I AM SHOCKED -- SHOCKED! -- TO FIND THAT HATE SPEECH AIMED AT ANGRY, BITTER OLD WHITE MEN IS GOING ON HERE!
OK, I'm impressed -- but really, you folks just noticed that radio talkers say controversial things?
Premiere Networks, which distributes [Rush] Limbaugh as well as a host of other right-wing talkers, sent an email out to its affiliates early Friday listing 98 large corporations that have requested their ads appear only on "programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity)."
This is big. According to the radio-industry website Radio-Info.com, which first posted excerpts of the Premiere memo, among the 98 companies that have decided to no longer sponsor these programs are "carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm), and restaurants (McDonald's, Subway)." Together, these talk-radio advertising staples represent millions of dollars in revenue.
Winger Dan Riehl thinks this is a nothing story because he's pretty sure most of these companies don't advertise on talk radio anyway (which he tells us as if it's a good sign of the health of talk radio). OK, maybe -- but if so, why are these companies going to the trouble to say to radio stations, in effect, "You know those shows we don't advertise on? We don't want to advertise on them"? (This concerns the kind of advertising that isn't pinned by the company to a specific show and time slot. The companies are saying, "We really don't want to be on those shows.")
I'm sure there are going to be right-wing conspiracy theories in response to this. Look at the companies on the list! Car makers! (Obama controls the car industry now, right? Even Toyota, somehow?) Insurance companies! (Yes, some insurance companies are affected by the health care law, but is there some connection between Obamacare and Geico?) And, er, um, McDonald's! (What's the connection here? Bill Clinton?)
Now, why is this leaking? The fact that this story migrated from an industry trade journal to the mainstream press -- the linked story above is from John Avlon at the Daily Beast -- may be a sign that Avlon has great reportorial instincts, but I wonder if the companies wanted the story to go mainstream, as a way of explaining why a few of their ads might have strayed into wingnut-hatemonger airspace. It's not our fault!
Of course, none of these companies were worried about anything like that a month ago, or a year ago, or ten years ago, even though the content of these shows was toxic then, too. I guess Limbaugh woke up a sleeping giant. Apparently liberals really can virally make common cause with ordinary middle Americans, and the effect can be really powerful. Sure wish our side had figured this out a long time ago.