Live by the Freak Out, Die by the Freak Out

Over the weekend, the news got out that 98 advertisers have dropped not only Rush Limbaugh, but the rest of the right-wing radio crowd:

They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or 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). Those are defined as environments likely to stir negative sentiment from a very small percentage of the listening public.

The list of advertisers includes companies like GM, McDonald’s and State Farm who weren’t named sponsors of any of those shows, but whose ad network buys might have aired during those programs. As Media Matters has documented, Rush’s flagship station, WABC in New York, has mainly been airing public service announcements because of lack of advertisers.

Bill Maher got upset about the treatment Limbaugh’s been getting, saying it’s a free speech issue, but come on: Rush and the rest of the right-wing radio crowd aren’t being denied the right to speak. Instead, the twenty-five year fantasy that right-wing radio is a mainstream American phenomenon is finally ending now that radio hosts have decided to lead the fight against contraception, and when you’re no longer in the mainstream, you can’t attract mainstream advertisers.

Anyone who’s ever subscribed to Mother Jones is familiar with this phenomenon. I don’t subscribe now, but unless things have changed radically, McDonald’s, GM and the rest aren’t advertising there, for a simple reason: what Mother Jones prints is offensive to too many GM customers, not to mention GM itself. Mother Jones is financed by a mix of donations, grants and advertising from companies whose products are pitched directly at people with progressive values (like social investment firms). Similarly, Rush and the rest are going to have to re-tool with advertisers who cater to the 27%. Apparently this group is profitable for companies selling tinnitus cures and gold. Rush might not be able to make $50 million/year and fly around in a private jet by hawking quack remedies and begging the Koch brothers for donations, but he’ll no doubt be able to make a living.

Maher can quit being worried about Rush and his buddies for two more reasons. First, if anyone believes in letting the free market do its business in an unfettered fashion, it’s this crew, so they’re getting a dose of their own medicine. Second, the right loves to boycott just as much as any other interest group, even though they haven’t been very successful lately.

104 replies
  1. 1
    iLarynx says:

    $50 million? Try $400 million:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....baugh.html

  2. 2

    Isn’t this lovely? I saw something about this and it looks like really wonderful news all around.

    Now, after we get through with our [well deserved] happy dance, perhaps we should look at how this happened. We The People are fighting something very big and very powerful and we’re having an effect.

    There are lessons to be learned. Yes, you can learn from success.

    Is there an analyst in the house?

  3. 3
    dr. bloor says:

    Every now and again Bill Maher says something unfathomably stupid to remind me why I generally pay so little attention to him. Thanks, Bill!

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    I agree that the free speech argument is a red herring. Limbaugh et. al. are thugs, coming at you with razors and brass knuckles in a blind alley– you are permitted to defend yourself in any way that works.

  5. 5
    mistermix says:

    @iLarynx: 8 year $400 million contract = $50 million/year – I edited the post to make that clear.

  6. 6
    PIGL says:

    If Bill Maher thinks that the response to Rush Limbaugh is an offense against freedom of speech he is an idiot. End of story.

  7. 7
    MosesZD says:

    Free speech includes being quiet, Bill. Rush can still be the vomitious jerk he is. Nobody is censoring him in the slightest.

    And GM, Carbonite, et. al., can still advertise. Nobody is forcing them to not advertise.

    It just the two things aren’t necessarily tied together. That is, GM, Carbonite, etc. can advertise somewhere else if they decided the negatives of the show they’re advertising with are too great.

  8. 8
    Schlemizel says:

    In Maher’s case he is worried about his own ox being gored. He lost one sweet gig because he spoke the truth about the 9/11 hijackers compared to remote missile strikes. He knows full well it could happen again.

    Billy has lots of problems, his unexamined racism, his sad misogyny are probably the largest. That he often hits the nail on the head and in general falls on the liberal side of things is great but we can’t use him as a bell weather for anything.

  9. 9
    marcopolo says:

    I’m willing to entertain the belief that Maher said was he said to try to inoculate himself from folks on the right going after him in retaliation for the boycott of Rush. That being said, and I don’t think if that is what Maher is doing he will be successful, it is a stupid argument.

  10. 10
    Bob2 says:

    Repubs complain about liberals insulting women too.
    Points to libertarian Bill Maher.

    http://sullivanarchives.theatl.....#200208199

    Sullivan’s obviously changed his mind in 9 years, but it’s insightful to remember what he thought about the Dixie Chicks boycott.

    “A REAL CHILL: There’s been a huge amount of phony posturing by some people – Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, the Dixie Chicks, et al. – about how their free speech has been trampled by robust criticism and even boycotts. That’s hooey. The government hasn’t touched them; and, of course, shouldn’t. But it’s perfectly legit for other citizens to speak out, boycott, blog, and so on.”

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    this isn’t about free speech

    it’s about the free market

  12. 12
    Narcissus says:

    It’s a free screech issue

    dustin diamond has a lot of time on his hands these days

  13. 13
    Bob2 says:

    Btw, BalloonJuice really killed it this weekend and I suggest people go back and read Friday to Sunday posts.

  14. 14
    New Yorker says:

    It’s nice to have Bill Maher as an outspoken opponent of religion, but the guy can be a total douchebag sometimes, including the offensive things he said about Sarah Palin (one can note that Palin is proudly ignorant, hateful, vindictive, and delusional without resorting to the c-word).

