Back in February 2009, Rush Limbaugh bemoaned that he was suffering from a gender gap and wondered why only 37 percent of women viewed him favorably. When four ladies answered his request to call his radio show and provide answers, he dismissed their earnest advice with self-serving derision.
There are ample reasons why this man who lacks progeny but projects misogyny cannot connect with women. For years he has derided equality in the work force as “part of a feminazi grand plan” to eliminate male competition. His pronouncements of female inferiority have been a constant companion to his anti-liberal rhetoric.
Personal insults and name-calling are Limbaugh staples. Lies are his creed. Advertising dollars have been his sustenance. Yet, his reign at the top of the right-wing mountain may have started to unravel, thanks to his diatribe against Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who testified recently before a Congressional panel. Limbaugh’s outrageous assault against her is consistent with his decades-long rant against women generally, but it’s probably his worst.
Sandra Fluke’s informative statement focused on the use of contraceptive medication for women’s health, not birth control. She talked about its application in combating endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and their accompanying increased risks of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Her complete statement can be found at tinyurl.com/7oa2sj8. Yet Limbaugh’s warped mind callously made it about sex.
The sudden exodus of so many of his national advertisers during the past two weeks is due not just to his use of the words “slut” and “prostitute” to describe her, a person whom he neither knows nor whose cause he understands. His three-day vicious and disgusting tirade against her also included this: “She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the tax payers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? The pimps.” Reeking with near-vulgarity, his warped attempt at humor had him demanding to view videotapes of the sex that he claimed she was having so much of. Ah, the GOP’s G-O-P – the grand old pervert!
The image of this top-rated media coward’s ongoing assault on an innocent young citizen has stimulated considerable revulsion in talk radio land. First came a trickle of national advertisers walking from their sponsorship. Last week Tony Driskill, general manager of local station KOWL, said that only nine national sponsors had walked from Limbaugh. Media Matters confirms that the number has grown to more than 51; Politico reports it’s 100. The trickle is becoming a hemorrhage.
In the last few days Premiere Radio Networks, the Clear Channel Communications subsidiary that syndicates the Limbaugh show, acknowledged that it has a list of 98 national advertisers who have asked that their commercials not be carried on any controversial shows, including Limbaugh’s. Last Friday, Premiere notified their news/talk affiliates that they were instituting a two-week suspension of their requirement to run national advertising barter spots, the arrangements that provide the Limbaugh show to local stations in return for their running the national advertisements.
While there have been some calls over the years for this polarizing figure’s removal, the dynamics have clearly changed in the wake of his attack on Sandra Fluke. A Bloomberg poll released on Wednesday reported that 53 percent of respondents, including 30 percent of Republicans, thought that Limbaugh should be fired. That may be too tall an order, at least for now, but the loss of advertising dollars could severely dent his now-tarnished image of invincibility.
The CEO of a southern California precious metals company which has pulled advertising from Limbaugh’s show told the press that the show “no longer fell in line with our core values as a company … the attacks on Sandra Fluke were unwarranted and, we believe, intentionally inflammatory” and that he personally did not believe that “any company should support the type of slanderous, defaming attacks that came from Limbaugh.”
Another national advertiser, ProFlowers, which suspended sponsoring the show, stated “Mr. Limbaugh’s recent comments went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company.”
The motivation which causes national advertisers to drop Limbaugh ought to impress local sponsors as well. Vendors who sign up to advertise on KOWL have the choice of choosing or not choosing to have their commercials aired during a specific program. A local company whose commercials run during the Limbaugh show carries the appearance of support for this bully and that it is sponsoring his irreverent misogynistic harangues. If the advertiser does not want his/her name associated with the Limbaugh anti-woman crusade, it’s free to request that disassociation from KOWL.
Limbaugh will continue to do battle. While his image has been tarnished, he just may not be gone in a rush.
– Michael Zucker is a resident of South Lake Tahoe and a stockbroker with Regal Securities Inc.