Earlier this month Media Matters launched its most ferocious boycott effort ever to force Rush Limbaugh off the air by intimidating advertisers.
The numbers of advertisers “dropping” Limbaugh as published by Media Matters were grossly inflated, as the stats included advertisers who never advertised or never intended to advertise. Relatively few high profile actual sponsors dropped the show.
But the mainstream media had you believe otherwise. But no more. Even The Washington Post reports that it is all but over:
The dark clouds hanging over Rush Limbaugh appear to be lifting.
Exactly one month after the conservative radio host sparked outrage by calling Georgetown law-school student Sandra Fluke “a slut” and “a prostitute” in a three-day diatribe, stations are standing by him, advertisers are trickling back to his program and the news media have moved on….
“The objective has been to show that there are real consequences when someone like Mr. Limbaugh or his company shows no accountability for his actions,” says Angelo Carusone, who has been leading the anti-Limbaugh efforts for Media Matters for America, a Washington organization. “That is continuing.”
At the same time, however, Carusone acknowledged that outrage is hard to sustain. “I think certainly the pressure has been reduced,” he said. “To a certain extent, that’s okay and acceptable. . . . Obviously, the intensity is gone, but the engagement remains high.” …
Limbaugh’s advertising losses may have been less than media accounts suggested. While more than 100 advertisers told Premiere that they didn’t want to be associated with “controversial” radio programs of any kind in the wake of the flap, some of these companies weren’t regular Limbaugh sponsors in the first place.
Carusone said most of the advertiser exodus over the past month appeared to be among companies whose ads aired only in regional or local markets, he said.
Even the hope of Mike Huckabee replacing Rush on Cumulus-owned stations has fizzled:
Expectations that a weakened Limbaugh could be bumped by a new program hosted by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) have also not materialized. None of Limbaugh’s many affiliates have said they’ll move him from his midday time slot in favor of Huckabee.
The Twitter and social media war launched by Media Matters in coordination with “independent” groups has been reduced to a few dead-enders going after small advertisers in small markets, hoping to find someone, anyone, they can bully.
They understand that the opportunity of a lifetime has passed:
The biggest damage has been to Media Matters, which put its reputation for intimidating advertisers on the line, and failed.
Media Matters wasn’t defeated by Limbaugh. Media Matters was defeated by tens of thousands of conservatives who recognized that this was not about Limbaugh or what Limbaugh said.
Those of us who criticized the use of those two words were among the most vociferous defenders against Media Matters’ advertiser intimidation tactics, and the double-standard employed by advertisers such as Carbonite who pandered to the crowd.
The campaign to force Limbaugh off the air was but part of a larger war in which Media Matters and others liberal groups seek to force numerous conservative voices off of the one media outlet dominated by conservatives, talk radio.