  15. 15
    Suffern ACE says:

    As for me, if advertisers pull out from a show the next time one of their hosts calls someone a slut on the air, I’m not gonna cry about it.

  16. 16
    Kirbster says:

    I’m pleased with the progress of the domestic boycott, but disheartened by the response of American Forces Network to requests to drop Limbaugh’s show.

    It must be discouraging for diplomats and generals to try and sell the official line of US democracy, equality, and international friendship in places like Afghanistan when Rush delivers the message every day that America is a hateful, bigoted, debased culture of sexual perverts who hate their own government. Throw in a few intentional and unintentional massacres of cilivians and some corpse desecration, and you can hardly blame the average Afghani citizen for concluding that the mullahs and imams are alsolutely right: Americans really are barbarians.

  17. 17
    New Yorker says:

    Also, is this a sign that just maybe, there is a limit to the amount of money to be made in repeating far-right boilerplate? Lord knows in my less scrupulous moments, I’ve wondered why I never bothered to make money as a right-wing blowhard, considering how easy it seems.

  18. 18
    Rathskeller says:

    Man, we are entering a new era if being a right wing shock jock is not profitable. Amazing.

  19. 19
    cmorenc says:

    @dr. bloor:

    Every now and again Bill Maher says something unfathomably stupid to remind me why I generally pay so little attention to him.

    Yes. Who needs Bill Maher anyway, especially when we have the much more insightful, far wittier and more entertaining John Stewart and Steven Colbert? Wasn’t Maher one of the geniuses back in 2000 who backed Nader because there really wasn’t enough significant difference between Bush and Gore, the Dems and the Republicans?

  20. 20
    Suffern ACE says:

    @New Yorker – ditto.

  21. 21
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    Similarly, Rush and the rest are going to have to re-tool with advertisers who cater to the 27%. Apparently this group is profitable for companies selling tinnitus cures and gold. Rush might not be able to make $50 million/year and fly around in a private jet by hawking quack remedies and begging the Koch brothers for donations, but he’ll no doubt be able to make a living.

    Yeah, this. I worked for a winger-oriented company once. A lot of smart young liberal-to-libertarian recent college grads, cranking out direct mail to whoop up old cranks about Canadian mining stocks and h3rb4l b0n3r nostrums. It was a fun and reasonably lucrative way to make a living that I only lose a little sleep over, but not the kind of money you need to power an influential nationwide movement like Rush et al. are doing right now.

  22. 22
    Donald G says:

    @Schlemizel:

    In Maher’s case he is worried about his own ox being gored. He lost one sweet gig because he spoke the truth about the 9/11 hijackers compared to remote missile strikes. He knows full well it could happen again.

    Maher’s current show is on HBO. HBO doesn’t accept outside advertising, so he’s insulated from the effects of a boycott.

    After 2001/2002 and his loss of “Politically Incorrect” on ABC, what are the odds that Maher would put himself in the position of being at the whims of commercial pressures?

    While there are valid arguments to be made that the discussion of ideas should be free from such crass commercial concerns, that is neither the broadcast landscape in which Rush operates nor one which free-marketeers champion.

    If Rush wishes to avoid the winnowing effect of the marketplace, he is perfectly free to retool his show for non-commercial venues like public radio (but that’s a bastion of soshulism) or for (local) community access cable television or low powered community radio.

  23. 23
    Joe Bohemouth says:

    @New Yorker:

    It’s nice to have Bill Maher as an outspoken opponent of religion, but the guy can be a total douchebag sometimes,

    I’m a big atheist, but I walked out of Religulous. The point seemed to be “Jews and Christians are crazy, Muslims want to roast your babies alive and eat them.” Maher is basically a winger who happens to love gay abortion.

  24. 24
    Donald G says:

    D’oh! I’m in moderation for using the s-word that contains the name of an ED medication. So, I’m reposting with a “correction” to get around the moderation filter.
    **

    Maher’s current show is on HBO. HBO doesn’t accept outside advertising, so he’s insulated from the effects of a boycott.

    After 2001/2002 and his loss of “Politically Incorrect” on ABC, what are the odds that Maher would put himself in the position of being at the whims of commercial pressures?

    While there are valid arguments to be made that the discussion of ideas should be free from such crass commercial concerns, that is neither the broadcast landscape in which Rush operates nor one which free-marketeers champion.

    If Rush wishes to avoid the winnowing effect of the marketplace, he is perfectly free to retool his show for non-commercial venues like public radio (but that’s a bastion of soshulism) or for (local) community access cable television or low powered community radio.

  25. 25
    Scott says:

    The failure of the wingnut boycott against Penney’s was pretty sweet, but I must admit I enjoyed them shooting themselves in the foot over Archie Comics a hell of a lot more.

  26. 26
    Dork says:

    OT:

    Anyone see Santorum on Today Show today? Dear God did he look sickly. Sweating profusely down his neck and face, all shiny and beady. As mom says, looked like death warmed over. Either he’s about to be hospitalized for exhaustion or the interview room was 114F.

  27. 27
    samara morgan says:

    Check this out mixie.
    Nine children.

