HolyCoast: Limbaugh Boycott Effort Comes to a Sputtering End

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Limbaugh Boycott Effort Comes to a Sputtering End

Way back when the Limbaugh "slut" scandal and Media Matters boycott effort first got started I made a prediction that there were 15-20 million reasons why this whole thing would fail:  The Rush audience.  Although Media Matters tried to control the narrative, insisting there were dozens and dozens of advertisers joining their boycott, Limbaugh's ad breaks were still full of sponsors and I knew this wasn't working out the way they had hoped.

Media Matters is still trying to put the best face on it, but this boycott has failed miserably as reported by the Washington Post:
The dark clouds hanging over Rush Limbaugh appear to be lifting.

Exactly one month after the conservative radio host sparked outrage by calling Georgetown law-school student Sandra Fluke"a slut" and "a prostitute" in a three-day diatribe, stations are standing by him, advertisers are trickling back to his program and the news media have moved on.

Liberal groups that organized petitions and boycotts against Limbaugh say that they intend to keep up the pressure and that they've had a lasting impact on the most popular radio host in America.

"The objective has been to show that there are real consequences when someone like Mr. Limbaugh or his company shows no accountability for his actions," says Angelo Carusone, who has been leading the anti-Limbaugh efforts for Media Matters for America, a Washington organization. "That is continuing."

At the same time, however, Carusone acknowledged that outrage is hard to sustain. "I think certainly the pressure has been reduced," he said. "To a certain extent, that's okay and acceptable. . . . Obviously, the intensity is gone, but the engagement remains high."

On Monday, the 600 or so radio stations that air Limbaugh's program were told by his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, to resume running "barter" ads during his program. Stations are required to run these ads in exchange for paying discounted fees to Premiere to air Limbaugh's show. Premiere, which is owned by radio giant Clear Channel Communications, had suspended the "barter" requirement for two weeks in a move widely seen as a way to give advertisers a chance to lie low while Limbaugh was in the news.

Limbaugh has apologized for some of his statements about Fluke, whom he attacked after she spoke last month in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraception at an event sponsored by congressional Democrats.

Limbaugh's advertising losses may have been less than media accounts suggested. While more than 100 advertisers told Premiere that they didn't want to be associated with "controversial" radio programs of any kind in the wake of the flap, some of these companies weren't regular Limbaugh sponsors in the first place.

Carusone said most of the advertiser exodus over the past month appeared to be among companies whose ads aired only in regional or local markets, he said. "Fewer than five" nationwide sponsors of the program actually pulled out, he said.
Five. Or less. And two or three of those tried to come back, one of which, Sleep Train, was refused by Rush.  Media Matters is a non-profit and supposed to exist to point out bias in conservative media, but they regularly engage in partisan political attacks.  Their tax exempt status could use a good review.

Don Surber adds this analysis from the story:
Buried in the story:

Expectations that a weakened Limbaugh could be bumped by a new program hosted by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) have also not materialized. None of Limbaugh’s many affiliates have said they’ll move him from his midday time slot in favor of Huckabee.

Among the stations sticking with Limbaugh is WMAL AM-FM in Washington, one of several big-city Limbaugh stations owned by Cumulus Media. Cumulus is syndicating Huckabee’s program, yet the company isn’t moving Limbaugh aside for its own program on its stations.
Huckabee and his people thought they could capitalize on this, but Huckabee forgets one important thing: He's not Rush. If my local station replaced Rush with Huckabee I'd never tune in again, and I'm sure the sentiment is the same pretty much nationwide.

The lesson for Media Matters and the left: Don't poke the bear or your might get eaten.

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