I was somewhat dubious that this sponsor boycott of Rush Limbaugh for his days of misogynistic comments against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke would be able to gain steam. But as of now, at least thirty-six advertisers have cancelled their ads for the show. Think Progress puts it at 39 advertisers. This includes large advertisers like Capital One.
Some of this is, to be honest, fuzzy math. For example, GEICO has not been an advertiser for Limbaugh’s program for many years. But they advertised on stations that, for whatever reason, inadvertently played spots of theirs inside Limbaugh’s show at one time or another. They promised this wouldn’t happen again. That’s not really an advertiser dropping Limbaugh. But it does have value, maybe even more value than a regular advertiser dropping out.
Because now, Netflix will hound radio stations to make sure their ads are kept out of Limbaugh shows, and they will drop the entire station if that fails. This becomes a major hassle for radio stations. I don’t know that business quite as well as TV, but as I understand it there are local avails for advertising, just like local spots for broadcast television. And the station’s advertisers get placed in those local avails on a generally ad hoc basis. Now somebody has to think to keep a growing list of advertisers out of those local spots in the three-hour Rush block. It’s dangerous for them. And it’s what will lead a station to decide it’s no longer worth running Rush, especially if he starts losing ratings strength.
Brent Bozell, the president and founder of the conservative Media Research Center, has launched a website in support of Rush Limbaugh in the wake of fallout over his attack on Sandra Fluke, because, as Bozell says, “this isn’t about what Rush said last week, it’s about roaring hypocrisy and it’s about censorship.”
“Make no mistake about it — there is a concerted effort under way to remove Rush Limbaugh from the airwaves. To remove all conservative voices from the airwaves. And the liberal media are putting all of their weight behind it,” Bozell says.
The site also asks supporters to sign a petition pledging their support to Limbaugh:
“I stand with Rush Limbaugh and appreciate the massive contribution that he has made to the conservative movement and our nation over the last 25 years. Rush has apologized. But the radical left will never accept it because they despise him and want him off the air. I condemn attempts by radical left-wing organizations and the media to censor Rush and his commonsense conservative message.”
There are no metrics on the site to judge how successful this has been, but considering that the advertisers keep dropping, there hasn’t exactly been a backlash yet.