Rush Limbaugh Slams ABC News, Other Outlets for Purposely Distorting Controversy

12:45 PM PST 03/07/2012 by Paul Bond
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Fleeing advertisers amount to "losing a couple of French fries in the container when it's delivered to you at the drive-thru," the right-wing radio host says.

Think a mass exodus of advertisers is putting a dent in Rush Limbaugh’s business?

Not hardly.

The conservative radio host on Wednesday compared the number of sponsors he has lost to “losing a couple of French fries in the container when it’s delivered to you at the drive-thru.”

Limbaugh, speaking on his show Wednesday in what probably amounts to his most spirited counterattack against his detractors since controversy erupted a week ago, explained that he has roughly 18,000 sponsors, mostly at local affiliates, and just 28 have ditched him.

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The tally was actually up to 43 on Wednesday, but Limbaugh said there’s no way even to know the exact number, because some companies are making proclamations – hoping for free publicity – that they won’t advertise on Limbaugh’s show even though they never have to begin with.

With some companies, it’s hard to tell if they know themselves where all their radio ads appear. Polycom, for example, posted on its Facebook page a statement reading, in part, “we had no intention to run ads on the Rush Limbaugh Show.” It later states: “We have taken action to discontinue advertising on this program.”

That sort of ambiguity isn’t unusual, as some companies buy ad spots on local stations and they end up running on a variety of shows. If they run ads on a different show than Limbaugh’s but on the same channel, no revenue is lost at the station, and Limbaugh and his partners Clear Channel Communications and Premiere Radio Networks weren’t sharing in that revenue to begin with.

In another example, a spokesman said “Netflix doesn’t purchase advertising on the Rush Limbaugh Show,” but activists are counting Netflix as one of the 43 companies that have abandoned Limbaugh. Sears also announced it was not an advertiser, but it’s also counted as among the 43.

The number 43 that most reporters are using comes from liberal organizations like Think Progress and Media Matters for America, which are monitoring the situation, as well as the Daily Kos blog, which is credited for initiating the advertising boycott against Limbaugh.

Limbaugh, of course, has been losing advertisers since calling Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” over her opinion – expressed to members of Congress – that she shouldn’t have to pay for her own contraception.

Limbaugh said reporters are running with the story of him losing advertisers because it fits their liberal agenda. He specifically called out journalists at ABC News, “who understand how this works and are purposely misrepresenting it.”

Other reporters “lie,” he said, because “they don’t understand how it works.”

“Advertising agencies order advertising buys on a series of local stations from market to market,” Limbaugh explained to his audience. “A controversy like this erupts, they put out a notice to the stations, ‘By the way, for the time being we don’t want our commercials to run when Limbaugh is on.’ But they are not canceling their advertising on the station. They’re just saying they don’t want it running on my program during the local affiliate’s commercial time, not ours.”

Limbaugh said at least three new sponsors will begin running ads in the next few weeks and others who have dropped the show want back in. “One of them is practically begging.”

That’s because the effort to harm him is “backfiring,” he said. “You can look at the stock price of some of these companies. I’m not gonna say anymore.”

Most companies that yanked ads are privately held. But here’s a sample of the stock performance of the publicly held companies since they made their anti-Limbaugh pronouncements:

Carbonite (down 9 percent), Netflix (down 5 percent), Deere & Co. (down 4 percent), AOL (down 3 percent), Sears (down 2 percent) and Stamps.com (down 1 percent).

Whether there's a correlation between dropping Limbaugh and dropping stock prices is debatable, though it was difficult to find a stock of a public company that rose after executives made their ditch-Limbaugh announcements.

Liberally biased media coverage of the controversy and his fleeing sponsors, Limbaugh said Wednesday, is designed to “dispirit” his audience.

“They thought I would be off the air by now. They can’t understand why I still am on the air. There is also another rumor going around that I am going to be suspended for a week. It is utter BS,” he said. “They have not taken me out. They’re the ones who are frustrated. They’re the ones who are angry.”

Email: paul.bond@thr.com

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