  28. 28
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    i have no problem with taking rush limbaugh’s lunch money.

    maher does have a point in the larger sense, people some how have given themselves, and the people they see themselves as, the right to not be offended. its really not a problem that solves with a gesture of turning the other cheek. you have to decide if you want to be, in terms of his profession, leno or or chapelle.

    this is why it would be hilarious if soros bucks could show the limbaugh audience just how deeply convicted limbaugh is to the conservative cause.

  29. 29
    cathyx says:

    Rush should do what Dr. Laura did and move to satellite radio.
    There he can say whatever he wants and people can pay to hear him.

  30. 30
    harlana says:

    Maher can stuff it. apparently he believes in false equivalancies and is completely against the Free Market at Work. socialist to the core.

    what about the shootings in Afghanistan?

  31. 31
    rdldot says:

    Maher is wrong, of course. This has nothing to do with free speech. Rush gets paid to talk. If his advertizers no longer wish to pay him for what he says, that is their prerogative. Both Rush and Bill understand this when it applies to everyone else. If either one of them want to run down to the end of the street and hold a sign, they are free to do so. No one has to pay them to do it.

  32. 32
    butler says:

    Bill Maher got upset about the treatment Limbaugh’s been getting, saying it’s a free speech issue,

    No, its not. Everyone has the right to free speech, but no one has the right to paid speech. Rush is free to say whatever he likes, just as I’m free to forego patronizing any business that would choose to pay him for his thoughts. Isn’t that the power of the free market conservatives are always praising?

  33. 33
    MosesZD says:

    @cmorenc:

    Maher is also an anti-vax crank. Or as Orac so brilliantly summed it up a few years ago in this opening paragraph: http://tinyurl.com/7z374nk

    Last week, I expressed my surprise and dismay that the Atheist Alliance International chose Bill Maher for the Richard Dawkins Award. I was dismayed because Maher has championed pseudoscience, including dangerous antivaccine nonsense, germ theory denialism complete with repeating myths about Louis Pasteur supposedly recanting on his deathbed, a hostility towards “Western medicine” and an affinity for “alternative medicine,” a history of sympathy to HIV/AIDS denialists, and the activities of PETA through his position on its board of directors, all facts that led me to liken his receiving the Richard Dawkins Award to giving an award for public health to Jenny McCarthy. I was not alone, either. Larry Moran, Matt D., and Skepacabra agreed with me.

    Personally, I don’t pay attention to Maher. Sure, he’s a thorn in the side of religious power. But he’s a fucking libertarian, pseudo-science woo-crank as well. And the harm from the later is, in my book, far greater than the positives of the former.

  34. 34
    Jon O says:

    @Marcellus Shale, Public Dick: I don’t think we’re talking about a right not to be offended. After all, Fox News isn’t going anywhere. What we’re talking about isn’t a free speech issue. Rush has the right to say whatever he wants – but he doesn’t have the right to get paid for it. Citizen boycotts are one of the few ways we have of exerting bottom-up pressure on advertisers and radio stations. I may not have the same power to speak out against Rush that, say, Mitt Romney’s Clear Channel does, but I’m not going to give up my rights to vote with my dollars because it gives Bill Maher the vapors.

  35. 35
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Dork: Maybe Red Auerbach prepped the green room?

  36. 36
    Steve says:

    The really funny part is that Instapundit is basically declaring victory for the right wing on the whole debacle. I’m not even joking.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    Waldo says:

    As A.J. Liebling said: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

    In Rush’s case, all he needs to do is invest in a few strategically placed 50,000-watt transmitters and, voila, he’s free to say whatever wants. America is great that way.

  39. 39
    gnomedad says:

    @Waldo:

    In Rush’s case, all he needs to do is invest in a few strategically placed 50,000-watt transmitters and, voila, he’s free to say whatever wants. America is great that way.

    He’s rich enough to do that if his “message” were what mattered to him. But it’s not – it’s just a path to prestige and money that ain’t working as well as it used to.

  40. 40
    Captain Howdy says:

    I have to stray from the fold to say I’m with Maher on this. It is a free speech issue, at least in the general sense of the term. We all get a nice warm feeling when Rush Blowhard takes one on the chins, comeuppance and so on. But do we really want our blowhards — whether it’s Limbo or Maher or whoever — to check their speech ? I didn’t like it when the winged monkeys screwed the Dixie Chicks (forcing an apology) or when Maher was bullied off ABC for making the rather sensible observation that the 9-11 hijackers were not in fact cowards. The boycotts — especially in the era of social media — is not some reasonable, market-driven response to hateful speech. It a nasty dirk that cuts both ways and will eventually cut down a progressive voice. Yes, it is a free speech issue and if you believe that’s an issue worth fighting for the test is when you have to defend some goon’s stupid words.

  41. 41
    maus says:

    Privilege: thinking you have the “right” to tell others what THEY have the right to be upset by.

  42. 42
    maus says:

    Our consumer power is one of the only true powers we weild in this sad fucking world. Speech without consequences is the GOP, anyone who argues with this is anticapitalist. It’s sad how you’ve internalized your own powerlessness.

  43. 43
    redshirt says:

    Wingnut mindset: Whenever I can’t do anything I want or suffer the consequences of my actions, my FREEDOM is under attack. From a “strict Constitutionalist” perspective now mind you.

