What you are seeing now apparently is a)spin control at work, b)the “marketplace” at work. We earlier ran this post about conservative talk show titan (and some say de facto strategist and polemical riff creator for today’s Republican Party) Rush Limbaugh threatening to leave Cumulus Media because he’s irked over how the CEO has blamed him for the company’s big ad loss revenues. Now Mediaite reports that it has confirmed that national advertisers are refusing to air ads during Limbaugh’s show:
The company’s CEO has blamed ad revenue losses on the conservative talkers’ controversial 2012 “slut” comments about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke.
Mediaite’s own sources confirm that the ad troubles in connection with Limbaugh’s show are, indeed, severe. In fact, one source within the radio advertising world with direct knowledge of the ad buys on Limbaugh’s show confirms the extent of the problem: “The vast majority of national advertisers now refuse to air their ads during Rush Limbaugh’s show,” our source tells us.
This does fit in with other earlier reports, the website notes:
The next earnings call for Cumulus is tomorrow and Dickey will undoubtedly be asked by Wall Street analysts how Limbaugh’s performing on the 40 Cumulus stations that carry the show. Despite Limbaugh’s immense value, Dickey has previously claimed that Cumulus’s top three stations had lost $5.5 million as a result of the anti-Limbaugh backlash. A while back, ThinkProgress obtained a memo showing the 96 national companies that had reportedly asked Cumulus to not broadcast their commercials during the Limbaugh program.
So we learn from this that — if it’s true (and there does seem to be a progression in reports) — the formal boycott of Limbaugh’s show, plus the reaction of some previous advertisers with genuine digust at Limbaugh’s Fluke comments, have changed “the marketplace.” And if you read the original TMV post with the links and quotes, unnamed sources close to the show (which could be someone associated with it or even Limbaugh because the description is vague enough) go on the attack after Dickey for not doing a better job on sales. That’s par for the course in conservative politics and media: when criticized go on the offensive against he or she or the site that has criticized you.
Why is the story worth covering? Because starting with President George H. W. Bush Limbaugh has gone from being a highly entertaining and funny conservative talker who skewered everyone and even blasted a Republican in the White House to being a often serious talker who not just rallies the Republican faithful, but expresses views that are often absorbed by them. Limbaugh (unlike some conservative talkers) is a skilled broadcaster and political entertainer — but his hyper-partisanship and ideological purity has set the tone for the Repubican Party. How many independents, centrists and moderates have met people who do nothing but repeat Limbaugh’s phrases and attitudes? If he says the party is on the wrong course, expect for the party to re-adjust eventually to his course.
So advertisers keeping a distance has some significance — that some kind of change may be in the offing. Limbaugh will survive, but his style of radio may not be as popular for younger conservative talkers (who want to get big advertisers).