Not surprisingly, the American news media have begun to move on from the outcry over Rush Limbaugh and the crumbling of his radio empire in the wake of the radio host’s Sandra Fluke comments.
Chalk it up to subsequent breaking news, such as the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, nudging the right-wing radio commentator off the front pages of newspapers and websites in the past month. Or is it that, almost a month after Limbaugh’s March 5th apology to Fluke, things are turning out differently than many on the left had hoped and imagined?[more]
Even the Washington Post — no friend of Limbaugh or his views — has allowed as how “the dark clouds hanging over Rush Limbaugh appear to be lifting.” And Howard Kurtz of the Daily Beast reached a similar conclusion over the weekend.
It appears that Limbaugh is regaining his bearings on the Clear Channel network just in time to try to ward off potentially serious competition by upstart Mike Huckabee, the Fox TV host and former Arkansas governor, in a Cumulus Media talk show that begins next Monday.
“Exactly one month after the conservative radio host sparked outrage by callilng [Sandra] Fluke ‘a slut’ and ‘a prostitute’ in a three-day diatribe, stations are standing by him, advertisers are trickling back to his program and the news media have moved on,” reported WaPo‘s Paul Farhi of the 24-hour news cycle.
Limbaugh gave his own take on his mini-comeback on his show on Monday, in addition to gloating over Keith Olbermann’s ouster from Current, after also making some comments Thursday. Today, he said that seven new national advertisers had arisen to take the loss of “less than five that abandoned us.” One of those advertisers, marketing services MSCO, today told Fox News he compared the Limbaugh advertising boycott to being the victim of “terrorism.”
On Thursday, Limbaugh claimed that the individual ratings of the 600 U.S. stations that carry his three-hour weekday-afternoon program have risen by 10 percent to as much as 60 percent each in the almost exactly one month since the Fluke incident. Ratings “are up 50 percent in a number of places,” he claimed.
“And advertisers who hung in there are going gangbusters,” he said of the boycott. “The only ones hurt are the ones who left.” The only departure of a big-name, primary advertiser on the program in the last couple of weeks has been by Kohler, the bathroom-fixture maker, the newspaper reported.
The host didn’t elaborate much beyond that; he didn’t provide details about which advertisers might have been “hurt” by their decisions to bail after media mavens and leftist organizations applied tremendous pressure on them to quit the Limbaugh program.
Why not say more? “I don’t want to revisit the experience,” Limbaugh said.
However his ratings and advertiser ranks pan out from here, the Fluke contretemps did appear to bring about at least one permanent change in Limbaugh’s mediasphere: In an attempt to rally support for his cause, a couple of weeks ago he began tweeting. There’s no reason to expect that to stop.