  44. 44
    kc says:

    It sounds like these advertisers were happy to have a reason to bail.

  45. 45
    RSA says:

    Second, the right loves to boycott just as much as any other interest group, even though they haven’t been very successful lately.

    Limbaugh himself called for a boycott of GM products a couple of years ago. Live by the boycott, die by the boycott.

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    Bill Maher got upset about the treatment Limbaugh’s been getting, saying it’s a free speech issue

    Dear Bill Maher, Dear Rush Limbaugh:

    Everyone in this country, yourselves included, has an absolute right to free speech with very few caveats. (Though as the “Ground Zero Mosque” and WBC protests controversies demonstrate, it’s not always clear if you guys actually understand that).

    You do NOT have a right to not face any consequences for your free speech, e.g. people calling you a disgusting sack of shit if you choose to behave like one.

    You do NOT have a right to a media-provided platform from which to spout your bullshit: whether or not you’ll get one is between you and them.

    You do NOT have a right to have said platform sponsored by private donors: whether or not they’ll give you money is between you and them.

    I’m sorry that you’re facing consequences for your actions for the first time in your life, but no, the constitution isn’t a magic word for “whatever I want, I get,” no matter how much you might wish it to be.

  47. 47
    Nutella says:

    if anyone believes in letting the free market do its business in an unfettered fashion, it’s this crew, so they’re getting a dose of their own medicine

    Heh. They don’t believe in letting the free market be free and they never have. They believe in and have constructed a market that hugely favors the rich and just use the idea of a free market as a club when any of the little guys complain about the effects of the actual market on the general population or the environment.

    ‘They’ here includes Maher, Limbaugh, the rest of the 1%. and their deluded followers.

  48. 48
    aimai says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    As for the Dixie Chicks: They didn’t check their speech. And they paid the price (in a way) and found a new audience. Its a complete false equivalence. If Limbaugh really wants to stand by what he said he is absolutely free to do so. In fact, he is way less obligated to shut up than the average worker on the street who doesn’t have a microphone and 50 million a year. How much money does Limbaugh require to speak truth to power? I do it for nothing every fucking day.

    aimai

  49. 49
    Someguy says:

    This is good. With a little luck their voices – at least on the radio – can be silenced for good. So much for the mightly Wurlitzer…

  50. 50
    Jennifer says:

    Meh. Maher is wrong, of course, but then he’s like everyone else in the world who I don’t agree with 100% of the time.

    I think his error is in comparing his situation to Rush’s in the first place. Maher lost his ABC show not as a result of pressure from sponsors, but due to a not-so-veiled threat from an employee of the Executive Branch, which made his ABC employers nervous. Unlike Rush, Maher made a real apology and his show got cancelled anyway.

    Even if the situations were more analogous, they still would be vastly different. Maher said something once on the public airwaves that offended some people and lost his show thanks to it; plus the aforementioned interference of a federal government employee; Rush has been saying offensive things over the public airwaves for 25 YEARS with no interference from anyone in government. And he still isn’t facing any infringement of his “speech” from the government, but from private companies who have apparently decided that 25 years of supporting an offensive radio host is enough.

  51. 51
    Culture of Truth says:

    Also absurd was Kinsely et al’s concern that “what if the GOP boycott’s MSNBC? Is that what you fascists want??” as if there was some low level winguts are willing to sink to but are only awaiting permission from the Left first. LOL

  52. 52
    Schlemizel says:

    @Donald G:
    So you don’t think HBO would drop him like a hot potato if people brought enough pressure on them? It would be harder to organize but if thousands of subscribers started cutting the service they’d fold.

    In Mahers mind Mush is one of the club & you have to protect the club so the club will protect you. That was my point.

  53. 53
    New Yorker says:

    @Chris:

    Bingo.

    BTW, I have an MBA with a concentration in marketing. Those screaming “help! help! I’m being repressed!” should take a fucking course in branding so they can figure out why a company like GM might not want to damage their brand reputation and cost themselves billions (the value of brand equity is estimated on balance sheets) by associating with Rush Limbaugh. This is a prudent business decision, and thank Zeus that we have the free market where GM can make these decisions. Forcing them to make decisions that would not be in the best interest of their business is soshulism.

  54. 54
    Jimbo says:

    Mr. Maher – Is 100% correct, it *is* a free speech issue. The difference is customers and advertisers have just as much right to that speech as does Mr. Limbaugh. If I choose not to support a company that spends its ad budget on an odious program, and enough people agree with me that it comes to the company’s attention, why that’s pretty much free speech AND The free market at it’s finest!

  55. 55
    Donald G says:

    Free Speech is not the same as “Free Slander”.

    Free speech is a right, but does not give one the right to slander freely and without consequences, whether those consequences come in the form of legal fees or in the form of the loss of commercial revenue.

    Clear Channel and Premiere Radio Networks cannot hold a gun to businesses’ heads and force them to advertise on Rush’s show should they make the decision to cease advertising.

    As we’ve learned over the last several years (and if I may be forbidden the use of the rhetorical style of one of our more obnoxious trolls): Money is speech and corporations are people, my friend. The more money you have, the more of a person you are and the more free speech you can afford. Collectively, the advertisers, with their UNLIMITED CORPORATE CASH, have greater free speech rights than Limbaugh, and thus, the corporatist/capitalist pig is hoist by his own worldview. VICTORY!

