Rush Limbaugh's Advertiser Exodus

On March 8, WABC's online feed aired Rush Limbaugh's radio show almost exclusively with unpaid public service announcements and included significant amounts of dead air space, as only nine paid advertisements were broadcast during three hours of programming.

In the week since Limbaugh came under widespread condemnation for his misogynistic attacks on a Georgetown University law school student, at least 50 advertisers have canceled ads running during his program.

Those ad spaces are increasingly going to free public service announcements for organizations ranging from the New York Office of Emergency Management, the United Negro College Fund, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- 77 such PSAs aired on March 8, after a week of advertisers fleeing Limbaugh's show.

The decline in paid advertising in one week has been precipitous.


Media Matters verified 59 paid advertisers from WABC's online broadcast on March 1 -- the day Limbaugh called Georgetown University Law Center student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” No public service announcements aired that day. As recently as March 6, WABC was running no public service announcements during Limbaugh's show. The following day, as advertisers continued to pull out, more than half of the ads were PSAs created by the Ad Council.

Limbaugh has tried to downplay the imapct of his loss of advertisers, even as radio and advertising experts warn that his comments may have triggered a long-term exodus.