media Matters posted a list of 51 sponsors who have purportedly withdrawn their advertising from Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated radio show because of his remarks about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. But a new memo from Clear Channel's Premier Networks, which distributes Limbaugh's show, suggests that those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Premier is reportedly informing its stations that 98 major advertisers — including carmakers, insurance companies, and fast-food chains — want off not just Limbaugh's show but also those of other "offensive or controversial" talkers like Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity. Is it possible that Limbaugh's latest intemperate rant will "kill" the right-wing talk radio genre he helped pioneer?
Rush contagion could prove lethal: Premier's "bombshell announcement" signals a real threat to "the entire political shock-jock genre," says John Avlon in The Daily Beast. Right-wing talk radio has been losing young listeners and women for years, already troubling sponsors; now that Limbaugh's alienated the coveted demographic of women age 24-55, you've got the "perfect storm." As Rush knows, radio is a business, and "when big money starts shifting, it is a sign of a deeper tide" turning.
"Rush Limbaugh scandal proves contagious for talk-radio advertisers"
Limbaugh & Co. will be just fine: "Here’s what matters: How many listeners start to pull out," Michael Harrison, of trade magazine Talkers, tells The Nation. If anything, this controversy has probably just increased Limbaugh's audience, making ads on his show "worth more than ever." It's not likely we'll see "nobody advertising on the No. 1 show in the business," is it? Besides, if sponsors do "gang up on Limbaugh" and chase him off to satellite radio, it will hurt all terrestrial radio, not just right-wing talkers.
"What the Limbaugh ad boycott could mean for Rush"
The ad boycott isn't just ineffective, it's misguided: The bigger problem with advertisers jumping ship is, as lefty boycott victim Bill Maher said on Friday, "I would rather put up with Rush Limbaugh and live in a country where we all do have freedom of speech," says Doug Mataconis in Outside the Beltway. If people want to silence Limbaugh's microphone, don't persuade the advertisers to pull out, persuade his audience that he's wrong. "That's what a battle of ideas is all about."
"They're making me defend Rush Limbaugh"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- 10 things you need to know today: December 18, 2014
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- The liberation of Barack Obama
Subscribe to the Week