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Media Matters, NOW unite to force Limbaugh off the air

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Why Rush has to go

NOW action vice president Erin Matson explained how important taking out Limbaugh is in the wake of his comments about contraception activist Sandra Fluke.

“[Fluke] came back and said, ‘The attack on me was an attack on all women,” Matson said.

“And she was right, and at this point in the ‘War on Women’ we are all gearing up for the 2012 election and we all understand how serious they are. Their self-appointed mascot, Rush Limbaugh, is someone who is in a somewhat vulnerable position.”

NOW has a nearly 20-year history of fighting Limbaugh. The group claimed victory in 1994 when it prevented him from obtaining a $1 million spokesman contract from the Florida Citrus Commission.

But the larger goal — get him off the air — has eluded NOW.

“We always target advertisers,” Matson said, ”and that is what we are talking a lot about tonight — because that is really how we can get rid of him for good.”

Listen:

NOW claims some victories

Media Matters online strategy director Angelo Carusone, the point man for the liberal organization’s 2009-2011 “Stop Beck” movement, provided the Wednesday night webinar audience with a list of victories his organization and NOW have won against Limbaugh, namely eliminating some of his sponsors.

“I think the bottom line is that there is real accountability and consequences that have been attached to what Mr. Limbaugh has done thus far,” Carusone said.

“Every single day his show is broadcast his syndicator loses money, and any affiliated station that has to broadcast that in the community, they have to deal with the economic consequences. The business decision to continue to broadcast Rush Limbaugh is proven to be bad for business.”

According to Carusone, more than 65 former national advertisers are no longer advertising on Limbaugh’s show. He also boasted of “countless successes at the local level with local advertisers who have taken similarly responsible action and decided to not broadcast on his program anymore.”

But nonpartisan radio expert Michael Harrison, who publishes Talkers magazine, told The Daily Caller in March that Limbaugh’s audience numbers likely will continue to rise.

Harrison also said Limbaugh’s opponents have been overestimating the impact of their push against the show’s advertisers. Many, he said, have standing “no-buy” orders covering controversial programs — orders that have nothing to do with activist campaigns.

Carusone, however, pointed to the conservative FreedomWorks organization’s recent sponsorship of Limbaugh’s program as proof that he has a sponsor shortage. And two stations, he said — one in California and one in Philadelphia — have dropped the show entirely.

TheDC reported in April that the Philadelphia situation actually involved a move from AM to FM.

“There have been real consequences that have been attached to [Limbaugh's] words so far,” Carusone added. “And we are just glad that everybody is going to continue to push this year to ensure that the perverse incentive of these kind of attacks at least aren’t rewarded with additional revenue streams.”