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Could Social Media Get Rush Limbaugh Fired?
By: Melody Weister
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In the wake of Rush Limbaugh’s inflammatory comments against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, the woman notably kept from testifying at the all-male congressional panel hearings concerning the Blunt amendment, the media reaction came quickly, but social media networks were up in arms before the first evening news broadcast could address the subject. No sooner had word of his libelous comments regarding Ms. Fluke’s sex life hit the airwaves than they were posted online, and the good people of the Internet reacted as they could only be expected to: with outrage.

Limbaugh referred to Ms. Fluke on his program as a “slut” and a “prostitute,” and also showed his complete lack of knowledge regarding birth control pills and how they work by implying that she was “having so much sex she couldn’t pay for,” the contraception, despite the fact that ordinary birth control pills are taken once a day, regardless of whether the woman taking them intends to have sex. The Internet, of course, was quick to point out this fact, and also the fact that Fluke wasn’t slated to testify about her own personal experiences regarding contraception, but instead a gay friend who had polycystic ovarian syndrome and couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary contraception.

Following the initial outrage regarding Limbaugh’s comments, people quickly realized that provoking him would only cause him to profit from the situation. Although Limbaugh has since apologized, his apology was clearly forced, and only regarded his word choice, not the actual sentiment behind his words. No sooner did one person mention, “What’s going to get him fired is getting his advertisers to pull out,” than a list of companies that advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show was provided, along with contact information, websites, social media accounts, etc. And if there’s anything the good people of the Internet know how to do, it’s how to reach out to companies and let them know that they are displeased. The list showed up on reddit, than quickly spread to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter links, Blogger sites, and the websites, emails, and phone lines of these sponsors began filling up with customer complaints.

Since then, according to ABC News at least six advertisers have pulled their advertisements from Limbaugh’s show, even after his so-called “apology” to Ms. Fluke. Even eHarmony, who has said they do not specifically purchase ads on his show, is looking into the matter of network buys to see if they can direct their ads away from Limbaugh. As more and more sponsors pull their advertisements, it leads to the question: could this be the end of Limbaugh’s show? After all, when Glenn Beck was released from Fox News, most claims were that it happened because all of the sponsors advertising on his show had begun to flee, and Beck couldn’t stop it. Now that Limbaugh’s show has begun bleeding advertisers faster than it knows how to handle, we can only wait and see what happens from here.

Whatever happens, one fact that remains evident is that, without the aid of social media putting information into the hands of those made furious by Limbaugh’s statements, an outcry of quite this size and ferocity might not have sprung up. Social media not only served the role of the vehicle delivering the necessary contact information, but for many of these advertisers, it was also the means of communication chosen by the furious customers to express their frustration with these companies for supporting Limbaugh’s show. If there was every any doubt about the power social media wields these days, this has certainly quelled it. As I’ve said before, making the Internet angry doesn’t bode well for one’s continued employment. Unfortunately, Limbaugh didn’t heed this warning. Only time will tell if it will mean the end of his program.


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About the Author
Melody Weister is a technology aficionado, unashamed smartphone geek, and casual gamer from Montclair, NJ, where she works as a Social Media Coordinator. Follow her on Twitter: @msmelodyrose.
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