Monday, March 5, 2012

Limbaugh's Ship May Be Leaking Water

Rush Limbaugh has been saying offensive things for years.  His most recent controversy may be the one that finally does him in after all this time.

Rush Limbaugh
I'm sure you've heard about the controversy by now.  Limbaugh called a Georgetown University Law Student who testified in front of Congress as a part of the birth control debate that currently is front page news across the country "a slut" and "a prostitute" on his radio show.  Limbaugh has since half-heartedly apologized, but that has not deflected the left from continuing to attack Limbaugh, who seems more vulnerable now then ever.

Presidential candidates like Newt Gingrich, who appeared on Sunday morning on Meet the Press, have mostly steered clear of the Rush controversy instead trying to deflect this back somehow on President Obama while pretty much just re-framing the point Limbaugh tried to make.  That point is that birth control is somehow a license to be promiscuous.  That's a totally bogus claim, and the Republicans know it.  Rachel Maddow did an excellent analysis of how silly this idea is on Friday.

The same Constitutional Amendment that the Republicans point to in this fight is also something that defends Rush Limbaugh's right to call someone names.  It's the First Amendment which regulates the government's ability to pass legislation abridging free speech or the freedom of religion.  Republicans argue that President Obama's old plan to make employers provide contraception through Obamacare (he has since compromised on that) somehow threatens religious employers' freedom of religion.

Back to Rush, he has the right to say what he said.  However offensive it is to you or me or to Sandra Fluke, Limbaugh's First Amendment rights protect him.  Of course, Fluke may file a lawsuit against Limbaugh for libel, but that's extremely hard to prove.  Limbaugh's lawyers would no doubt dig through all of Fluke's past personal history to find ways to get Limbaugh off the hook.

All of that said, the left, many women, and even some on the right have every right to push back at him.  If you're one of those people that want to silence El Rushbo, then there's a way to do it, and it's not to write the FCC.

Instead of writing the FCC, write, DO NOT CALL, the stations that air Rush Limbaugh.  By FCC regulation, commercial broadcast stations must keep letters from the listeners in their public files for three years.

After you're done writing the stations, put pressure on Rush's advertisers.  Tell them how offended you were by his comments and the way he portrayed this woman.  Since a majority of women use some sort of birth control, Rush insulted not only Sandra Fluke but a wide range of women.  Remind the advertisers of that fact.  Limbaugh is already losing advertisers, and, if he loses more, he will be in serious trouble.

You see, Limbaugh's show is a cash cow for radio stations.  His loyal listeners tune in daily and drive his ratings up.  His numbers have been falling in recent years.  They were down 33 percent over a year in 2011, and I would assume that this latest controversy won't necessarily help him.  As his numbers fall, his revenue falls.  Eventually, stations will grow tired of dealing with Limbaugh's controversial nature and decide that he's just not worth carrying anymore, and it happens very quickly.

Radio is a place where you can still have an impact on what programming is aired.  It's a local game.  If you want change, target the local stations that air Limbaugh and the businesses that advertise on his show.

I won't make a time prediction, but it looks like to me, it's only a matter of time until El Rushbo's show is a memory.  He's hit the iceberg, and he's taking on water.

If you want more information about how you can make a difference, here's an FCC publication called "The Public and Broadcasting" for your reference.


Nicolas Martin said...

I disagree with Limbaugh on this and many issues, but I feel no need to try to shut him up. But then I'm not a liberal or a conservative, our two competing censorial factions.

Liberals and conservatives adore free markets when they think it will serve their ends. The rest of the time they hate them and do what they can to subvert and suppress them.

IndyDem said...

Thanks Jon! I was saying the same thing when I saw a Facebook page asking people to call the FCC to kick Rush off the air.
Rush is a vial pot stirrer and thrives on conflict either real or self created, but calling for the government to limit liberty, even the liberty to be an idiot, is a dangerous road to travel.
Calling the station, like you said, and also call the ever shrinking list companies who advertise on his show and tell them what you think of Rush.
If he has no advertisers, he has no show.
Zach Adamson