Rush Limbaugh Blames Women for Advertiser Boycott Success

This is at Salon this week:

Limbaugh, in case you’d forgotten, called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after the Georgetown University student spoke out in support of insurance mandates for contraceptives. He later apologized – profusely so – but the damage was done. People were fed up, and they took to the Internet and social media to send a message to Limbaugh’s advertisers that they won’t support any business that supports Limbaugh’s brand of radio rabble-rousing. Jittery over the response, advertisers began to bolt. Some never came back, including Geico, Sears, John Deere, Netflix, Capitol One and hundreds of others.

It has been 14 months since the controversy first began, and the boycott continues. Under the hashtag #StopRush, Twitter users signal out Rush-friendly businesses — Dairy Queen, the Home Depot, Golfsmith — telling them enough is enough, […]

And what is the result? The boycott is working. And Limbaugh is now blaming a very particular group of women for his advertising blues. Here’s Salon again:

One of the basic tenets of the free-market system is that the market participants choose what gets produced and from the looks of things, they’re not choosing Limbaugh. Not that Limbaugh himself sees it that way. On his radio show, he’s made it clear that he believes “media buyers at advertising agencies are young women fresh out of college, liberal feminists who hate conservatism.”

Oh, so that explains it. It’s a female-driven conspiracy. A castrating Sisterhood of media buyers is targeting him and other conservatives. They have burrowed into the American corporate structure, and he has become a victim of their nefarious shenanigans. Glub, glub, glub.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Rush Limbaugh Blames Women for Advertiser Boycott Success

  1. Welcome to the free market Rush. First it makes you a lot of money, so you can feed up your rear end to an enormous size. Then it bites you on that same rear end. Heh heh.

  2. Staffan says:

    It’s sad and ironic that in America, the land with the strongest protection for free speech in the world, people who claim to care for this right are so eager to bypass it in a way that goes against it’s intent. Free speech is there for people to exercise. For you, me, Limbaugh – everyone. The idea to shut people up because you don’t like what they are saying is so against the spirit of free speech. Once it becomes accepted, legislation limiting free speech is the next logical step. It’s just a cheaper and more efficient way of doing the same thing.

    • Alan says:

      This has nothing to do with free speech, it’s free market – Rush is being paid by advertisers to be crude and offensive. The movement is to pull free market support for those paying him to be offensive. Rushes’ speech is far from free – it is well paid.

      • Staffan says:

        The free market is merely the instrument, the objective is to shut him up, and that intention goes against the idea of free speech.

        And how does the fact that he is paid relate to his speech not being free? Is that a joke or are you trying to say something? It’s not funny enough to be a joke and not clear enough to be a thought.

      • Alan says:

        This is not a challenge to Rush, nor his right to speak. It is a challenge to broadcasters and advertisers. This is no different that celebrity endorsements – if the celebrity misbehaves, they are likely to lose their contract. The boycott is to encourage businesses to terminate their contracts with this misbehaving celebrity.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Staffan,

        America has 300 million people. Not everyone can have a radio show. I’d like to have a radio show, for example. Why should Limbaugh have so disproportionate a voice within American public discourse? And why should he laugh all the way to the bank on my dime via the corporations I buy things from? I can’t have a radio station to offset his voice, but I can spend my money where it is not being funneled to his voice. That’s not denying free speech, that’s counter expression (a form of free speech itself). If I were forced to pay for Limbaugh’s microphone, that would be a denial of my exercise of influence over public discourse–my ability to direct my dollars to corporations that might then support messages I favor.

        In a mass media environment, such as prevails in the 21st century, boycotting the sponsors of messages and the messengers I regard as repugnant is among the few tools I have, as a citizen, for influencing the direction of politics generally. Rush Limbaugh won’t take my call, but a sponsor might.

        In the name of free speech, am I not to make that call? Should I shut up? I don’t think so. Rush Limbaugh is not going to stop me from making that call or putting on a website a call for his sponsors to be boycotted. These are acts of free speech themselves. They are among the forms of expression available to one lacking a corporate sponsored radio microphone who nevertheless wants to effect the larger media environment on a large scale.

