On Saturday, March 3, 2012, Carbonite announced that it was dropping its advertising on the Rush Limbaugh Show even after Limbaugh had apologized to Sandra Fluke for certain comments made regarding Ms. Fluke.
When the controversy originally broke, Carbonite took a principled stand that its advertising was not an endorsement of a particular talk show host’s views, and that it was not political (emphasis mine):
Over the past two days we have received a tremendous amount of feedback on Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments. I too am offended and very concerned about his comments. Limbaugh’s remarks have us rethinking our future use of talk radio.
We use more than 40 talk show hosts to help get the Carbonite message out to the public. The nature of talk radio is that from time to time listeners are offended by a host and ask that we pull our advertising. This goes for conservatives like Limbaugh and progressives like Stephanie Miller and Ed Shultz. We even get customers who demand that we pull the plug on NPR. As an advertiser, we do not have control over a show’s editorial content or what they say on air. Carbonite does not endorse the opinions of the shows or their hosts.
However, the outcry over Limbaugh is the worst we’ve ever seen. I have scheduled a face-to-face meeting next week with Limbaugh during which I will impress upon him that his comments were offensive to many of our customers and employees alike.
Please know your voice has been heard and that we are taking this matter very seriously.
On Saturday afternoon, March 3, Limbaugh issued an apology.
Yet Saturday evening, despite having said he would wait to meet with Limbaugh the following week, Carbonite’s CEO issued following statement announcing the termination of further advertising:
A Statement from David Friend, CEO of Carbonite as of 6:45pm ET, March 3:
“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”
This blog and many others have called attention to the fact that Carbonite’s advertising policy is not consistently applied.
Carbonite continues to advertise on the Ed Schultz Show, despite Mr. Schultz’s long history of verbal attacks on the Tea Party movement and conservatives, including calling conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham a “slut,” for which Mr. Schultz later apologized.
Given Carbonite’s very public announcement, it is appropriate to keep track of whether Carbonite is living up to its own standards.
A special Focus Page has been created as a place at which readers can post information and links documenting whether Carbonite is advertising on programs and venues (including websites) which have engaged in personal attacks or uncivilized discourse.
This is a sunshine project, not a boycott.
Whether a consumer chooses to use Carbonite or a publisher accepts advertising from Carbonite is not a concern of this project. We do not seek to have Carbonite stop advertising anywhere, and would have preferred that it live up to its original statement of keeping politics out of its advertising.
When will the project end? When Carbonite lives up to its own standards.