Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, the media conglomerate whose affiliate syndicates Rush Limbaugh's radio show, pulled two supposedly "divisive" radio ads for a Kansas women's health clinic because of complaints, a hypocritical move given Limbaugh's history of vicious and divisive attacks, including on women's health.
The Trust Women Foundation (TWF), which runs a women's health clinic in Wichita, Kansas, has confirmed that two radio ads for its clinic were removed from local stations owned by Clear Channel earlier this month. According to TWF's communications director, the ads were pulled due to complaints, and the nonprofit group Women, Action and The Media posted a statement from Witchita's Clear Channel General Manager Rob Burton saying that Clear Channel-owned station KZSN "has a responsibility to use our best judgment to ensure that advertising topics and content are as non-divisive as possible for our local audience."
Clear Channel's move to pull the ads is unusual given that two other radio stations and two print publications in Wichita have run the ads without complaint. It is especially ironic in light of Rush Limbaugh's vehemently divisive attacks, including on women's health, run regularly on Clear Channel-owned stations.
The most notorious target of Limbaugh's derision is Sandra Fluke, who testified before Congress as a Georgetown Law student in February 2012 about women's health care and the benefits of insurance coverage for contraceptives. Limbaugh launched at least 46 attacks on Fluke over two days, including calling her a "slut" and a "prostitute," claiming "she must be paid to have sex." He also accused Fluke of "having so much sex she can't afford her own birth control pills," and claimed that women with contraceptive coverage should be required to post sex videos online "so we can all watch." He also called her a "babe" who "goes before Congress and wants thousands of dollars to pay for her sex," and said that "this is more than just one woman wanting us to pay for her to have sex all the time."
Limbaugh's attacks against Fluke triggered a nationwide call for advertisers to pull their ads from the show, a campaign that was so effective that Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus Media, which owns many radio stations that air Limbaugh's show, said in March that Limbaugh's actions were still negatively affecting his radio business more than one year later. Dickey's statements came amid the cold reality that Limbaugh's tirade against Fluke not only caused a mass exodus of advertisers, but a multi-million dollar loss in revenue for Cumulus as well.
Sandra Fluke and women's health, however, have not been the only targets of Limbaugh's divisive comments; he regularly engages in offensive racial commentary as well. In 2004, Limbaugh used gang-centric language to describe the NBA, calling it the "Thug Basketball Association," telling listeners to "call 'em gangs" instead of teams. He criticized the Obama administration's efforts to rescue GM and Chrysler in 2009 by saying that "[P]eople in the private sector are getting raped by this administration," and in 2011, he asked if the CDC had ever "published a story about the dangers of catching diseases when you sleep with illegal aliens." Most recently, Limbaugh claimed that he could now say the word "Nigga' with an a" because "it's not racist."
Amid the space it provides for Limbaugh's irrefutably divisive comments, Clear Channel's move to pull two 30-second radio ads promoting women's health resources seems unfounded.