At Politico, Ethan Epstein reports that Rush Limbaugh’s bigotry laden rants are finally catching up with the massive right-wing radio empire the political pundit has built over a career that now spans more than three decades. It’s not that his audience is shrinking. Limbaugh still manages to draw approximately 13 million listeners a week. But the truth is that despite the rise of Donald Trump, Limbaugh’s bigotry and sexist bravado have cost him precious affiliates and advertisers. He no longer appears on WABC in New York, WRKO in Boston and KFI in Los Angeles, just to name three examples. And it turns out, he can easily be replaced by other right-wingers who have far more respect for both people of color and women.
But if that’s really the problem with Limbaugh, wouldn’t he be a Donald Trump man? You might think so, and even though many people have credited Limbaugh with paving the way for Trump’s rhetoric, the radio host himself has refused to outright endorse his party’s presumptive nominee. Limbaugh’s refusal is certainly curious given certain affinities the two share, especially their apparent problems with empowered women.
And that, according to Epstein is exactly where Limbaugh’s trouble began, with his attack on Sandra Fluke:
‘Because four years after Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” on air, spurring a major boycott movement, reams of advertisers still won’t touch him.’
Media Matters has documented Limbaugh’s strange fixation with Sandra Fluke, which resembles Trump’s own fixation with Megyn Kelly earlier in the campaign cycle. But as Epstein points out, Limbaugh has no confusion about whether or not he’s a politician or businessman:
‘My first goal is to attract the largest possible audience so I can charge confiscatory ad rates. I happen to have great entertainment skills […] that enables me to sell airtime.’
And this, Epstein speculates, just might be the real reason Limbaugh hasn’t come out either for or against Trump. Instead of alienating listeners, the radio host is very carefully walking the Trump line. But all of this may soon come to an end, despite the number of listeners Limbaugh can still muster. Radio is after all a business and Limbaugh just might not be worth the risk any longer.
And just like with Trump, there’s a major decision coming up on the part of the public. Limbaugh’s 8 year contract with parent company Premiere is up in July and it remains to be seen if the pressure from the public, loss of affiliates and advertisers alike, as well as petitions such as Flush Rush will push the company to renew Limbaugh with a significant pay cut or possibly simply let him go.
After all, talk radio is practically a thing of the past now, with a few vestiges like Rush Limbaugh hanging on but even a media giant couldn’t escape the wrath he incurred by attacking a young woman who simply wanted access to contraception. Perhaps that same kind of slow attrition is already at work on Trump’s own hateful brand, but hopefully it won’t take 4 years for the presidential candidate to feel the effects. Watch below as Limbaugh blasts Sandra Fluke again and again as if he just can’t help himself.