A tale of Rush Limbaugh’s early career as an offender of women, courtesy of Marc Fisher’s book “Something in the Air.” Following his 1988 national syndication deal, Limbaugh, writes Fisher (a Post colleague of mine), became “an almost instant phenomenon.”
Part of the phenomenon was the language and mentality that now has the radio host fighting for his platform. In one show, according to the book, Limbaugh invoked the term ”femi-Nazis,” and the reaction wasn’t uniformly positive. Fisher:
. . . a station in California immediately got a call from one of its sponsors, Woody’s Barbecue, saying it would not do business with a station that allowed a host to voice such a slur.
Once Limbaugh caught onto the stink, he put the matter before his audience:
Ladies and gentlemen, I was informed last Friday that Woody’s Barbecue in Santa Barbara, California, has decided to drop its Christmas advertising plan with its local station because I have used the word ‘feminazi.’ Now, there are two ways I could deal with this. I could cry about it and I could shout about how unfair it is for Woody to do this. Then I could petition the government to make up the $250 that the radio station will lose. . . . Or I could approach this the conservative way: I could face it squarely like a man and fix it.
Just what would that entail? An apology?
Limbaugh turned into to a Woody’s pitchman, telling his listeners: “This is what I’d like you to do. If you have plans to go to lunch or dinner this week, go to Woody’s Barbecue.” Fisher writes that, days later, Woody’s had placed ads in the local newspaper “boasting that Rush Limbaugh had endorsed its ribs.”
Reasons why the Woody’s strategy wouldn’t serve Rush in the aftermath of the Sandra Fluke smears.
1) There are too many detractors. Politico counts a loss of 25 advertisers as of just after 4 p.m. today. There aren’t enough minutes in a Limbaugh show to shore up all those businesses.
2) Woody’s may have enjoyed Limbaugh’s attention, but the advertisers who’ve bailed on the show in recent days would not. They’re gone because the association carries poison.
3) Tactics that work for the barbecue industry fall flat for the mattress industry.