When Rush Limbaugh said that Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke was a “slut” and a “prostitute” the world elicited a collective gasp. But the fallout had only just begin.
Within a day his words were repeated over and over in a swift denunciation which reverberated across the Social Web. Within 24 hours he began losing advertisers and as he steadfastly tried to alter the context in which he spoke, trying to put a less virulent spin on his own words, the backlash grew bigger. Now, two weeks later, the number of advertisers which have pulled their sponsorship of the show numbers over 125, with signs that more will follow.
And still Limbaugh remains seemingly unapologetic, almost laughing in the race of his detractors, claiming the effort to remove him from the airways was somehow politically motivated and not the result of his own actions.
This is especially interesting given the number of Republican, conservative and Christian individuals who have spoken out against him. It is also telling that even as the groundswell of efforts to silence his public platform grows he seems unaware of the true power evoked by social media movements.
Users have sent out Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ updates–you name it and they have used it to spread the message that Limbaugh stepped over the line when it came to derogatory comments and has not yet appeased anyone he might have offended. This has done little to unsettle Limbaugh who continues to spout his musing unperturbed by the social media wave threatening his livelihood.
Of course underestimating the power of social media is nothing new. Just ask Hosni Mubarak or anyone who has effectively used social media to accomplish a hard-won goal.
Within days after radio talk host Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” — for three straight shows, though he didn’t intend it as a personal attack! — a handful of advertisers responded to the outrage of customers by pulling their sponsorship of the program.
That was two weeks ago. Today, thanks primarily to a sustained campaign on social media, the number of sponsors demanding that their ads no longer run on Limbaugh’s show has grown to 141.
Let’s face it, losing a couple of advertisers is no big deal. But when a trickle becomes a roaring stream, well, that’s an entirely different matter. (Et tu, Preparation H?) And Rush’s allegedly massive audience will mean nothing to Clear Channel Communications if it can’t make money off the show’s listenership.