Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, center, speaks with Joy Behar, left, and Sherri Shepherd, co-hosts of ‘The View,’ about Rush Limbaugh’s comments.
Associated Press Enlarge
WASHINGTON — Radio host Rush Limbaugh’s mouth is taking a bite out of his wallet.
Nine advertisers and a radio station in Hawaii dropped his show after Mr. Limbaugh called a law student a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
One of the most popular radio shows in the country on Monday lost advertisers including AOL Inc. and Tax Resolution Services Co.
The tax firm helps people who have disputes with the IRS.
It spends about $9 million a year on radio advertising, according to ratings firm Nielsen, and its Web site carries endorsement from conservative talk radio personalities Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Mr. Limbaugh.
Mr. Limbaugh apologized over the weekend for his comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke after she testified to congressional Democrats that her Jesuit college’s health plan should cover her birth control.
KPUA, an AM station in Hilo, Hawaii, said it is dropping Mr. Limbaugh’s show immediately.
The statement by station owner New West said the Limbaugh incident “crossed a line of decency” and didn’t live up to the station’s standards.
“We are strong believers in the First Amendment and have recognized Mr. Limbaugh’s right to express opinions that oftentimes differ from our own, but it has never been our goal to allow our station to be used for personal attacks and intolerance,” New West said.
“I should not have used the language I did, and it was wrong,” a rarely contrite Mr. Limbaugh told listeners.
But callers to the show urged him not to give in to critics, which now include Republican leaders in Congress and those seeking the GOP presidential nomination.
He blamed the media for the pressure.
“Talk about a double standard,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “Rappers can say anything they want about women. It’s called art. And they win awards.”
Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks Inc. hosts Mr. Limbaugh’s show. His on-air contract runs through 2016.
Premiere Radio said Monday that it respects Mr. Limbaugh’s right to express his opinions.
It said that “in an attempt at absurdist humor to illustrate his political point, Mr. Limbaugh used words that unfortunately distracted from the message he was trying to convey.”
The company said Mr. Limbaugh did the right thing by “expressing regret for his choice of words and offering his sincere and heartfelt apology to Ms. Fluke.”
Ms. Fluke said Mr. Limbaugh’s apology changes nothing and that Americans have to decide whether to support companies that continue to advertise on his program.
Ms. Fluke, who testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health-care policy that would compel her Jesuit college’s health plan to cover her birth control, said she had not heard from Mr. Limbaugh directly but signaled she had little interest in speaking with him.
She said his criticism of her beliefs was an attack on women’s health.
“I think any woman who has ever been called these types of names is [shocked] at first,” Ms. Fluke told ABC’s The View.
“But then I tried to see this for what it is, and I believe that what it is, is an attempt to silence me, to silence the millions of women and the men who support them who have been speaking out about this issue and conveying that contraception is an important health care need that they need to have met in an affordable, accessible way.”
The advertisers that have backed away from Mr. Limbaugh’s program represent technology, financial services, and retailers.
AOL, an Internet portal that runs the TechCrunch blog and the Huffington Post, said Mr. Limbaugh’s comments “are not in line with our values.”
Other companies that say they have left the show include flower delivery service ProFlowers, mortgage lender Quicken Loans, the maker of Sleep Number beds, mattress retailer Sleep Train, software maker Citrix Systems Inc., online data backup service provider Carbonite, and online legal document services company LegalZoom.
Allstate Corp. said it bought ads on Mr. Limbaugh’s show by accident.
Clear Channel Media and Entertainment operates more than 850 radio stations in the United States, and Premiere says it’s the largest radio content provider in the country, syndicating programs to more than 5,000 affiliate stations.
Clear Channel has declined to say how much revenue it stands to lose from advertiser defections.
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