Flush Rush

As much as I admire David Brock and his colleagues at Media Matters, I have to question their decision to continue covering the mad rantings of the washed-up, advertiser-deficient Rush Limbaugh. Even by wingnut-radio standards, Limbaugh’s latest utterances are so bizarre, so demented, so…psychotic that it may be time to conclude that he no longer merits our attention in any capacity. He’s now nothing more than the screaming screwball in the street.

I can’t help wondering if Media Matters should instead focus more on the nationally syndicated wingnut op-ed readers who still have some degree of influence on the national political conversation. After all, there are plenty of people who have never heard Limbaugh in their lives…but they still read George Will and regard him as a legitimate voice in the political debate, instead of being just another crackpot. I’m sure you know people in your social circle who think Charles Krauthammer’s on the level (well, he is, just a low one). I’ve met plenty of folks who still see Ross Douthat as some sort of genteel, soft-voiced champion of civil conservatism, instead of the ultimate culture warrior he really is.

I know, I know: who am I to tell Brock how to do his job? I completely understand. Still, can it not be argued that, when it comes to nullifying Limbaugh’s power, Sandra Fluke finished the job Brock started?

Radio executives said the erosion of ad dollars from talk stations was driven in part by a series of organized social-media campaigns by liberal activists in early 2012 that scared away advertisers.

The social-media campaigns followed remarks by conservative talk-radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” on the air after she had testified to lawmakers that her school should provide birth-control coverage to students despite its Catholic affiliation. Mr. Limbaugh’s spokesman Brian Glicklich said his comments were made “in satire, and decontextualized from his larger point.”

While few blue-chip national brands advertised directly on politically charged shows like Mr. Limbaugh’s, the incident spooked many such companies from advertising on adjacent programming.

Activists were encouraged to record the exact time that companies’ ads ran on Mr. Limbaugh’s show, and because stations occasionally broadcast ads at the wrong time, brands suddenly had reason to reduce any risk of inadvertent appearances.

Sam Seder’s point about the audience that chooses to ignore Bill O’Reilly’s freedom from facts also applies to the folks still listening to Limbaugh. At this stage of the game, I’m more concerned about people outside of the conservative bubble who nevertheless think that the wingnuts who turn up on the op-ed page of their local newspaper have credibility. Brock and Fluke have, for all intents and purposes, conquered the whacko from West Palm Beach. Let’s celebrate that win–and go for more victories over the vicious.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.