Ad Time's a Terrible Thing to Waste: Strange But True Twists In Limbaugh Scandal

The continuing exodus of advertisers from the Rush Limbaugh radio show following his vulgar rants about a female law school student is generating many strange twists.

One exodus-related twist is the filling of the air-time ad void on Limbaugh’s program with public service announcements.

Ironically, that void is now being filled by public service announcements from entities Rush loves to hate like the federal Environmental Protection Agency – the entity responsible for regulating the toxic polluters Limbaugh’s always so quick to defend.

One of the stranger twists in having PSAs fill the paid-ad void on Limbaugh’s program is broadcasting PSAs from the United Negro College Fund.

The UNCF is an organization founded originally for financially assisting black students attend college and earn degrees. The UNCF currently aids over 60,000 students who attend 900 higher education institutions nationwide according to its website.

Rush Limbaugh, brought to you by the United Negro College Fund and the Philly Orchestra?Rush Limbaugh, brought to you by the United Negro College Fund and the Philly Orchestra?

Even stranger, the UNCF refuses to remove its PSAs from the Limbaugh radio program, though Limbaugh has built and sustains his bombastic right-wing on-air persona by routinely bashing black people. It doesn’t take a college degree to know that Limbaugh’s listeners are not likely sources of large contributions to the UNCF.

UNCF public service announcements have aired on New York City’s WABC-AM, the flagship of Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated program, according to organizations like Media Matters For America that monitor the show.

A UNCF spokeswoman referred media inquiries about UNCF airing ads on the Limbaugh program to The Advertising Council, a NYC-based entity that assists non-profit organizations and governmental agencies get messages to the American public through the media.

The Council “is handling all media inquiries,” the UNCF spokeswoman said.
But an Ad Council spokeswoman directed an inquiry about the UNCF’s ad airing on Limbaugh’s program back to the UNCF.

That Advertising Council spokeswoman did say, “Neither the United Negro College Fund nor the Ad Council has requested that the UNCF ad be pulled from the Limbaugh show.”

The Ad Council spokeswoman said her organization “can’t predict” where PSAs will be placed, because placement decisions are made by the broadcast stations donating the air time.

However, unlike the UNCF, some non-profits aided by The Advertising Council have asked the Council to pull their PSAs from stations that carry the Limbaugh program.

One of those non-profits is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
And unlike the no-comment posture of the UNCF, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters did respond directly to media inquiries.

That spokeswoman said that Big Brothers Big Sisters made its decision to exit the Limbaugh program “at the request of national and local donors, some of whom made their concerns known via Facebook and Twitter posts,” according to published accounts.

The advertiser exodus from Limbaugh’s show, according to some accounts, now numbers over 100, including BP, GM, Subway and Wal-Mart.

That advertiser rush away from Rush comes in the wake of the imbroglio roiling over Limbaugh’s sexist lashing of law student Susan Fluke, who had courageously testified in Congress against a measure to allow religious-based institutions like schools or hospitals to offer health insurance that did not cover contraceptives .

Limbaugh followed up his three-day verbal assault on Fluke with misogynistic attacks on a female author and two female reporters. Limbaugh later offered a tepid apology for his comments about Fluke.

Limbaugh routinely unleashes racist/sexist rants.

A few odious examples of his regular rants against racial and ethnic minorities include trashing Spanish as a “ghetto” language last November, ridiculing the English-speaking abilities of China’s President in January 2011, equating America’s oldest civil rights organization (the NAACP) with “racism” in July 2010 and dismissing this nation’s obscene genocide against Native Americans in September 2009.

Limbaugh poured more gas on his sexist rant, igniting a firestorm when he recently refuted charges that Republican legislators nationwide are waging a War on Women with new legislation attacking abortion, conception and funding for women’s health.

Limbaugh said Republicans are not at war with women, noting that they marry women, take them to dinner, buy them diamonds and adding that they “open car doors for women.”

While Limbaugh retains First Amendment rights even if for spewing hatred, his racist/sexist rants are ripe for criticism.

Advertisers often buy into Limbaugh’s program not to avidly endorse his daily racist and/or sexist rants but to access his large audience, reportedly the largest in radio.

Advertisers see large audiences as potential purchasers of their products or services.

However, buying into Limbaugh’s ‘large audience’ also fattens his financial coffers, contributing to Limbaugh’s capacity to ooze more verbal slime and constructing Limbaugh’s public perception as a conservative power figure in American society.

A larger problem with the persistence of institutional racism across America extends beyond legions of individuals who practice it actively and/or passively.

That larger problem is the casual acceptance of racism in commerce.

Embracing the racism embedded in commerce is often inadvertent, as appears to be the case with one entity recently departing from advertising on the Limbaugh show: the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra.

Orchestra personnel, when asked recently to respond to a series of questions about advertising with a broadcaster infamous for racism and sexism, issued the following statement:

“As part of a broader media buy supporting our current concert season, The Philadelphia Orchestra made a localized advertising buy which ran the same concert-focused advertisements on a variety of CBS Philly television, radio and online properties. This was not part of a national media buy nor was the buy focused on specific programming. We have requested that our advertisement no longer air during the time slot in which the Rush Limbaugh show airs.”

So, somebody somewhere (outside the Orchestra according to the inference in that statement) made a decision to slot the Orchestra’s non-program-specific media buy specifically on the Limbaugh show.

Until the public outrage spotlight shined on Limbaugh, Orchestra management didn’t see a sour note in advertising with Limbaugh.

Despite indignant denials by Limbaugh, his confederates and others on all sides of the U.S. partisan divide, racism (institutional-&-individual) remains malignant across the American landscape, despite centuries of multi-racial efforts to remove it.

The Philadelphia Orchestra, certainly no bastion of bigotry, draws criticism locally for its alleged lack of diversity on its administrative staff and its board of directors.

After years of prodding to improve diversity and promises to do so, the Orchestra’s staff and board still does not reflect the demographic that nearly 60 percent of Philadelphia’s population is non-white.

There are seven African Americans on the Orchestra’s 64 member staff according to data supplied by the Orchestra. And, there are six African Americans and one Asian American on the Orchestra’s 67 member board of directors.

Overt bigotry is not limited to Limbaugh. Critics contend that many conservatives also unleash not-so-covert assaults against women and non-whites.

Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett, for example, recently defended legislation proposed in Pennsylvania requiring ultrasound scans for women seeking abortions by cavalierly saying woman who find the proposed measure distasteful can just “close [their] eyes.”

The assault by conservative legislators nationwide on issues of importance to women has ignited a new wave of activism among women, and particularly among young women.

Gov. Corbett, who continues his second-year of slashing funding for public schools and social services in Pennsylvania by claiming state government lacks money, backs a pending Voter ID measure that requires state government to spend over $7-million to implement its restrictions.

Yet evidence of vote fraud in Pennsylvania is virtually non-existent as it is in other states where Republicans have rammed through harsh restrictions on voting.

The lack of massive voter fraud validates charges by critics that Republicans are enacting restrictions as part of a national strategy of voter suppression measures aimed at non-whites, the elderly, the poor and college students–all groups who normally vote for Democrats, particularly in presidential elections.

As respected London, England activist Selma James warned during a recent event in Philadelphia honoring her decades of work, says, “We are fighting not only for a better future, but for a future.”