Readers Poll: Majority see little impact on Rush.
Cable TV talking heads and newspaper columnists have taken their shots at Rush Limbaugh all week long. But ask broadcasters for their take and you’ll get a much different response. More than a third (36%) thinks the controversy will blow over and advertisers will come back to Limbaugh’s show.
“When the dust settles, trust me, they’ll be back; they just don’t want to be in the middle of the storm,” says one reader. Few poll respondents expect the pressure by Limbaugh’s critics to last. “A sustained effort to shut him down will lose momentum,” one broadcaster predicts. It was the pullback by some advertisers that generated the vast majority of comments, most critical of their decision. “The advertisers are lily-livered chickens and are losing by leaving,” was a pretty typical comment. One-in-five (22%) think the brouhaha will help re-energize Limbaugh and his core fan base. One reader says, “This is what he’s about — secretly it’s what we like about him: he ruffles feathers.”
While Rush has been a hot topic on talk shows, the internet and social media, nearly three-in-ten (28%) of Inside Radio readers think the controversy won’t have a long-term impact. One reader writes, “Jocks and talk show hosts have been saying things like this or worse for 30 years and most of the time there are no long term effects.”
Among those responding to our unscientific, online survey, there were those who think Limbaugh could be hurt by the controversy. One-in-five (22%) said it will further narrow the list of potential advertisers willing to buy his show. Nearly as many (17%) think he could see his overall political influence weakened. Says one reader, “I think it will energize women and will hopefully force more advertisers to back away from his crudeness.”
A popular thread among the dozens of comments was the thought that broadcasters should have stepped forward and defended Limbaugh’s free speech rights more aggressively. “This is Rush’s ‘Imus’ moment and it shows that free speech is under attack,” one reader writes. Lots of broadcasters also subscribe to the “no publicity is bad publicity” school of thought. “Who in the business didn’t get this is a huge Rush promotion — he couldn’t buy attention like this,” one reader says.
One broadcaster adds, “For the record, we never received a single complaint call.”