Tin-eared Rush is using a political term that should make all the GOP shudder: Hispandering.
We may have a new theory why the GOP lost the Hispanic vote: the only Hispanics voting Republican are those who don't mind being insulted by Rush.
Limbaugh has accepted big bucks to stealth-recruit for the ultra-right wing Heritage Action for America which, on election eve, declared war on President Obama.
He has flung gay slurs at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Obama.
Limbaugh has been accused by fellow Republicans of being the main reason the GOP lost the election. He has acknowledged and ridiculed that assertion while unveiling a biting parody of President Obama as Santa Claus bribing voters with gifts. In doing so, he also thumbed his nose at Republican Speaker Boehner, and aimed his accusation of embracing vote-bribery directly at Latinos.
Most recently Limbaugh has, menacingly and absurdly, predicted that liberals will riot over ObamaCare.
A growing number of moderate GOP advocates have seen enough, and are either criticizing Limbaugh directly, or are lamenting the conservative information bubble generated by the "conservative entertainment complex." Rush mocked the accusation by offering a "most dangerous man in America" T-shirt.
Is Rush Limbaugh killing the talk radio industry the same way he's damaged the Republican Party?
Rush is insulated — for now — from serious personal injury to his fortunes by a $400 million contract with his syndicator. But no piece of paper is much protection when your house is burning down. And talk radio appears to be headed directly for the incinerator. Now, one of the most significant questions concerning Rush Limbaugh is who will play the predominant role in his eventual downfall: moderate Republicans, Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, or the ever-growing advertising boycott championed by consumer-activists?
How it all began
Since the first week of March, the goal of the tens of thousands outraged over Rush Limbaugh's three day attack against Sandra Fluke has been to persuade advertisers on his show — only — to cease their advertising there, in hope of finally holding Limbaugh accountable for his hate speech. The social movement was soon to benefit from the intervention of a totally unexpected ally: Corporate America was as freaked about Rush as was the average citizen.
On March 9, 2012, a scheduling memo posted to an obscure Premiere Networks website came clattering into the week-long firestorm of protest like a bucket full of dynamite.
Talk Radio and the Entire Radio Industry Are Impacted
Ninety-eight major national corporations — having witnessed the brutal initial backlash against companies like ProFlowers and (prior to that company stepping courageously to the forefront of the protest), Carbonite — decided to get out in front of the firestorm. In an absolutely unprecedented move by the business community, ninety-eight corporations demanded to be insulated from all controversial talk radio. Perhaps surprisingly, the memo listed the (all conservative!) talk shows that "are deemed to be offensive or controversial".
The Premiere Networks memo was pulled down from the web within hours; apparently, Premiere didn't really want the public to know what was happening behind the scenes. But it was too late; the memo had been circulated via email, and others relied upon Google Cache to recover copies. Here is partial content of the memo, and reaction from Newsweek's The Daily Beast:
Rush Limbaugh made the right-wing talk-radio industry, and he just might break it.The following business day the ninety-eight national brands were joined by more than forty more. Less than a month later there was indication that the fallout from the advertising boycott had spread to radio stations with an all-music format.
Because now the fallout from the “slut” slurs against Sandra Fluke is extending to the entire political shock-jock genre.
Premiere Networks, which distributes Limbaugh as well as a host of other right-wing talkers, sent an email out to its affiliates early Friday listing 98 large corporations that have requested their ads appear only on “programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).”
This is big.
—John Avlon: Rush Limbaugh Scandal Proves Contagious for Talk-Radio Advertisers, March 10, 2012
The boycott spread to local advertisers. In May, Politico reported that Limbaugh had taken a ratings hit. A dramatic decrease in audience share seemed all but confirmed when a talk radio streaming website announced a drop in Limbaugh's audience from 18.4 percent in January, to 9.6 percent in September.
Radio network Cumulus announced millions in losses due to Rush. Then Dial Global reported similar losses, again as the apparent result of the advertiser boycott. Radio industry analyst Holland Cooke tweeted that Limbaugh was losing influence with voters, and wrote that Limbaugh was losing clout in the radio industry. Then perhaps the most devastating critique came from a talk by radio industry analyst Norm Pattiz, who stated that Limbaugh's legacy may be a talk radio industry that may never fully recover.
As if to add insult to injury, in September speakers at a National Association of Broadcasters panel advocated replacing Limbaugh specifically, and talk radio generally, with an all-news format.
Two months ago I wrote,
The advertisers who have dropped Rush have cost the radio networks millions, at least.
The radio networks have invested additional millions in a technological capability they never before contemplated, but now consider a necessity — shielding their own advertising customers from the controversial programming for which they themselves are responsible. Rates have fallen, prompting a characterization of the current state of the radio advertising revenue model as seven percent quicksand.
Now some believe the ad revenue situation is worse than "seven percent quicksand". Dave Gifford and Matt Sunshine are radio sales consultants. In a recent podcast, they discussed the state of radio sales.
Gifford says revenues are all over the place. He mentioned the Cumulus drop, but noted one client who hit target using PAC money from the election. He advocates that sales personnel "stop selling radio", and start selling advertising campaigns that include radio, but also newspapers, Yellow Pages, direct mail, and outdoor (billboards). Gifford knows one person who has "stopped selling radio".In the podcast they didn't focus specifically on talk radio, nor did they mention Limbaugh or the advertiser boycott.
Matt Sunshine agreed with the unevenness of the market. Some clusters (of radio stations) are doing "quite well while other clusters are suffering". Sunshine says everyone tries to emphasize new business. "But if you examine the numbers you see that there's a lot of attrition. The bucket is leaking severely from the bottom. I've seen in the markets that are strug... in stations that are struggling, their attrition rates are 40, even 50, and 55 percent of their businesses not coming back, in a specific month. And that's because folks need to get back to selling advertising solutions."
Moderator: "Do advertisers believe in radio any more? Do advertisers believe they're getting results from radio any more, Giff?"
Gifford: "Unnh, the, the record would seem to say no. I know the industry proclaims seven percent, that's a joke. That does not include unmeasured media, my God, direct mail kicks our butt. So I would say it's probably five percent, if anything... How else are we going to get a share of the market by just selling radio? It's impossible... [We need to create the opportunity] to go after non-radio advertisers. That's where the money is." [emphasis added]
It would be all too easy to blame Limbaugh for problems that already plagued the radio industry in general, and talk radio in particular. Apportioning cause and effect in what was already a down market may be a challenge for industry experts, nevermind someone looking in from the outside. There are multiple factors: the industry was already facing pressure from technological and demographic changes. Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Networks, is privately held, and therefore avoids scrutiny to the extent possible.
But we can all draw the conclusion that the advertiser boycott against Limbaugh has proved damaging, and Limbaugh has been somewhat marginalized within the industry because of it.
On November 8, Talkers Magazine produced an article entitled, Political Talkers Take Stock of Positioning in Post-Election Environment. The most prominent and controversial political talker, Rush Limbaugh, was mentioned by name only, and was not among the eight talk show hosts interviewed for the article. Limbaugh was once the brightest shining star in talk radio; now he is an embarrassment.
And the worst news for Limbaugh is, it all appears to be downhill from here.
The diarist is active in Flush Rush on Facebook:
|Rush Limbaugh's talk radio career is in a slow downward spiral in part because of the activism of consumers, volunteers, and activists who seek to hold Rush accountable for his hate speech. One very active group in this cause is Flush Rush on Facebook. Flush Rush and other, similar groups use the StopRush Database to inform advertisers about where their ads are appearing.
Please consider joining. Small donations are also accepted to fund data storage; visit StopRush for more information.