Rush Limbaugh Syndicator Circulating List of 98 Advertisers Shunning Controversial Programs

Rush Limbaugh National Association of Broadcasters - H 2012
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Rush Limbaugh National Association of Broadcasters - H 2012

A memo reveals that major sponsors are shunning the polarizing conservative and fellow firebrand hosts.

An internal email from The Rush Limbaugh Show syndicator Premiere Networks paints the picture of a radio empire in crisis.

Industry publication reports that Premiere, a subsidiary of media giant Clear Channel Communications, has informed its stations that 98 advertisers have requested their spots not be aired during programs "deemed to be offensive or controversial," which they define as "environments likely to stir negative sentiment from a very small percentage of the listening public."

Under-fire host Rush Limbaugh's talk show tops the list of shows to be avoided, marking the latest and perhaps most painful development in the fallout from his verbal assault on Georgetown student and contraception advocate Sandra Fluke.

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Starting on February 29 and continuing for several days afterward, the host called Fluke, who had been denied the opportunity by House Republicans to speak on a Congressional panel about birth control insurance coverage, a "slut" and a "prostitute" who was "having so much sex" that she couldn't afford birth control and should be required to post nude videos of herself online if she wanted insurance to pay for the medication. 

By that Friday, four advertisers had pulled out of his show. Limbaugh apologized last Saturday, though his tepid mea culpa, continued assault on his critics, a push from progressive organizations and pointed criticism from President Obama led to 50 advertisers pulling out of his show as of yesterday.

Limbaugh's show on flagship station WABC broadcast over five minutes of dead airtime on Thursday as a result of the exodus.

Topping the list of 98 sponsors looking to avoid Limbaugh and fellow controversial hosts are fastfood chains McDonalds and Subway; automakers Ford, General Motors and Toyota; and insurance companies State Farm and Prudential.

Amongst the other programs specifically listed under the no-air list are talk shows from Michael Savage, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, some of the top names in conservative opinion media.