        I’m not afraid of Limbaugh’s inane speech, but a boycott of his sponsors is how to get the attention of radio station owners that there is a critical mass of listeners that wants different speech, more intelligent and informed speech, and a greater range of voices on the public airways.

        And just remember, any conservative billionaire could pony up, say, 100 million dollars to buy all of Rush Limbaugh’s ad time for the next couple of years on all the stations he is on, making the stations and Limbaugh happy and impervious to boycotts, and guaranteeing Limbaugh’s ongoing nationwide influence in the realm of public discourse. That billionaire could then run ads in the purchased times or not. He could even make Limbaugh utterly commercial free, leaving Limbaugh with still more time and latitude to say anything he wants.

        Why is that billionaire’s potential dollar any different from mine? One would be directed to promote the views of the billionaire via Limbaugh, while mine is being directed away from Limbaugh and toward views I might support. Absent being a billionaire or a nationally syndicated radio show host myself, this is the small thing I can do. If enough join me, mass discourse is influenced in a democratic manner. One dollar, one vote.

        –Santi

  3. Staffan says:

    “America has 300 million people. Not everyone can have a radio show. I’d like to have a radio show, for example. Why should Limbaugh have so disproportionate a voice within American public discourse? And why should he laugh all the way to the bank on my dime via the corporations I buy things from? I can’t have a radio station to offset his voice, but I can spend my money where it is not being funneled to his voice. That’s not denying free speech, that’s counter expression (a form of free speech itself). If I were forced to pay for Limbaugh’s microphone, that would be a denial of my exercise of influence over public discourse–my ability to direct my dollars to corporations that might then support messages I favor.”

    You don’t have to sponsor him, no one is saying that. What I’m saying is that a boycott is against the spirit of free speech, the idea that we should all be able to speak freely. It’s not a counter expression as you claim since they’re not actually saying anything except “shut up”.

    “In a mass media environment, such as prevails in the 21st century, boycotting the sponsors of messages and the messengers I regard as repugnant is among the few tools I have, as a citizen, for influencing the direction of politics generally. Rush Limbaugh won’t take my call, but a sponsor might.”

    Money talks, and that can be a problem, but is this the solution? The main focus should be on creating a climate where everyone can speak freely and every point of view can be heard. Is there a conservative media bias here that you feel the need to balance?

    “In the name of free speech, am I not to make that call? Should I shut up? I don’t think so. Rush Limbaugh is not going to stop me from making that call or putting on a website a call for his sponsors to be boycotted. These are acts of free speech themselves. They are among the forms of expression available to one lacking a corporate sponsored radio microphone who nevertheless wants to effect the larger media environment on a large scale.”

    No, don’t shut up, but also don’t shut others up. Tell people what you think, sponsor a radio show that does that. But just shutting someone up – that’s not cool. What do you hope to accomplish with that. To only hear people agreeing with you? A more conformistic society?

    “I’m not afraid of Limbaugh’s inane speech, but a boycott of his sponsors is how to get the attention of radio station owners that there is a critical mass of listeners that wants different speech, more intelligent and informed speech, and a greater range of voices on the public airways.”

    If you want different speech you can do that withouth shutting LImbaugh up. Live and let live – speak and let speak.

    “And just remember, any conservative billionaire could pony up, say, 100 million dollars to buy all of Rush Limbaugh’s ad time for the next couple of years on all the stations he is on, making the stations and Limbaugh happy and impervious to boycotts, and guaranteeing Limbaugh’s ongoing nationwide influence in the realm of public discourse. That billionaire could then run ads in the purchased times or not. He could even make Limbaugh utterly commercial free, leaving Limbaugh with still more time and latitude to say anything he wants.”

    Sure, but that’s still not a good defence of why people should be silenced.

    “Why is that billionaire’s potential dollar any different from mine? One would be directed to promote the views of the billionaire via Limbaugh, while mine is being directed away from Limbaugh and toward views I might support. Absent being a billionaire or a nationally syndicated radio show host myself, this is the small thing I can do. If enough join me, mass discourse is influenced in a democratic manner. One dollar, one vote.”

