So bigmouth Rush Limbaugh is in the news again, for saying something stupid and offensive. That's nothing new, but this time it seems to be different.
Political views aside, I've never cared for Limbaugh. He always struck me as a loud, obnoxious know-it-all -- like the fat schoolyard bully nobody liked, but who we all tolerated and simply kept our distance.
Advertisers are jumping ship in droves -- more than 30 so far -- but I don't think it will hurt him in the long run. And because he airs on Clear Channel, the biggest radio company in the country, he'll survive and he'll stay on the air. I would imagine that many of the advertisers who've dropped his show have temporarily moved their ad buys to other Clear Channel programming, which diminishes financial pressure the company might feel to drop Limbaugh and replace him.
What makes the situation different from other times radio personalities have been caught saying stupid or offensive things is that it's happening in the age of social media. Facebook, Twitter and the rest have amplified the outrage so advertisers can't ignore it -- especially when it spills onto their own social media outlets. To placate the vocal objectors, it's easiest to move the ads somewhere else that doesn't have a big target on it.
Many of the advertisers will probably come back to his show once things quiet down. Understandably, they don't want to be seen as condoning the nastiness that Limbaugh got called out on. But most will be back because he does draw a large audience. And in the interim, as Wayne Friedman points out in his TV Watch column on MediaPost, the gap will be filled by marketers who have lower content qualifications -- the direct marketers, per-inquiry and internet marketers hawking health supplements and ED remedies. Perhaps those are more fitting for Limbaugh anyway.