"Slut" Firestorm Sends Limbaugh Into Crisis Management Mode

Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

Rush LimbaughIn the wake of his misogynistic and sexist comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, Rush Limbaugh has lost advertisers and affiliates.

According to Limbaugh, this hasn't affected his business, and he claims that advertisers are still beating down the door to be on his show (despite a memo circulated by syndicator Premiere Radio Networks listing advertisers who specifically are asking to be excluded from Limbaugh and other controversial shows).

A closer look at the issue debunks Limbaugh's rhetoric.

The New York Times reported on March 13 that Premiere had lost "less than $2 million in revenue" as a result of pulled advertising, according to "a person with knowledge of the company." In the same article the Times reported that Premiere had told affiliates in an internal memo that they could pull barter ads that they are usually required to run in exchange for the program -- a major source of revenue for the company. Industry publication Radio-Info.com described the move as "unusual." The reported loss of revenue would have occured before any barter ads were pulled and within the two week period between Limbaugh's comments and the Times article.

Limbaugh also faces the loss of affiliates owned by Cumulus Media Networks, whose CEO said the ongoing controversy would be "very helpful" to the planned national launch of a radio show for Mike Huckabee. Huckabee's brand of talk is being sold as "more conversation and less confrontation." One of the stations that dropped Limbaugh in response to his comments has already said it will begin airing Huckabee's show when it premieres next month.

While he's publicly scoffed at the notion that the reaction to his misogyny is having an impact, he's quietly hired an expert in crisis management to handle the fallout.

Brian Glicklich has been acting on Limbaugh's behalf since at least March 8. Glicklich is a former vice president at Premiere Radio Networks, and currently heads the firm How Handy Is That, which specializes in reputation and crisis management and "gadfly defense." He previously worked as counsel to a firm that provides crisis management to clients like David Copperfield and Paris Hilton. Glicklich also has an extensive relationship with Glenn Beck, and is thanked in the acknowledgements of several of Beck's books.

The website for Glicklich's firm, How Handy Is That, describes his work:

My clients often find themselves under attack from outside advocacies or pressure groups. Sometimes these groups are little more than an individual Gadfly with strong digital organizing knowledge. Often, my client has previously underestimated their opposition, to their detriment, before calling me.

Effective management of these situation is based on a multiplex analysis of the opposition's business and reputational influence power, the strength of our position vis a vis our opposition, opposition research for motivation and weak spots, and a number of other factors.

Glicklich's Twitter account, which had been unused for a month, came back to life on March 15 and began promoting defenses of Limbaugh. Coincidentally, Limbaugh began using his official Twitter account on the same day. Politico noted, "Rush Limbaugh is mobilizing his army of dittoheads: on Twitter."

Facing an advertiser revolt, loss of affiliates and revenue, along with negative public relations and a challenge to his prime position on the airwaves, Limbaugh is fully engaged in an effort to push back on the story.

But in public, he insists that his listeners didn't think his comments were "that big of a deal to begin with."

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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