    Again, do you think there is a problem that the media are too conservative? According to a survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editior, some 60 percent of reporters are Democrats while 15 percents are Republican. But that minority is still bothering you. Are you aiming for zero percent, would that make you happy? If all spoke with one voice and the rest were silenced?

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      It’s not saying shut up, it’s saying, “I want my local radio station to put someone else in the drive-time time slot who is not anti-feminist, then I’ll listen more consistently.”

      Yes, there is conservative bias on radio in the United States. It will probably always be this way because conservatives listen to radio far more than liberals. And that’s fine because conservatives pay for it by buying the crap advertised for the shows (gold investments, security systems, etc.). But I don’t want MY money paying for these shows, so I’m saying to corporate sponsors, “Don’t put the dime I’m giving you to buy Limbaugh.” Those corporations can then put their advertising into media markets that support my views. The reality is that money talks, and liberals, like conservatives, should put their money where it will talk on their behalf.

      This isn’t hurting or narrowing opinion in the least because motivated liberals and conservatives, whether rich, middle class, or poor, function as markets for messages and will always do so. Conservative and liberal temperaments have a genetic component after all, and that means it’s not going away by social manipulation. But the collective course of the country can be nudged in one way as opposed to another by money. It’s why two billion dollars or more was spent on the last presidential campaign.

      Money, and who has it, is a reflection of culture. Liberal clout is growing.

      But you’re asking liberals to look the other way and ignore the degree to which our own money is complicit in magnifying Limbaugh’s ridiculous voice. Sorry, but I’m not going to lie down and play dead. Let conservatives pay for Limbaugh and let liberals pay for Chris Matthews (for example).

      If conservatives, for example, want to boycott, say, MSNBC advertisers, fine. Why should they pay for messages they don’t support?

      Opinion shows on radio and television will never go wanting for an audience to match with the right advertisers. Essentially then, this is about Limbaugh’s paycheck (how high or low a contract he can command based on how many stations he can be on). If liberals stop paying, maybe he’ll end up on Sirius satellite or with a more modest contract with a competing radio company, but he won’t go away. He won’t be shut up. He’ll just have a voice more in proportion to his actual fan base and not be thrust upon the rest of us as noise pollution.

      For example, whenever Limbaugh speaks about global warming or health issues he’s talking out of his ass. He has zero expertise. He has no experts on his show. Yet he can spend hours on such topics. Why should the handful of local radio markets dotted across the county make what he has to say about such matters important? Why are the public airways being used in this appallingly bad fashion? The market ought to function here, and boycott is the way for them to.

      If you divorce Limbaugh’s speech from the consequences of his advertising, then he makes more money and there is no feedback between him and the larger audience of Americans. Limbaugh monologues. He doesn’t interview opposing people, he doesn’t take questioning from callers beyond a certain point. He cuts off the occasional liberal he lets through his screening process if he thinks they’ve landed a punch. He’s in total control of his microphone. And so the chief feedback mechanism is boycott or purchase of the products advertised.

      He’s played king of the hill for a long time, and liberals are now in a position of financial clout and political organization to offer a retort to which attention must actually be paid. Those Limbaugh has made invisible for decades, calling feminists “feminazis” for example, are now wanting their voices heard and their dignity brought under their own control. That means we don’t have to pay for the microphone of those that bait us.

      –Santi

  4. Staffan says:

    “It’s not saying shut up, it’s saying, ‘I want my local radio station to put someone else in the drive-time time slot who is not anti-feminist, then I’ll listen more consistently.'”

    Wrong. The campaigne isn’t promoting anyone. It literally says “Stop Rush Limbaugh”. And how do you stop someone who talks? By shutting them up. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

    “Yes, there is conservative bias on radio in the United States. It will probably always be this way because conservatives listen to radio far more than liberals. And that’s fine because conservatives pay for it by buying the crap advertised for the shows (gold investments, security systems, etc.). But I don’t want MY money paying for these shows, so I’m saying to corporate sponsors, “Don’t put the dime I’m giving you to buy Limbaugh.” Those corporations can then put their advertising into media markets that support my views. The reality is that money talks, and liberals, like conservatives, should put their money where it will talk on their behalf.”

