It was last Wednesday when Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her views on contraception, but the backlash is still building, thanks in large part to an exemplary social media campaign. Led by liberal groups like ThinkProgress and Media Matters, with help from Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook users, advertisers are still being convinced to ditch Limbaugh’s show, at least temporarily, with the count now approaching 30. And those that have not fled are facing near-constant pressure.
Both liberal websites are keeping a running list of advertisers leaving Limbaugh, currently totaling at least 23 and as many as 26. (Update: ThinkProgress now counts 32 sponsors gone, including Capital One and Netflix, which wrote, “Netflix has not purchased and does not purchase advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show. We do buy network radio advertising and have confirmed that two Netflix spots were picked up in error as part of local news breaks during the Rush Limbaugh show. We have instructed our advertising agency to make sure that this error will not happen again.”)
On Reddit, meanwhile, a popular thread lists contact information for known ad buyers who have yet to cave or comment. Even ex-Limbaugh advertisers are feeling the pressure: In an email today, Geico wrote, “In 2004 when Rush Limbaugh’s program also carried remarks that were inappropriate, we ceased all advertising on his show. We don’t advertise there to this day. On occasion, a local station may mistakenly run a GEICO ad in the wrong time slot. We are directing our ad buyers to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Other companies scrambling to disassociate themselves include AOL, Sears, Allstate, Quicken, ProFlowers, and more. At least two local radio affiliates have also dropped Limbaugh’s program.
A push-back campaign against Fluke, who’s being painted predictably as a radical, exists too, but is being largely drowned out (at least from where we’re sitting) by the “I Am Not A Slut” contingent. Last night, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert honed in, with Colbert saying that Limbaugh was the one acting like prostitute: “He only apologized to keep his advertisers, proving Rush will do anything with his mouth for cash,” the host joked. Stewart sighed, “Personally, I don’t get too worked up about the things Rush Limbaugh says because he is, and has been for many years, a terrible person.” But perhaps owing to the ubiquity of the outrage, he dedicated an entire segment to Limbaugh anyway.
Even Peter Gabriel, whose song “Sledgehammer” played amid Limbaugh’s “slut” rant, is upset. “Peter was appalled to learn that his music was linked to Rush Limbaugh’s extraordinary attack on Sandra Fluke,” he said through a spokesman. “It is obvious from anyone that knows Peter’s work that he would never approve such a use. He has asked his representatives to make sure his music is withdrawn and especially from these unfair aggressive and ignorant comments.”
Maybe if Rush asks really nicely (or pays well enough), Gabriel will let him use this one, dedicated to the advertisers.