Are Republicans Finally Done Apologizing to Limbaugh?

You have to wonder why Rush Limbaugh holds such an exulted position in the Republican pantheon. Not only did Republicans put him in their top three "least favorite" news personalities in a recent Harris Poll, but he's frequently more trouble than he's worth. Yes, he's the top-rated talk radio host in America. Yes, his audience is nearly entirely Republican. And yes, that audience are proudly "dittoheads" who do whatever Limbaugh tells them to. But all of that means jack. No one listens to talk radio. The local classic rock station probably has a bigger audience than Limbaugh in any given market. In any sane world, he would be nobody. The vast, vast majority of Americans -- and even of Republicans -- don't hang on Rush's every word. In fact, that majority doesn't listen to him at all. Color me perplexed.

Maybe it's Limbaugh's position as a corporate mouthpiece that frightens the GOP. It's not who he speaks to that's important, but who he speaks for. His market share isn't really the result of popularity, it's the result of Clear Channel's desire to get Limbaugh's voice heard. If Rush were left to live or die on ratings, he would've been cancelled long, long ago (as his ratings-dependent TV show was) and talk radio in general would be a dead medium. He's like Glenn Beck before Fox News finally tired of him -- a revenue hole, but useful as a propaganda tool.

Which is why it's hard to get extremely excited by this news:


One of the advertisers on Rush Limbaugh’s popular conservative radio show Friday announced that it is pulling its ads in the wake of the host’s controversial “slut” comments this week.

“We don’t condone negative comments directed toward any group. In response, we are currently pulling our ads from Rush with Rush Limbaugh,” the company Sleep Train Mattress Centers announced on its Twitter account early Friday.

An examination of @theSleepTrain’s latest tweets shows that the company began tweeting at some of its followers starting around midnight, telling multiple Twitter users, “Thank you for your concern. We are currently pulling all of our ads with Rush Limbaugh.”

Don't get me wrong; I applaud Sleep Train's move and I think every decent person should. But I just don't think it's going to make any difference. Limbaugh's show, with all it's worship of capitalism and the "job creators," isn't about generating advertising revenue and bringing in a profit. It's a lobbying firm that specializes in astroturfing. The ad revenue is simply gravy. While it's not likely that Limbaugh would ever have no advertisers at all, it's not hard to imagine the show continuing without any. Sleep Train's smart to pull the ads and disassociate themselves from Limbaugh's stinking pit of hatred and lies -- and more advertisers should -- but it's not really going to hurt him much. Sorry.

This, on the other hand, is a different story entirely:


Speaker John Boehner on Friday denounced radio host Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” remarks aimed at Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, but the Ohio Republican also jabbed at Democrats who have been fundraising off the fracas.

“The speaker obviously believes the use of those words was inappropriate, as is trying to raise money off the situation,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an e-mail Friday morning.


On his radio show this week, Limbaugh used “slut” and “prostitute” to refer to Fluke and equated her advocating for contraception access to demanding to be “paid to have sex.” House Democrats sent a letter to Boehner Thursday asking House Republican leaders to condemn the remarks.

Yeah, Boehner couldn't resist taking a purely gratuitous shot at Democrats, but this is an interesting development. Remember when Republicans couldn't stop apologizing to Limbaugh? Things have really changed.

Maybe they're finally coming to realize that Rush really is nobody and that, as I've already said, he's more trouble than he's worth. It would be hard to think of a more positive -- but realistic -- development for the GOP than for them to stop caring what talk radio shriekers think.


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