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Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 03/07/2012

Rush Limbaugh’s show targets jerks, judging from the latest ads


Rush, so named for what advertisers are now doing, away from him. (MICAH WALTER - REUTERS)

This post has been updated.

Advertisers learned something about Rush Limbaugh’s demographic this week.

“Here we thought lots of pleasant, upstanding people were listening to and enjoying the rational things Rush had to say,” dozens of companies said. “Apparently not.”

It turns out that people who really, truly still enjoy Rush Limbaugh’s show are — how do I put this? — jerks.

At least that’s what the new advertisements moving into the vast empty lot of Rush Limbaugh, Inc., implies. “Ah,” you say, as a rat runs over your foot and several people offer payday loans and try to sell you watches from their trench coats. “This place seems to have gone downhill somewhat.”

So far, he’s picked up AshleyMadison.com, the site where you go to cheat on your wife, and another Web site that is explicitly for sugar-daddy matchmaking.

And it’s about time.

From all their protestations, it would seem to come as a total surprise to Limbaugh advertisers that, for the past 20-odd years, Rush has been yelling strange, intemperate things into the airwaves. Like the opposite of ad space on Limbaugh’s program, I find this hard to buy.

“It’s been his meat and potatoes for years?” they ask. “That’s where the ratings came from? You’re kidding me. We must have had him confused with Rush Limbaaa: a fusion of sheep and a Canadian band.”

“That’s stupid and disingenuous, and that pun ought to be taken out and shot,” we say.

“What?” the advertisers ask. “Sorry, we can’t hear you, we’re too far away from Rush and all we can hear is stampeding footsteps.”

Still, I’m a bit awed by how many advertisers Rush Limbaugh had, including through affiliate networks. 46 have departed so far.

Netflix is gone. Bethesda Sedation Dentistry is gone. Even AOL is gone. (This may be the surest sign that things are in bad shape.) Allstate Insurance, Bonobos, Capital One, Carbonite, Citrix, Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, Norway Savings Bank, Philadelphia Orchestra, ProFlowers, Sleep Train, Sleep Number — all out the window.

But AshleyMadison, the Web site for people seeking extramarital affairs, and SeekingArrangement.com, which is, as Politico reported, the self-proclaimed “world’s largest sugar daddy and sugar baby dating website” — they’re now both firmly on board. Some rats run onto sinking ships.

Who listens to Rush? we ask. People who would like extramarital sex right now, please, or are eager to exchange money for sex, advertisers answer.

Consider the shift in demographic. We have gone from an image of Limbaughers as responsible, insurance-buying individuals who want to send flowers to other people, attend orchestral performances and sleep comfortably on nice mattresses, knowing that their data is secure. Now that image is of people who would like to sleep with someone to whom they are not married. These people realize that Rush’s main complaint about Sandra Fluke was not that she was a, well, rude monosyllable, but that through a gross miscarriage of justice the government was failing to supply him with video footage of her sex life.

How strange that it would take a furor over Limbaugh’s “slut” comments to reveal that his listeners aspire to such a title. If advertisers are to be believed.

But they say you know a man by the companies he keeps.

Update (March 8, 4:36 p.m.): I respond to Limbaugh’s on-air complaint to this piece. I’m sorry, Rush. Let me buy you a sandwich.

By  |  03:02 PM ET, 03/07/2012

Tags:  Limbaugh

 
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