The Daily Beast’s most frustrating writer has a libertarian notion that Rush Limbaugh’s livelihood(!) is threatened by the StopRush campaign (and by extension, my continuing blog action to get 25,000 signatures on the White House petition to remove Rush from Armed Forces Radio). The core of his argument is that our efforts are “illiberal” economic pressure:
No one is involuntarily exposed to his poison; and he earned the big bucks by peddling this crap. That’s the American way. Yes, I’m relieved that the government is not intervening, but the First Amendment ensures that. The right way to counter his speech, in my view, is with speech, not threats to his livelihood.
My heart weeps for Rush Limbaugh in his Florida estate. Anyone who can afford a piece of an NFL team gets no sympathy from me about their “livelihood” when they make themselves toxic — and that is what has happened here. Rush Limbaugh is losing advertisers because he has become toxic to almost any brand, and nobody made him do it.
Almost. There are exceptions…as reported by the Daily Beast:
“Advertising on Rush seems to be the logical move, he’s actually a sugar daddy,” Seeking Arrangements founder and CEO Brandon Wade told the Daily Beast, defining the term as an older, wealthier man involved with a much younger woman. “One of the things we have found [is that] even though a lot of Republicans are not willing to say they embody the sugar-daddy lifestyle,” many in fact do, he said, claiming that 60 percent of the site’s male members say they are Republicans.
Noel Biderman, the CEO of AshleyMadison.com offered a less contorted explanation of his site’s offer to fill all of Limbaugh’s newly vacated advertising space: “I’m opportunistic, I’m always opportunistic.” (Both sites put out press releases touting their plans to buy airtime on Limbaugh’s show).
Contrast this with the 55 companies that have pulled their advertising from the Rush Limbaugh misogynist circus. This is classic free market behavior, as is the social media backlash against Limbaugh. In fact, what we are seeing right now is a market correction in the value of Rush Limbaugh. We will not stop until Excellence In Broadcasting is a penny stock — just like Glenn Beck. Perhaps Sullivan will remember how that went?
Indeed, we have been here before. Angelo Carusone, otherwise known as StopRush, said last night that the WABC broadcast of Limbaugh’s show included 86 ad slots, of which 77 were PSAs or dead air. That’s not because people called up and threatened advertisers, either. Neither StopBeck or StopRush has actually had to organize a boycott; in both cases, the focus has been on “advertiser education,” after which companies almost always pull their ads voluntarily.
Put another way: in a free market, Rush Limbaugh is not entitled to continued success. He is allowed to succeed or fail on his own, and doing a spectacular job of failing. Some of us are glad to help him fail. Why does Sullivan hate the free market?