The dark clouds hanging over Rush Limbaugh appear to be lifting.
Exactly one month after the conservative radio host sparked outrage by calling Georgetown law-school student Sandra Fluke “a slut” and “a prostitute” in a three-day diatribe, stations are standing by him, advertisers are trickling back to his program and the news media have moved on.
Liberal groups that organized petitions and boycotts against Limbaugh say that they intend to keep up the pressure and that they’ve had a lasting impact on the most popular radio host in America.
“The objective has been to show that there are real consequences when someone like Mr. Limbaugh or his company shows no accountability for his actions,” says Angelo Carusone, who has been leading the anti-Limbaugh efforts for Media Matters for America, a Washington organization. “That is continuing.”
At the same time, however, Carusone acknowledged that outrage is hard to sustain. “I think certainly the pressure has been reduced,” he said. “To a certain extent, that’s okay and acceptable. . . . Obviously, the intensity is gone, but the engagement remains high.”
On Monday, the 600 or so radio stations that air Limbaugh’s program were told by his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, to resume running “barter” ads during his program. Stations are required to run these ads in exchange for paying discounted fees to Premiere to air Limbaugh’s show. Premiere, which is owned by radio giant Clear Channel Communications, had suspended the “barter” requirement for two weeks in a move widely seen as a way to give advertisers a chance to lie low while Limbaugh was in the news.