Rush Limbaugh Sponsor Exodus Hits 43 as Sandra Fluke Fallout Continues
Rush Limbaugh can't stop the bleeding.
The conservative firebrand lost another round of advertisers for his syndicated program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, by Wednesday morning, putting at 43 the number of sponsors retreating following his high-profile attacks last week on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke.
The mass exodus continued, as Think Progress rounded up six more sponsored that decided to no longer associate their brand with Limbaugh. Reputation Rhino, fittingly, a reputation management firm, insisted that they bought bulk air time on ABC and would make sure their ads would not run on Limbaugh's show and even used the situation as a subject for their blog.
The other companies pulling their ads were Consolidated Credit, Constant Contact, RSVP Discount Beverage, Cunningham Security and Regal Assets, which said in a statement that "We cannot even begin to understand how Sandra Fluke feels regarding the recent attacks by Rush Limbaugh, but everyone at Regal Assets wants to let Sandra Fluke know that we stand by her side in full support."
Later in the day, Freedom Debt Relief, Norway Savings Bank, and Portland Ovations also removed their sponsorships, though once again came the assertion that bulk ad buys had been responsible for their brands airing ads on the show in the first place.
"Portland Ovations is not a local sponsor of this show and has requested that Portland Ovations advertising be removed from within and around this program," the non-profit wrote on its Facebook page. "Back in January we purchased run-of-station advertising, which is placed at the station’s discretion. We are grateful to WGAN for heeding our request. We thank our Members and patrons for sharing their opinions on this matter. It’s a prime example of the active, engaged community in which we are all so fortunate to live, work and play."
On late Tuesday, Teleconferencing company Polycom, home-improvement company Service Magic, life insurance site AccuQuote, Hadeed Carpet and clothing company Bonobos announced that they had requested their ads pulled from the program. They joined earlier Tuesday ship-jummpers, insurance company Geico, tractor manufacturer John Deere, St. Vincent's Medical Center and Stamps.com. As the day wore on, nine more sponsors pulled their spots: Bethesda Sedation Dentistry, Cascades Dental, Philadelphia Orchestra, Goodwill Industries, Heart & Body Extract, Netflix, Downeast Energy, Capitol One, and JCPenney. Matrix Direct jumped ship later in the day.
Those companies joined such high-profile companies as AOL, Sears, LegalZoom and ProFlowers in removing their spots from the show.
Limbaugh spent three days berating Fluke, a student who had sought to testify before Congress on behalf of insurance coverage for birth control, calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute" and insisting that, if she wanted birth control coverage, she post videos of herself having sex.
He apologized for his choice of words on Saturday, a mea culpa that fell short in the eyes of many critics. As a result of public outrage, two stations, in Pittsfield, Mass. and Hilo, Hawaii, removed Limbaugh from their schedules. Musician Peter Gabriel, whose song "Sledghammer" was played during Limbaugh's rant, moved to have his music taken off of Limbaugh's program.
"Peter was appalled to learn that his music was linked to Rush Limbaugh's extraordinary attack on Sandra Fluke," his reps said. "It is obvious from anyone that knows Peter's work that he would never approve such a use. He has asked his representatives to make sure his music is withdrawn and especially from these unfair aggressive and ignorant comments."
Despite the loss in revenue, Premiere Networks, the syndication arm of Limbaugh's bosses at Clear Channel, stands by the host.
They are "committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary without condoning or agreeing with the opinions, comments or attempts at humor expressed by on-air talent," the company said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions."