After Rush Limbaugh called birth control advocate Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" and demanded she make a sex tape for the American people in exchange for insurance-subsidized birth control, disgusted members of the general public began demanding companies that advertise on Limbaugh's show distance themselves from the human embodiment of the GOP id. And advertisers listened. So far, nine companies have flown Limbaugh's turkey coop. And the pile-on doesn't stop there.
Rush Limbaugh spent last week lustily fucking himself dry as he first called Fluke misogynist names on the air, then doubled down on those names, and then, in a fit of pants-peeing terror, issued the worst apology in the history of the world. America, Rush is very sorry for his word choice and he didn't mean for it to be a personal attack on Sandra Fluke, which sort of sounded like a remixed cover version of Senator Jon Kyl's "not intended to be a factual statement," but with 75% more assiness. You sure can learn a lot about what Republicans really mean by asking what they don't intend.
Not wanting to be associated with a man who goes around calling accomplished, smart women half his age whores, sponsors began fleeing at the end of last week, starting with two mattress companies— Sleep Number and Sleep Train. The Great Limbaugh Exodus continued through the weekend, as Quicken Loans abandoned ship, as did Citrix Systems, Carbonite, ProFlowers, and Legal Zoom. Today, AOL and Tax Resolution Services announced that they were severing ties as well.
But advertisers aren't the only ones backing away from Limbaugh; judging by the level of public vitriol in response to this incident, it seems like a lot of people have wanted to have an excuse to bash him publicly for a long time. Even other assholes don't like him anymore! Don Imus, the guy who is most recently well-known for referring to the Rutger's women's basketball team as "nappy headed hoes" and "jigaboos," called Limbaugh an "insincere pig" and encouraged him to get on his private jet, fly to Washington, and offer an actual sincere apology to Fluke's face rather than the shitty, self-aggrandizing one he issued on his website. Everyone from John McCain to a Catholic Cardinal have condemned Limbaugh's floppy fauxpology. Fluke's not fooled, either. Today, on The View, she pointed out to the hosts that he apologized for word choice, not for being a bag of dicks.
And now he's gone and made Peter Gabriel mad, too. The musician was reportedly upset to learn that one of his songs was playing in the background of Limbaugh's initial Fluke-related screed and has demanded that it no longer be played during the show.
In spite of all this, Clear Channel, Limbaugh's biggest sponsor, issued a statement yesterday supporting the host, saying, "The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue. We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions." (Related: here's how you can find out what stations in your area are owned by Clear Channel, in case you want to tune them out.)
It may seem like this attention is what Limbaugh was after — he's a professional troll, after all, making a living throwing tantrums so that the flaccid men tuning in can feel vicariously important and vital. But just because Limbaugh may not believe everything that comes out of his mouth doesn't mean that he's not doing real harm. People who listen to him internalize what he says, and as long as advertisers are willing to commit money to advertising on a political program wherein the host calls women "sluts" without consequences, listeners will believe that they, too, should be able to echo what Limbaugh says without consequences. Freedom of speech is not freedom from reaction, and constructive reaction like the kind we've seen in response to Limbaugh is what gets national conversation moving in a more positive, constructive direction.
At any rate, if Limbaugh doesn't keep opening his mouth and screwing himself, he's going to end gaffeing himself out of house and home. If you're keeping score at home, add "how public opinion sways advertisers" to the ever-growing list of "Things Rush Limbaugh Doesn't Understand." Pencil it in right under "birth control."
UPDATE: Bonobos, Sears, and AllState Insurance have announced this afternoon that they're dropping Limbaugh as well, bringing the grand total from 9 to 12.