Or at least the "98 large corporations pull ads from Rush Limbaugh, all right-wing shock jocks" interpretation offered by the current front-page story does not appear to be warranted.
Greg Sargent, the talkingpointsmemo.com alumnus who runs the "Plum Line" blog at the Washington Post, passes along an e-mail message from a spokesperson from Premiere Radio Networks. She confirms the accuracy of the memo discussed in the front-page story, but says:
This is a routine communication that notifies our affiliates’ traffic managers of advertisers that prefer not to be in ANY potentially controversial programs. It is prepared and disseminated on a quarterly basis.If this is correct, there's a good chance that many or most of the sponsors on the list have been there for quite a while. A lot of companies simply shy away from any sort of controversy as much as they can, so Limbaugh's latest atrocity wouldn't have made any difference for them.
What would be interesting to see is how much bigger this list is than last quarter's list was; some portion of the difference might plausibly be attributable to Limbaugh's smearing of Sandra Fluke. Of the sponsors that are new to the list, it would be useful to know how many of them have actually advertised on Limbaugh's show in the recent past--those are the ones that are actually hitting him and Premiere in the pocketbook. If a sponsor is new to the list but never actually bought time on Limbaugh anyway, that doesn't really affect his bottom line.
The guy's down to PSAs and ads for gold coins anyway. There's no need to muddy the waters by misrepresenting the number of sponsors he's lost.