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Joseph Goebbels once said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."  And right wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh is trying his damnedest to prove that true.  

El Rushbo has carved his career out of self-aggrandizing hyperbole.  Three hours a day, five days a week, Limbaugh boasts like some sort of rich, white West Palm Beach rapper.

With talent on loan from God

Half my brain tied behind my back just to make it fair

Meeting and surpassing all audience expectations on a daily basis

Documented to be always right 99.7% of the time

Saying more in five seconds than most hosts say in an entire year.

In addition to bragging about his mad skillz, since 1993 Rush Limbaugh has claimed to have 20 million listeners.  That massive number has served to give him legitimacy in the eyes of many, including GOP leaders.

But where did that astounding number come from?  Actually, it originated with Limbaugh's "chief of staff" Kit Carson and has been breathlessly repeated ever since without a shred of evidence.

When asked for a legitimate measure of The Rush Limbaugh Show's audience size in 2012, Arbitron spokesperson Kim Myers said:

"Unfortunately, we don't have show specific data for network programs. The syndicators, Premiere Radio Networks, are the only ones that have the station clearances. Without that, we can't figure out the show ratings data."
And Premiere ain't talking.

Talk radio industry insider Michael Harrison says Limbaugh has 15 million listeners.  But when asked to explain how he arrived at the number, he responded

They are only our thumbnail estimates based upon our contacts in the field, tracking of Arbitron estimates and understanding of the business. We make no claims as to "scientific" accuracy... [T]hey are not "ratings" per se.

Translation?  These numbers have been pulled from the arse of a Clear Channel executive in order to create the illusion that everyone in your neighborhood listens to Rush Limbaugh, so you should too.

Even if Limbaugh's wildly inflated estimate of his own popularity were true, that number represents what is referred to in the radio industry as the "cumulative," which means it represents the number of people who tune into a radio program at any point in the week, even for just a few minutes.

The industry practice for determining the actual audience size at any given moment is to take 10% of the cumulative, which would put Lil Hornswaggler's listeners at 2 million--and remember the 20 million starting point was a crock of creamed crap anyway.

Despite the fact that Limbaugh is pretending to be way more popular than he really is (it's a banana in his pocket--he's not glad to see you), he does have a lot of fans.  There are, unfortunately, quite a few people who are eager to listen to a man who reinforces their racism, misogyny, homophobia, and disdain for the poor.  

But there are nowhere near as many as El Rushbo would have you believe.

Not convinced that Rush Limbaugh is exaggerating his importance?  Not long after Flush Rush launched its campaign to remove Limbaugh's advertisers, the social media luddite set up a Rush Babes Facebook page.  Activists monitoring the page soon noticed Limbaugh was extremely popular among women in New Delhi, India.  Turns out El Rushbo was buying "likes" in an effort to make himself seem more popular.  Earlier this year, the small LA station Limbaugh was just demoted to was busted doing exactly the same thing.

Not long after Limbaugh's attack on Sandra Fluke hastened his inevitable demise, Young Turks host Cenk Uygur offered a "Mitt Romney-like" $10,000 to Limbaugh if he would simply provide evidence that he has 20 million listeners.

Uygur concluded  

Rush's audience is a myth. He is a paper tiger. Do some people listen to him? Of course. Is it anywhere near the hype? Not remotely. Talk radio is a dying business. I wouldn't be surprised if his daily listeners didn't even reach a million...Rush is a sad, old man that a couple of other sad, old men listen to. His days are numbered. Rush, it definitely wasn't nice knowing you. Tick tock, tick tock.

We reached out to a very well known radio personality to ask his opinion about Rush Limbaugh's fabled 20 million listener mark.

He spoke on condition of anonymity:

Decent folks who believe in tolerance and equality are no longer powerless against Rush Limbaugh's efforts to spread intolerance on the radio.  StopRush is making a major impact by convincing advertisers on this show to withdraw their ads--and with your help we can do even more.  Just a few emails, tweets, or Facebook messages a week to Limbaugh's advertisers can go a long way toward making hatred less profitable.  It is our collective voice that makes us strong.  

Want to do something hold Limbaugh accountable?  
Join StopRush!  We can use your help in the following ways:

Join:  The Flush Rush Facebook community
Visit:  The StopRush sponsor database
Tweet:  #stoprush Twitter campaign
Fact Check:  Limbaugh Lie Debunking Site
Install: ThinkContext StopRush browser extension--notifies you as you browse which companies advertise on Rush

Originally posted to ProgLegs on Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 01:37 PM PDT.

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