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Glenn Halbrooks

Rush Limbaugh Loses Advertisers and Radio Station Coverage after Controversial Comments

By March 6, 2012

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Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is feeling the impact of his recent controversial comments regarding a law school student. Those comments have led some advertisers and at least two radio stations to sever ties with his show.

A photo of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh
Radio host Rush Limbaugh is under fire for comments he made about a law school student.
Photo © Getty Images
The controversy began when Georgetown law school student Sandra Fluke testified before a congressional committee about having contraception covered by health insurance. She said she expected to be criticized for taking a stand on the issue. But Limbaugh attacked her sex life. While he later apologized, the damage has been done.

The Republican presidential candidates are weighing in on the controversy, taking various approaches. They realize the health insurance debate is an important issue to some voters, as is whether to offer contraception coverage.

But former Republican presidential nominee John McCain is more blunt. He says Limbaugh's comments were "totally unacceptable."

Limbaugh's career will survive this momentary firestorm. In the twisted world of media, he may come out ahead because of this free publicity.

That's because in trying to build yourself or maintain your status as a radio personality, you have to seek to separate yourself from the sea of other announcers. While Limbaugh is one of the best-known conservatives on radio, getting attention helps build a radio brand. For all the negative comments and loss of advertisers, some listeners will love that he's so outspoken.

Trying to shock your audience with tasteless comments goes beyond political talk radio. Just last month, two announcers on a Los Angeles radio station were suspended after speaking about singer Whitney Houston shortly after her death. They have since apologized and met with critics to discuss their remarks.

Both of these cases could be examples of the old lesson that there's no such thing as bad publicity. It will be up to their listening audiences to decide whether they should profit from all the negative attention.

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