Rush Limbaugh's opponents attack host in new radio campaign
(CBS/AP) The Rush Limbaugh controversy continues. In the latest development, Limbaugh's opponents have launched a radio campaign against him, seizing upon the radio star's attack of a Georgetown law student as a "slut" to make a long-term effort aimed at weakening his business.
The liberal Media Matters for America is using a past campaign against Glenn Beck as a template. In Limbaugh, however, they're going after bigger game. He's already fighting back and the group's stance has provoked concerns that an effort to silence someone for objectionable talk is in itself objectionable.
Media Matters is spending at least $100,000 for two advertisements that will run in eight cities.
The ads use Limbaugh's own words about student Sandra Fluke, who testified at a congressional hearing that contraception should be paid for in health plans. Limbaugh, on his radio programs, suggested Fluke wanted to be paid to have sex, which made her a "slut" and a "prostitute." In return for the money, he said Fluke should post videos of herself having sex. Under sharp criticism, Limbaugh later apologized.
In one of the anti-Limbaugh ads, listeners are urged to call the local station that carries Limbaugh to say "we don't talk to women like that" in our city.
Ad time was purchased in Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Seattle; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Macon, Ga.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Limbaugh or because of perceptions Limbaugh may be vulnerable in that market, said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.
"What we're really looking for is a way to demonstrate the persistence of the effort and the fact that it is on a wide scale," Carusone said.
Limbaugh, on his radio show Wednesday, said he's being targeted in an attack that was long-planned - not mentioning it was his words that lit the fuse.
"They're not even really offended by what happened," he said. "This is just an opportunity to execute a plan they've had in their drawer since 2009."
Limbaugh's team also posted an online response to the new radio campaign, explaining, "It was planned ahead and activated at the first moment Brock [Media Matters for America founder David Brock] could manipulate a media frenzy. Make no mistake, Brock's 'marketplace of ideas' offers only one brand: Brand Brock. All others will be forced off the shelves with intimidation and lies. Media Matters for America stands for censorship, and nothing more than that."
Determining how much of a financial impact the Fluke comments have already had on Limbaugh is murky business.
Premiere Radio Networks syndicates Limbaugh's show to more than 600 radio stations nationally, but already stations in Hawaii and Massachusetts have dropped his program. Media Matters claims that 58 companies have specifically asked that their ads be excluded from Limbaugh's show.
Radio-Info.com's TRI Newsletter said Premiere has circulated a list of 98 advertisers who want to avoid "environments likely to stir negative sentiments," essentially all politically pointed talk shows.
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