    The Soshulist public radio ghetto, free from commercial considerations, is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it, Rush?

  56. 56
    harlana says:

    @samara morgan: at least my conscience is clear as an individual, but i wish there was some vehicle on the internets whereby i, and other individuals, could express my mutual horror, disgust and shame and let them know, i never wanted any of this!

  57. 57
    Suffern ACE says:

    @culture of truth- yes. Because if theres one thing that “silent majority” knows, its how to shut up. Tell me again why that American Muslim reality show got pulled from broadcast again?

  58. 58
    harlana says:

    @Chris: right on – i’m sorry Maher, being a “show-biz” guy, ought to understand his industry a little better (this is supposed to be the smartest guy in the room, right?) and stop whining and, i’m sure, blaming libs – i’m guessing that’s why he’s making such a fuss

    also, if he IS a true libertarian, then he REALLY needs to stfu

  59. 59
    JoyfulA says:

    @Dork: Maybe that’s why Today Show was trending on Twitter? I was wondering.

  60. 60
    Donald G says:

    @Schlemizel:

    So you don’t think HBO would drop him like a hot potato if people brought enough pressure on them? It would be harder to organize but if thousands of subscribers started cutting the service they’d fold.

    I think the issue is largely irrelevant as I don’t think a campaign to get HBO subscribers to cancel their subscriptions solely on the basis of opposition to the attitudes or statements of Bill Maher would work.

    Maher has found the nearest thing he has to a safe harbor in the media landscape. I think that he’s much more likely not to have his relationship renewed at HBO due to a change in leadership at HBO than commercial pressure brought about by an unlikely subscriber boycott.

    But, then again, I don’t subscribe to HBO or any other cable or satellite service.

  61. 61
    samara morgan says:

    @harlana: where….here?
    lol, the entire old harpy patrol from AL to Em Hauser to aimai thinks we should leave BUT those jihaadis are sure awful to thier women. i betcha this WHOLE BLOG thinks we are there “promoting democracy” and womens rights, lol. We have no bidness there schooling those jihaadis on how to treat their women.
    because we treat women so well here.
    and besides, it never works. we are getting another asswhupping in A-stan, just like Iraq.
    /spit

  62. 62
    mattlove1 (@mattlove1) says:

    “Wasn’t Maher one of the geniuses back in 2000 who backed Nader because there really wasn’t enough significant difference between Bush and Gore, the Dems and the Republicans?” Was he? Well good on him, I thought he was pretty much a total asshole, but this raises his stock considerably in my book, because he pretty much got that one right.

  63. 63
    Mnemosyne says:

    @samara morgan:
    @harlana:

    You may have missed it, but Soonergrunt had some early discussion and commentary about it this weekend. I’m sure there will be another post once more information is available.

  64. 64
    samara morgan says:

    @Mnemosyne: this blog has had 27 posts on slutgate and ONE post on nine dead afghan children.
    you are part of the BJ Old Harpy Patrol too.

  65. 65
  66. 66
    Captain Howdy says:

    @aimai (Sorry, the reply function ain’t working).

    The Dixie Chicks didn’t check their speech? They went groveling with an abject apology to Preznit Douche. That was the least of it: sponsors fled, the Red Cross wouldn’t associate with them, and they suffered no end of other indignities.

    What I don’t understand is why people on the left are cheering this on. This is not a positive development in public discourse, unless you’re buying the Village happy horseshit about “civility.”

  67. 67
    feebog says:

    Jeebus this is sad. I would think that most of the commentors on this site would actually understand the first amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Get that, CONGRESS shall make no law. The first amendment is a prohibition against GOVERNMENT infringing on your rigght to free speech. Look, as I pointed out on my facebook page last week, Rush Limbaugh is free to say anthing he wants on his radio show. And I am free to contact his advertisers, tell them he has crossed the line, and that I won’t buy their products if they continue to advertise on his show. Neither action is an abridgement of free speech, because neither Rush nor I are the GOVERNMENT.

    Fucking First Amendment, how does it work?

  68. 68
    harlana says:

    @Mnemosyne: thanks – although i did look, apparently i missed it – quite frankly, did not find out of about it until this morning, i was out of it the latter part of the weekend.

  69. 69
    muddy says:

    I think Bill Maher just wants to be a contrarian, just for contrary’s sake. It’s a knee-jerk to him.

  70. 70
    Nicole says:

    Many things about Maher infuriate me (though I confess I watch because the “New Rules” usually make me laugh at least once), but this one really had me yelling at the screen. Not only for the complete lack of understanding about what free speech and censorship is, but also because of the refusal to understand that there is a vast ocean of difference between saying you’re embarrassed a public figure claims your home state as his own (in the case of the Dixie Chicks), or, in his case, saying that you could accuse the 9/11 hijackers of a lot of things, but cowardice wasn’t one of them, and waging a 3-day, sexually harrassing attack on a private citizen, saying allegations about the person that could be potentially career-damaging, and are utterly untrue to boot.

