Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Has Herr Rush Lardbaugh Finally Overreached?

For the first few days since the scandal broke, I wasn't inclined to post about it for one simple reason. Herr Lardbaugh has pulled these kinds of stunts before, and after initial firestorms has consistently gotten away with them.

This time, it looks like he may not. Or might he? As of the latest count, five sponsors have withdrawn sponsorship, and two others have "suspended" ads on Herr Lardbaugh's radio show. The Christian Science Monitor identifies them:

Departing sponsors include LegalZoom, ProFlowers, Citrix, Sleep Number beds, and Carbonite. Others, including AOL and Tax Resolution Services, have “suspended” their advertising on the show. Sears, AutoZone and Allstate have all said they do not sponsor Mr. Limbaugh’s show and advertisements for the companies that appeared on the program were placed there by mistake.

The Monitor has a succinct passage about the controversy, just in case you the reader don't have the particulars:

Limbaugh got the controversy started last Wednesday when he impugned Georgetown University’s Sandra Fluke on the air, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she appeared before a congressional committee arguing that her school’s health coverage should include birth control. Limbaugh later in the week insisted that the public should have access to video of her sexual encounters in exchange for the alleged funding of her birth control.

The comments struck many as extraordinarily crass, even for Limbaugh, who frequently makes derisive ad hominem attacks against those he disagrees with. A boycott movement quickly took root, spreading across online communities on sites like Reddit and Facebook, and the strong reaction against Limbaugh inspired seven sponsors to pull ads.

Some in the business think that Clear Channel will quickly pick up new advertisers as long as Herr Lardbaugh remains a bankable media figure. But this time seems a bit more serious than past incidents. Herr Lardbaugh said at first that he was only trying to be funny, and he's apologized to Ms. Fluke twice. But his apologies don't seem to be having any effect, as the controversy rages on days later.

It's not that ad hominem attacks are so shocking and awful. I'm doing that to Herr Lardbaugh right now, by making fun of his name and his usual girth.

But what Herr Lardbaugh did this time was quite unfunny, and went well beyond the boundaries of reasonable attempts at politically partisan humor. I've gotten in trouble in the past doing things as crass as making fun of genocide victims, but even I wouldn't subject a person as loathsome as Herr Lardbaugh to these kinds of attacks.

This time, it looks like he may not get away with it. His show will probably continue, but it's looking a lot like the description in the speech that Walter Matthau's character gives to Andy Griffith's "Lonesome Rhodes" near the end of the 1957 movie A Face in the Crowd. It's never going to be quite the same.

It's happened to a few other media figures before. Dr. Laura Schlessinger was riding high for years, until she finally said a few things that were just too stupid. And, how much of a career has Don Imus had in recent years?

It's true that Herr Lardbaugh's listening audience far eclipses those of either the I-Man or Dr. Laura. But he's human, and he's been skating by through shit storms like this for many years. This time, he may finally be taken down.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Jack Jodell said...

Limbaugh can just die for all I care. He is a totally insensitive, callous, self-centered egomaniac whose latent insecurity is obvious. The rotten bastard is taking in good food, air, and water that other decent human beings could use, so he should just die.

Anonymous said...

Just an update on your numbers: Media Matters now reports that 50 advertisers have now canceled their ads on Rush's show. In fact, virtually all the ads on his show now appear to be public service announcement type "ads" such as from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ad Council.

Motivated In Ohio said...

Half of the population are women, and his comments about Ms. Fluke were particularly vile. People will not forget.

He didn't even understand her testimony, she was testifying about poly-cystic ovary disease, and other ailments, that women need birth control for.

John Myste said...


Half of the population are women, and his comments about Ms. Fluke were particularly vile. People will not forget.

Mr. Limbaugh is a misogynist and always has been. It is part of his marketing persona. In the long run, this will do nothing to harm him.