Hush Rush Campaign Gears Up

Media Matters is taking its campaign to drive Rush Limbaugh out of business to a new level by investing $100,000 on radio ads in eight cities:

In one of the anti-Limbaugh ads, listeners are urged to call the local station that carries Limbaugh to say “we don’t talk to women like that” in our city.

Ad time was purchased in Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Seattle; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Macon, Ga.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Limbaugh or because of perceptions Limbaugh may be vulnerable in that market, said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.

“What we’re really looking for is a way to demonstrate the persistence of the effort and the fact that it is on a wide scale,” Carusone said.

Media Matters makes no bones about the fact that its purpose is not to critique the substance of anything Rush said, but to shut him up. A spokesman for Premiere Radio Networks commented:

“This is not about women,” said Rachel Nelson, Premiere spokeswoman. “It’s not about ethics and it’s not about the nature of our public discourse. It’s a direct attack on America’s guaranteed First Amendment right to free speech. It’s essentially a call for censorship masquerading as high-minded indignation.”

An attentive reader of the Associated Press’s account can tell that there is more going on here than spontaneous outrage over ill-advised language used by Rush (language that, in fact, was far more typical of liberal than conservative discourse). But, the AP being the AP, it couldn’t resist slipping in a little commentary:

Limbaugh, on his radio show Wednesday, said he’s being targeted in an attack that was long-planned — not mentioning it was his words that lit the fuse.

The organizer of the current Hush Rush campaign responded to criticism with a dose of pure BS:

Carusone said Limbaugh has a chilling effect of his own. “There are plenty of people who self-censor out of fear that Mr. Limbaugh will smear them,” he said.

The AP acknowledges that it is hard to tell what impact, if any, the boycott effort has had so far. Media Matters’s claims that advertisers are abandoning the Limbaugh show in droves are obviously false, but there may well have been some defections. It wouldn’t hurt to call or email companies that advertise on Rush’s show to express your support.

As for the larger question of the appropriateness of the Left’s boycott campaign, putting aside its obvious hypocrisy, it must be acknowledged that this tool has been used by the right as well as by the left. I believe it was conservatives who, quite a few years ago, first contacted television advertisers to complain about offensive content on programs sponsored by them. The AP quotes Brent Bozell on the right’s use of similar tactics:

The means of protest puts Media Matters and the conservative Media Research Center in the unlikely position of agreeing with each other. Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative media watchdog, said his group also informs advertisers of things it considers objectionable.

“We all have free speech,” Bozell said.

It would seem that conservatives’ most appropriate course at this point would be to step up pressure on companies that advertise on MSNBC and other left-wing outlets.

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