    And of course, people were within their rights to boycott the Dixie Chicks. On the bright side in their case, as someone mentioned upthread, they gained new fans, and put out a really, really good album afterwards. Somehow, I don’t think Limbaugh is going to come up with anything as commercially appealing as Taking the Long Way in the wake of this.

    Which reminds me, when the video for “Not Ready to Make Nice” was out, it broke records on VH-1 for number of weeks at #1 on their video countdown. I always thought the support for it was a big f*ck you from the viewers to Bush (since viewers voted on the video positions). If protesting something by withholding support is a boycott, maybe this outpouring of support was a girlcott. ;)

  71. 71
    muddy says:

    @samara morgan: This is a blog, not a newspaper.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    @samara morgan:

    Aww, am I an old harpy now because I find your posts repetitive and dull? Or is it because I said I found your glee at the prospect of NGO workers being slaughtered in retaliation to be disgusting?

  73. 73
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    So who would have though offending every woman and her father in America was a bad move?

  74. 74
    harlana says:

    @samara morgan: and this is not even the tip of the iceberg as far as American atrocities in the ME

    soldier snapped b/c he had PTSD? REALLY? hmm, can’t imagine how/why that woulda/coulda happened, we’ve only been there 11 years, after all.

    no one could have predicted . . .

  75. 75
    samara morgan says:

    @Mnemosyne: im not happy.
    im pragmatic and truthful.
    im saying what will happen in that scenario where Israel strikes Iran without warning America.
    and you cant admit that because chu doan liek meh.
    ;)

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    @samara morgan:

    im not happy.
    im pragmatic and truthful.

    Sorry, no. You are thrilled and excited at the prospect of innocent people being slaughtered in Afghanistan out of revenge, and that glee comes through every time you talk about it. Which is probably why I don’t like you. People who happily look forward to the slaughter of innocent people creep me out.

  77. 77
    samara morgan says:

    @harlana: the difference is NINE DEAD CHILDREN. tipping point.
    and even that uberwimp Sully has the nads to discuss it.

  78. 78
    samara morgan says:

    @Mnemosyne: what the fuck are you talking about…you know NOTHING about me.
    you get that from the internet?
    what i get from your comboxes is that you are stupid.

  79. 79
    samara morgan says:

    @muddy: my point zactly.
    27 posts on slutgate and one on nine dead afghan children.

  80. 80
    GregB says:

    If anyone has a problem with the lack of posts on a particular subject, may I recommend starting your own effing blog?

    Because then you can discuss whatever your heart desires and you can spare the rest of us the pious lectures about content.

  81. 81
    The Other Chuck says:

    Free speech my ass. Rush Limbaugh is still free to say what he wants, and can now make as much of a profit off his rantings as I do.

  82. 82
    different-church-lady says:

    McDonald’s, GM and the rest aren’t advertising there, for a simple reason: what Mother Jones prints is offensive to too many GM customers, not to mention GM itself.

    I think you’ve got it backwards — it’s not how GM or GM’s customers feel about Mother Jones, it’s about how Mother Jone’s readers feel about companies like GM or McDonalds. At the least they’re not likely to be customers, and at the worst they’re going to be downright hostile to the product and the company. Why waste your ad dollars there?

  83. 83
    Bob2 says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    Umm, did you even read your own link and the apology?
    It ONLY apologized for being disrespectful to Bush.
    She did not take any of her other criticism back.

    and citing the Red Cross? official response.

    “According to National Red Cross spokesperson Julie Thurmond Whitmer, the band would have made the donation “only if the American Red Cross would embrace the band’s [2003] summer tour”.[64] Whitmer further said:
    The Dixie Chicks controversy made it impossible for the American Red Cross to associate itself with the band because such association would have violated two of the founding principles of the organization: impartiality and neutrality … Should the Dixie Chicks like to make an unconditional financial donation to the American Red Cross, we will gladly accept”

    You are intentionally mischaracterizing what happened.

    It’s kind of an apples to oranges comparison in some respects. They did not slander Bush, whereas you could make a good case that Limbaugh broke civil law here.

    Also, their ex-fans had a right to boycott the Dixie Chicks and I’d stand by their right to boycott them. I mean…all it really did in the end was prove them right in the long run. It takes real courage to stand by your criticisms, and that’s what they did.

  84. 84
    slag says:

    Obviously, this is more of a “paid speech” issue. Rush can still speak freely; he just might not get paid for it, for a change.

  85. 85
    muddy says:

    @samara morgan: How is that your point? wtf

    The point is, this is a blog, where people write about what they feel like writing about from moment to moment. There is no rule so far as I am aware, that certain topics must be covered and in what amount of fullness. These are your desired topics and coverage, write your own fking blog if you don’t like this one. I have not been commenting much here until recently, but I was a lurker for a long time and am familiar with your posts here. I don’t know what you do elsewhere, and don’t care.

    Every once in a while you say things that I find very insightful, so I don’t totally skim you like some posters I won’t name, but the vast majority of your posts are just bitching that people are not saying what you want them to say when you want them to say it. You’re not the boss of the intertubes, nor of this blog.

    It also might be that some might wait for full discussion on a horrifying topic until they have more information.