    So the media bias in radio is overshadowing the overall media bias? Sure you can do what you want with you money. But the very idea of free speech is to have a society where everyone can speak freely. You can spin this how much you like but there is no way in hell that campaigning to shut someone up is going to encourage people to speak freely. No one is going to open up if they know that they may be targeted for financial sanctions.

    “This isn’t hurting or narrowing opinion in the least because motivated liberals and conservatives, whether rich, middle class, or poor, function as markets for messages and will always do so. Conservative and liberal temperaments have a genetic component after all, and that means it’s not going away by social manipulation. But the collective course of the country can be nudged in one way as opposed to another by money. It’s why two billion dollars or more was spent on the last presidential campaign.”

    If that is so then why a campaign to stop someone who can’t be stopped?

    “Money, and who has it, is a reflection of culture. Liberal clout is growing.”

    Yes, and how well you use that clout to undermine your own ideology. How will you argue with people who would like legislation against free speech? They will simply point to this and similar campaignes to show that you are just a hypocrite.

    “But you’re asking liberals to look the other way and ignore the degree to which our own money is complicit in magnifying Limbaugh’s ridiculous voice. Sorry, but I’m not going to lie down and play dead. Let conservatives pay for Limbaugh and let liberals pay for Chris Matthews (for example).”

    If the campaigne was called “Don’t waste your money”, it would be a little different. As it’s called @StopRush, the intention is clear – it’s not about money.

    “If conservatives, for example, want to boycott, say, MSNBC advertisers, fine. Why should they pay for messages they don’t support?

    Opinion shows on radio and television will never go wanting for an audience to match with the right advertisers. Essentially then, this is about Limbaugh’s paycheck (how high or low a contract he can command based on how many stations he can be on). If liberals stop paying, maybe he’ll end up on Sirius satellite or with a more modest contract with a competing radio company, but he won’t go away. He won’t be shut up. He’ll just have a voice more in proportion to his actual fan base and not be thrust upon the rest of us as noise pollution.”

    This is again pretending the campaigne is about money. It’s called StopRush for a reason. It’s because the want to stop Rush, duh.

    “For example, whenever Limbaugh speaks about global warming or health issues he’s talking out of his ass. He has zero expertise. He has no experts on his show. Yet he can spend hours on such topics. Why should the handful of local radio markets dotted across the county make what he has to say about such matters important? Why are the public airways being used in this appallingly bad fashion? The market ought to function here, and boycott is the way for them to.”

    The overall media bias is clear, but those 15 percent Republican reporters are still annoying you? I asked you if zero percent would make you happy, but you never answered.

    “If you divorce Limbaugh’s speech from the consequences of his advertising, then he makes more money and there is no feedback between him and the larger audience of Americans. Limbaugh monologues. He doesn’t interview opposing people, he doesn’t take questioning from callers beyond a certain point. He cuts off the occasional liberal he lets through his screening process if he thinks they’ve landed a punch. He’s in total control of his microphone. And so the chief feedback mechanism is boycott or purchase of the products advertised.”

    “He’s played king of the hill for a long time, and liberals are now in a position of financial clout and political organization to offer a retort to which attention must actually be paid. Those Limbaugh has made invisible for decades, calling feminists “feminazis” for example, are now wanting their voices heard and their dignity brought under their own control. That means we don’t have to pay for the microphone of those that bait us.”

    This isn’t about whether he is any good or not. It’s about freedom of speech and what kind of society that right was implemented for in the first place. And have your retort, make you voices heard, I’m all for that – but the campaigne is still about stopping Limbaugh. It explicitly says so. (Also, one guy on the radio can’t make feminists invisible. That’s silly.)

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      You strike me as unusually confused here. If it were in fact about freedom of speech, then obviously this would be a matter for the courts because the First Amendment protects freedom of speech vigorously and would side with Limbaugh if his rights were being in the least infringed upon.

