Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio commentator, is being skewered in much the same way he delights in skewering others.
Limbaugh called a 30-year-old law student, Sandra Fluke, a slut and a prostitute because she testified last week before congressional Democrats in support of compelling employers who offer health insurance to have it include birth control for women.
After his broadcast aired, advertisers started bailing out of sponsoring his program. As of Monday, nine had left, including some who had been with Limbaugh for years, benefitting from the audiences his program delivers.
Conservatives are criticizing the advertisers for leaving, but the advertisers have as much right to depart as Limbaugh has to insult people.
Limbaugh has issued an apology, but one wonders whether that mea culpa isn’t too little too late. Until it started to cost him financially, Limbaugh was relishing the publicity his insult of Fluke was getting him.
It’s surprising Limbaugh hasn’t made such a mistake before this. He specializes in insulting politicians and others who aren’t rooted in the right wing of political thought. His radio fans adore him, because he seems to think like they do. But they often mistake his brand of politics for fact instead of pure opinion. He, himself, admits to being more entertainer than philosopher, knowing full well that well-reasoned philosophy would have his listeners switching to other stations.
Limbaugh’s most ardent listeners call themselves “ditto heads,” shorthand for “I believe everything Rush says.” Ditto heads probably don’t mind the fact that Limbaugh used disrespectful terms to describe Fluke, whose statements weren’t all that out of the ordinary.
But Limbaugh’s advertisers have customers who aren’t ditto heads, and those customers made their preferences known when Limbaugh stepped on his tongue. The advertisers, as a result, quickly decided not to put their money where Limbaugh’s mouth is.