  86. 86
    samara morgan says:

    @muddy: you don’t think its insightful to point out that people here would rather talk about slutgate than about moar atrocities?
    i think that is pretty insightful, myself.

    and there is plenty of information.
    ;)

  87. 87
    Steve says:

    I think the argument is that if progressives refrain from boycotting Rush, somehow the awesome purity of their free speech principles will prevent conservatives from boycotting the Dixie Chicks the next time around. Unfortunately, to state the argument is to refute it.

    By the way, partisan boycotts rarely accomplish much unless they have resonance with the mainstream as well. Consider the AFA’s attempt to boycott JC Penney because of Ellen, which was a complete fail. By contrast, Rush’s comments were offensive not just to liberals, but to pretty much everyone who’s not a Rush fan. The Komen backlash was a big deal not just because it got liberals riled up, but because it got a lot of other people upset too.

    The Dixie Chicks were actually kind of a special case because they were selling their product in a conservative market.

  88. 88
    Daaling says:

    That’s why I don’t have anything good to say about Maher. Not only do I think he is a pretentious douche, but he has come out on the wrong side of things far too often.

    I do like some of the jokes but that is all about his writers. I don’t think he writes any of them. He’s not that funny. Fuck him. That is all!

  89. 89
    danielx says:

    @Chris:

    This. Two thumbs way up…

    Rush et al loves them some free market – until the free market doesn’t love them. If they spout offensive bullshit to the point where mainstream advertisers perceive that advertising on their programs is impeding their corporate goal (making money) rather than aiding it, that advertising will cease. Nobody is saying Rush or Maher either can’t say whatever they want, offensive though their words may be to few or many.

    They have a right to free speech. They don’t have a right to profit from exercising that right, any more than any other enterprise has a right to make a profit.

  90. 90
    Catsy says:

    @Captain Howdy:

    I have to stray from the fold to say I’m with Maher on this. It is a free speech issue, at least in the general sense of the term.

    Horseshit. It is a “free speech” issue only if you remove the words “free” and “speech” completely from their legal and constitutional context and treat them as individual words to be defined. Without that context, sure: these boycotts are impinging upon Limbaugh’s ability to engage in speech, free of any kind of consequences or social opprobrium. But even in the “general” sense of “free speech” within an American legal context, this ain’t it.

    I didn’t like it when the winged monkeys screwed the Dixie Chicks (forcing an apology) or when Maher was bullied off ABC for making the rather sensible observation that the 9-11 hijackers were not in fact cowards.

    Neither did I, but those didn’t have anything to do with “free speech” either.

    The boycotts—especially in the era of social media—is not some reasonable, market-driven response to hateful speech. It a nasty dirk that cuts both ways and will eventually cut down a progressive voice.

    This is ignorant, revisionist pearl-clutching. These boycotts are a prime example of a change in corporate behavior driven by market forces: in this case, vocal customer feedback.

    That power used to be primarily wielded by wingnuts, who have traditionally been better at motivating their core base to apply market pressure. Social media is nothing more than a force multiplier that happens to play to progressive strengths in a way that helps level the playing field.

    Yes, it is a free speech issue and if you believe that’s an issue worth fighting for the test is when you have to defend some goon’s stupid words.

    You do not appear to understand how “free speech” actually works in this country, or where it does and does not apply.

    Hint: when a private entity rather than the government is involved, “free speech” has nothing whatsofuckingever to do with it.

    The real test of principle here is accepting that boycotts can cut both ways, and that that’s the price of being able to levy market pressure in order to compel good corporate behavior.

  91. 91
    different-church-lady says:

    @samara morgan: Slutgate’s been going on for about a week and a half. War crime took place two days ago.

    Elapsed time: how does it fucking work?

  92. 92
    different-church-lady says:

    And and all discussions here about the intersection of speech and advertising are going to be somewhat ironic as long as there’s a sidebar ad for Sheriff Joe’s efforts to “Take our country.”

  93. 93
    trollhattan says:

    Rush, being Rush, piled on with his pr0nographic slander of Ms. Fluke (and kept piling) while the wounds from the Komen affair and all the contraceptive-bothering were still festering. It was a pander too far even if it wasn’t wildly out of character with his SOP of the last few decades, and evidently was enough to get a lot of decent people properly outraged.

    I’ll speculate some percentage of those who pulled ad accounts represent instances of the folks in charge paying attention to him and what he says for the first time. Which in turn got them to ask, “What other nutjobs are we advertising with?”

    No predictions on whether this will mean a lasting change, but my hunch is some of these wounds are permanent.

  94. 94
    muddy says:

    @samara morgan: It’s clear that you think you are insightful all the time, even when droning on about your crush on EDK, and even your wee smiley is probably an incisive comment as well.

    If people want to read and/or talk about things not posted here, then they should just go find them elsewhere. And probably they do. I’m not sure why you think no one reads about it or has an opinion just because they did not find out through a link from BJ, or from you.

    I’m back to diet pie, made with skim.

  95. 95
    Warren Terra says:

    The Nation has an explicit ad policy of something like “if they pay us and it doesn’t incite violence, we’ll run the ad, and we’ll also call the advertisers assholes if they’re assholes”. As a consequence, they sometimes have ads that upset their audience (“organic” cigarettes for quite a while; full-page full-color Fox News ads on the back cover in a memorable episode), and run an editorial explaining to their readers that they need the money and don’t want to discriminate in accepting ads. Seems to work pretty well.