      What you want is speech without consequence, without the power of others to walk away or withdraw financial support from a microphone. It is like someone who posts anonymously on the Internet. They want consequence free participation in the public square. Limbaugh also wants his cake and to eat it too. He wants liberals to pay for his microphone, and we mean not to. Let the Koch brothers do it. Or the average Tea Party conservative who buys a security alarm system for their home after listening to an ad on his show do it.

      If Limbaugh can’t garner sufficient advertisers without liberals to have a show on as many stations as he does now, that means his market share and income will come down. That’s all it means. And it means that other voices, perhaps a woman or even some liberals will get a bit of the airtime that he once had all to himself.

      But just as the fact that I can’t get conservatives to pay for me to be on the air to a mass audience does not constitute a breach of my free speech, it is likewise the same with Limbaugh with regard to liberals.

      If you know the first scene of Sophocles’s Antigone in which Antigone talks with her sister Ismene, that’s what this is about. The sister wants a consequence free life, and looks for every way to avoid the consequences of her choices and speech, and Antigone recognizes that life entails existential decisions and does not shrink from making them.

      Liberals have given Limbaugh a gift. Every morning he wakes up calculating how far he should go in saying what he thinks because he doesn’t want the consequences of being completely true to himself. But there will come a morning, perhaps soon, when he will marshal the courage to say exactly what he thinks, without calculation, and on that day his voice will be freer (thanks to the liberals who drove him to an existential decision). It may also mean that he ends up on Sirius satellite network with a fraction of his current audience. But he will be free.

      –Santi

      • Staffan says:

        “You strike me as unusually confused here. If it were in fact about freedom of speech, then obviously this would be a matter for the courts because the First Amendment protects freedom of speech vigorously and would side with Limbaugh if his rights were being in the least infringed upon.”

        Well, you strike me as confused too since I’ve made the distinction between legal aspect and the spirit, idea of intent of free speech on several occasion during our discussion.

        From the first comment,

        “It’s sad and ironic that in America, the land with the strongest protection for free speech in the world, people who claim to care for this right are so eager to bypass it in a way that goes against it’s intent.”

        Second comment,

        “What I’m saying is that a boycott is against the spirit of free speech, the idea that we should all be able to speak freely.”

        Third comment and most previous comment,

        “But the very idea of free speech is to have a society where everyone can speak freely.”

        And yet your conclusion is that I’m talking about the judicial aspect of this affair.

        “What you want is speech without consequence, without the power of others to walk away or withdraw financial support from a microphone. It is like someone who posts anonymously on the Internet. They want consequence free participation in the public square.”

        No, what I want is a society where everyone feel that they can speak freely without losing their job over it.

        “If Limbaugh can’t garner sufficient advertisers without liberals to have a show on as many stations as he does now, that means his market share and income will come down. That’s all it means. And it means that other voices, perhaps a woman or even some liberals will get a bit of the airtime that he once had all to himself.”

        Because the overall bias in media is so against liberals? Like I mentioned before, 60 of all reporters are Democrats and 15 percent Republican. I asked you if zero percent Republicans would make you happy. You refuse to answer but this quote above is an answer of sorts I guess.

        “But just as the fact that I can’t get conservatives to pay for me to be on the air to a mass audience does not constitute a breach of my free speech, it is likewise the same with Limbaugh with regard to liberals.”

        This again under the false assumption that this was ever a discussion of legal technicalities.

        “If you know the first scene of Sophocles’s Antigone in which Antigone talks with her sister Ismene, that’s what this is about. The sister wants a consequence free life, and looks for every way to avoid the consequences of her choices and speech, and Antigone recognizes that life entails existential decisions and does not shrink from making them.”

        I’m not familiar with it, but the idea that actions have consequences seems to apply equally to both parties. I think what you’re missing here is that the boycott is a consequence based on hypocrisy – liberals pretending to care for free speech while shutting people up with financial pressure. Whose is the greater fault – Limbaugh for assuming that liberals would embrace the idea of free speech rather than bypassing the law or the liberals behind this campaigne for blatantly disregarding the idea of free speech?

