Ad campaign targets Limbaugh
Network sees it as effort to silence radio host
NEW YORK | Rush Limbaugh’s opponents started a campaign against him Thursday, seizing upon the radio star’s attack of a Georgetown law student as a “slut” to make a long-term effort aimed at weakening his business.
The liberal Media Matters for America is using a past campaign against Glenn Beck as a template. In Mr. Limbaugh, however, they are going after bigger game. He already is fighting back and the group’s stance has provoked concerns that an effort to silence someone for objectionable talk is in itself objectionable.
Media Matters is spending at least $100,000 for two advertisements that will run in eight cities.
The ads use Mr. Limbaugh’s own words about student Sandra Fluke, who told congressional Democrats that contraception should be paid for in health plans. Mr. Limbaugh, on his radio programs, suggested Ms. Fluke wanted to be paid to have sex, which made her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” In return for the money, he said Ms. Fluke should post videos of herself having sex. Under sharp criticism, Mr. Limbaugh later apologized.
In one of the anti-limbaugh ads, listeners are urged to call the local station that carries Mr. Limbaugh to say “we don’t talk to women like that” in our city.
Ad time was purchased in Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Seattle; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Macon, Ga.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Mr. Limbaugh or because of perceptions that Mr. Limbaugh may be vulnerable in that market, said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.
“What we’re really looking for is a way to demonstrate the persistence of the effort and the fact that it is on a wide scale,” Mr. Carusone said.
A spokeswoman for Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Mr. Limbaugh’s show to nearly 600 radio stations nationally, said Media Matters has gone beyond criticism of Mr. Limbaugh’s words to an attempt to silence him and intimidate advertisers.
“This is not about women,” said Rachel Nelson, Premiere’s spokeswoman. “It’s not about ethics and it’s not about the nature of our public discourse. It’s a direct attack on America’s guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech. It’s essentially a call for censorship masquerading as high-minded indignation.”
Mr. Limbaugh, on his radio show Wednesday, said he is being targeted in an attack that was long-planned — not mentioning it was his words that lit the fuse.
“They’re not even really offended by what happened,” he said. “This is just an opportunity to execute a plan they’ve had in their drawer since 2009.”
Rush Limbaugh’s comments about a Georgetown law student’s sex life were the spur for a radio ad campaign challenged as an attack on free speech.