This is the greatest crisis in Rush Limbaugh's entire career. He has always been controversial and offensive, but never before have his hand-picked advertisers abandoned him en masse, as nine of these companies have now done.
Today, Limbaugh claimed that he had “no ulterior motive” for his fake apology for his 53 smears, that it was “pure, simple, heartfelt.” Of course, nobody believes that. This is all about the money. Limbaugh has observed, “I always say my real purpose is to attract the largest audience I can, and hold it for as long as I can, so I can charge confiscatory advertising rates.” When his advertising revenue is threatened, Limbaugh will be moved to make a fake apology.
Amazingly, today Limbaugh blamed left-wingers for causing him to insult Sandra Fluke: “I acted too much like the leftists who despise me.” Limbaugh claimed, “In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them....I descended to their level....I became like the people we oppose” Do leftists describe their ideological opponents as “sluts” and “prostitutes” and accuse them of having “too much sex”?
Limbaugh claimed that he used “inappropriate words in a way I never do.” Never? The man who repeatedly has called Hillary Clinton and other women “B-I-itch” actually had the audacity to complain today, “The word 'bitch' is common.” It is if you're Rush Limbaugh, who once publicly called Friends of the Earth international climate campaigner Catherine Pearce a "B-I-itch" after watching her criticize President Bush's State of the Union proposals on CNN. Every woman is just one ideological disagreement with Limbaugh away from being condemned as “ugly,” “ditz,” “bitch,” or “feminazi.” It's how he views all women, except those who prove their devotion to him by being docile, conservative housewives admired as subservient sex objects.
Limbaugh once declared about Anita Hill, “My guess is she's had plenty of spankings, if you catch my meaning.” Accusing liberal women of being whores is the typical tactic of Rush Limbaugh; it's not something he learned from the left.
Limbaugh's fake apology was all about the advertisers he's losing. Limbaugh declared in the early 1990s, “A turning point in my career came when I realized that the sole purpose for all of us in radio is to sell advertising.” Rush recalled, “I realized out there that if I was ultimately going to succeed I had to get myself actively involved in the revenue stream of the radio station.” Limbaugh understood that he could have control over his program “if you had your hand on a certain amount of the revenue stream.”
From the start of his talk show, he has been obsessed with his advertisers. Early in his radio career in Sacramento, Limbaugh tried to demand that he decide what advertisers would be allowed on his show. He understood from the start that his advertisers would determine the fate of his career. For Limbaugh, selling products was “ratings insurance.” Rush meets personally several times a year with all of his advertisers who hire him to voice their ads, precisely in order to avoid what happened this week.
One study found that Limbaugh actually had a bigger audience during the commercial breaks than during his show itself. Rush's listeners are so devoted to him that they pay more attention to his commercials than to his ideas. And Limbaugh has merged advertising into his show content so completely that his listeners barely distinguish between the two.
In the 1990s, Limbaugh lost advertising for Florida orange juice after the National Organization for Women, the National Education Association, the NAACP, and other groups led a boycott of the product. In 2003, Radio Shack and Amtrak dropped their advertising, claiming that they avoid political shows and only advertised due to a mistake. Boycotts normally can't affect him because many of his advertisers are not major retailers, but mid-sized online businesses that rely on Limbaugh loyalists for a substantial part of their business.
That's why Limbaugh was so shocked by having nine advertisers abandon him, and why his fake apology was necessary. Today, Limbaugh effectively called for his listeners to boycott the advertisers who abandoned him: “They've decided that they don't want you or your business anymore.” That's an attempt to threaten his remaining advertisers, lest they consider following the nine companies who have already suspended advertising on his program.
For Limbaugh, who worships “confiscatory advertising rates” and the $55 million a year he makes, the loss of his advertisers is the greatest threat that he's ever faced. He's been hit in the wallet, which is the only sensitive part he has.
Crossposted at DailyKos.