        And what is the existential decision here? You are ok with this campaigne knowing it will make the liberal media bias even stronger in the future. What is the consequence of this sort of campaignes? Most people can’t afford to lose their jobs so they will have to shut up. 15 percent Republican reporters gradually approaching zero, and all over the voices on the internet will conform out of fear of sanctions (except those pesky anonymous people but I’m sure you can get them too, maybe Google can help you out).

        If this is what you want then at least have the balls to say so.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        It may be that we’re both being a bit purist here. In my ideal world, people would pay for their own speech and accept the consequences of their own speech, yet still speak as vocally. In your ideal world, people would pay for speech that repulses them. There’s a truth here that’s somewhere in the middle of these positions, but where to draw the line is the question.

        So here’s another way to think of it: Imagine a person stops driving cars. When you ask why, the person says, “I don’t want my money going to the spread of Wahhabi ideology throughout the world anymore. I’m not doing anything from this point forward that might remotely advance Saudi Arabia’s global influence.” You wouldn’t (presumably) then say to this person, “You are so anti-free speech! You just want to shut Muslims up!”

        Another example: You learn that the man who owns a regional chain of pizza places in your part of the world (15 stores, say) is also the chief money source behind a small racist publishing house that sells “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” on the Internet. You learn that the publishing house has sold 10,000 copies of this pamphlet worldwide over the past two or three years. You decide to not only stop frequenting his business, but to call attention to his financial role in bankrolling an antisemitic publishing house. You hold a sign outside one of his stores alerting other customers to what he’s been doing. You write a letter to the local paper. I don’t think I’d call you a hater of freedom of speech. Indeed, I’d say you were exercising your own by calling for a boycott of this man’s pizza restaurants. People can boycott him or not, but at least you are no longer complicitous.

        One more example. I live only about a three hours drive from Las Vegas, and should I go there any time over the next few years I will pointedly not stay at any hotel owned by Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino developer who wants a hard line with Iran and poured a ton of money toward electing Republicans in the last election cycle. I don’t want the United States pursuing policies that I think could mire us in another Middle East war, and so I don’t want my own money funneled through this man. This doesn’t make me an enemy of freedom of speech. It makes me not complicit in this man’s deeds for the sake of my own convenience.

        Likewise, Limbaugh for me is vile enough that I don’t want to support him and his doggerel financially. That means letting advertisers know that a dollar given to Limbaugh is a dollar lost from me.

        –Santi

  5. Staffan says:

    Well, it’s complicated ; )

    Your problem is that it’s unrealistic to assume that people will speak freely – and be heard – regardless of boycotts and other financial or social pressure. It also assumes that such campaignes will not become a slippery slope towards political violence, which has become very common in Europe. We recently had a incident here in Sweden where someone drove by the house of a politician from the anti-immigration party and opened fire into his livingroom window, (which is one reason why some people are anonyomous on the internet).

    My problem is that I of course wouldn’t want to sponsor Wahhabism or anti-semitism and not doing so is in effect the same thing as a boycott. I guess my idea is that a good society will give everyone the opportunity to speak and be heard. We can both argue that Limbaugh and the Wahhabists will be heard without us. But if for some reason they won’t, then I guess we, or at least I, would have to consider supporting them. (Although my ultimate goal for most Muslims is that they return to their home countries.)

    But, again, the @StopRush campaigne is all about intent for me. If it was called @Don’tFeedRush, I’d be more ok with it.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Well, I like the “don’t feed Rush” idea. That sounds better to me as well.

      And I would defend anyone’s right to speech from the platform they pay for themselves (or gets paid for by someone else).

      No employer, for example, should be able to fire an employee for expression outside of work, nor any government punish someone for expression. And I’d make it illegal for prospective employers to Google a person’s opinion writing before hiring. They should go by the resume, references listed, and interview process alone, allowing a person some control and “spin” over her or his introductory narrative.

      I think, in other words, that there are ways to protect the average person’s speech. But rich people shouldn’t expect others to pay indiscriminately for the spread of their ideologies. One of the ways that average people express approval or disapproval of the way the rich are driving things and messages is by their consumer choices.

      –Santi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s