    Going from the other direction, though, if I were a Fox News believer I’d be pretty upset about their subsidizing The Nation, at least half of which is well to the left of anything you’ll see represented in the mainstream media, even as representing the left. Although, given the way GOPers think, they’d probably see the ads arriving in subscribers’ mailboxes as some sort of victory, a F-You to the liberal magazine readers.

  96. 96
    samara morgan says:

    @muddy: did someone say EDK?
    his “dude, dont conservative sukk blog” died on March 2. pretty soon it will start to stink.
    and on Forbes hes not the “education blogger” like he tole us he was gunna be– hes the token conservative videogame boi.

    your reading comprehension skillz are mighty poor if you dont get that i hate the little creepers guts.
    ive been pretty open about that.

  97. 97
    samara morgan says:

    @muddy: and its a gloating, smirky, wicked grin, not a smiley.

    this is a smiley.
    :)

  98. 98

    […] Mistermix suggests this could mark a permanent shift of “mainstream” advertisers away from right-wing talk radio — “the twenty-five year fantasy that right-wing radio is a mainstream American phenomenon is finally ending.” Anyone who’s ever subscribed to Mother Jones is familiar with this phenomenon. I don’t subscribe now, but unless things have changed radically, McDonald’s, GM and the rest aren’t advertising there, for a simple reason: what Mother Jones prints is offensive to too many GM customers, not to mention GM itself. Mother Jones is financed by a mix of donations, grants and advertising from companies whose products are pitched directly at people with progressive values (like social investment firms). Similarly, Rush and the rest are going to have to re-tool with advertisers who cater to the 27%. Apparently this group is profitable for companies selling tinnitus cures and gold. Rush might not be able to make $50 million/year and fly around in a private jet by hawking quack remedies and begging the Koch brothers for donations, but he’ll no doubt be able to make a living. […]

  99. 99
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @dr. bloor: Bill is a lifetime member of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

    Any time he says something clever in one of his monologues I am convinced one of his interns wrote it.

    I don’t even bother with clips of his table discussions. I end up not only despising Maher but all of his guests.

    For example, Dan Savage could have never said all that crap he said about transgendered people and I’d still have contempt for him for his words and attitude on Maher’s show.

    Ugh.

  100. 100
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @marcopolo:

    I’m willing to entertain the belief that Maher said was he said to try to inoculate himself from folks on the right going after him in retaliation for the boycott of Rush.

    Now that’s comedy, after Maher told us in pious tones a few years back that vaccines were a squirrely allopathic plot that probably sickened more than they saved!

  101. 101
    ellennelle says:

    much as i love me some bill maher, i have to say he is totally mishandling this, and exposing his own flirtations with, um, perhaps what me might term not the most progressive attitudes about women in the process.

    plus, he’s missing this simple – but to my mind, glaring – point. maher’s abuse of curse words that include lady parts (and not, notably, the ‘n’ word, for example) is just plain out and out slang, in the metaphorical sense. think about it; he could have just as easily used either/both word/s to apply to limpboy himself, or to boehner, or santorum. the list goes on; he used it in reference to palin (and the others) in its metaphorical sense.

    limpboy’s use of slut and prostitute, on the way over there right other hand, so clearly used those terms literally. in fact, he spent three days explicating in great and gross detail just how fluke’s lifestyle fit that definition! literally!

    this distinction is so not trivial. i’ve spent the weekend listening to various different pundits dance around this issue and completely miss this the difference. this is precisely why everyone’s so mad. limpboy was so not just calling fluke a slut the way maher called palin; he was describing her specifically, by definition. literally.

  102. 102
    Ruckus says:

    @Catsy:
    Nice.
    Actually nice twice because I don’t have to write a response.

  103. 103
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Catsy: Pretty much this. “Free speech” as it’s been bandied about is a very specific term as defined in the Constitution. This ain’t it.

    As for Maher, of course he’s taking Limbaugh’s side. They are brothers under the skin to a varying degree, and Maher knows that he could be on the blunt end of such a boycott one day – perhaps from the left as well.

  104. 104
    Nancy Irving says:

    Rush’s flagship station, WABC in New York, has mainly been airing public service announcements…

    Hilarious…Limbaugh reduced to doing PSAs! I’ll bet this is the first time in his life he’s ever done a public service.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Mistermix suggests this could mark a permanent shift of “mainstream” advertisers away from right-wing talk radio — “the twenty-five year fantasy that right-wing radio is a mainstream American phenomenon is finally ending.” Anyone who’s ever subscribed to Mother Jones is familiar with this phenomenon. I don’t subscribe now, but unless things have changed radically, McDonald’s, GM and the rest aren’t advertising there, for a simple reason: what Mother Jones prints is offensive to too many GM customers, not to mention GM itself. Mother Jones is financed by a mix of donations, grants and advertising from companies whose products are pitched directly at people with progressive values (like social investment firms). Similarly, Rush and the rest are going to have to re-tool with advertisers who cater to the 27%. Apparently this group is profitable for companies selling tinnitus cures and gold. Rush might not be able to make $50 million/year and fly around in a private jet by hawking quack remedies and begging the Koch brothers for donations, but he’ll no doubt be able to make a living. […]

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