A version of this column appeared originally in THE DAILY BEAST.
Attempts to advance a leftwing media agenda by destroying Rush Limbaugh’s radio show will surely fail -just as efforts to advance a progressive economic agenda by punishing the nation’s most productive corporations and individuals have always failed.
The raging controversy over the nation’s top-rated conservative commentator won’t rearrange the landscape of talk radio, but it does highlight the odd leftist preference for attacking the success of the other side rather than promoting progress for their own.
Boycott threats recently led more than 98 companies to suspend their sponsorship of the Limbaugh show, but Rush and his associates insist (very plausibly) that many other firms have eagerly rushed in (you’ll pardon the expression) to fill the gap. To underline that point, El Rushbo even turned away one repentant sponsor who apparently changed his mind and wanted to come back to the show after a few days off the air; the indignant host declares he wants no part of on-air partners whose support for his work seems wobbly or tentative.
Meanwhile, the Limbaugh apology for crude language (including the epithets “slut” and “prostitute”) in his three days of ridicule of free-contraception activist Sandra Fluke poses an uncomfortable question for his critics: now that he’s said he’s sorry, repeatedly and somewhat emotionally, what, exactly, do they mean to accomplish with their continued pressure to try to force sponsors to sever ties with the show?
Other than raising big money for their anti-Rush jihad, the leftist pressure groups clearly intend to reduce Limbaugh’s national reach and media influence or, even better, to put an end to his show altogether. They tip their hand when they claim that his attack on Ms. Fluke is only typical of the “hate speech” which has always characterized his show. They object to far more than a few minutes of one particularly controversial monologue; they resent the very existence of a program that’s been wildly successful for 24 years and spawned a powerful conservative talk industry which reaches an overall weekly audience of more than 40 million and which more than one-in-eight Americans describe as “very credible.”
Limbaugh’s critics seem unable to accept the fact that many of their fellow citizens actually appreciate the opportunity to listen to his opinions on a regular basis, so rather than persuade those poor, benighted souls to listen to something else, they mean to take away the broadcast that they enjoy.