Back in April, 2007, when Don Imus had his bout with verbal diarrhea and, for his efforts, got himself fired, I remarked on the hypocrisy of his employers: MSNBC and CBS. I concluded that the reasoning behind Imus’ exit had far more to do with profit than the gravity of his remarks.
“In the end what got Imus canned was not so much his mouth, though it certainly played a role, but the underlying fear within corporate America that whatever rocks the boat and threatens the bottom line must be dealt with in the harshest of terms. Indeed Imus’ greatest crime might have been that he bit the hand that fed him. The very same networks that financially benefited from his off-color humor and abrasive personality, when they saw their profits threatened, turned on him like a tiger eating its young. And like the tsunami that swept onto shore to devour the invincible, when it was finally done receded back into the ocean leaving in its wake the aftermath of its destruction.”
Fast forward five years later and another abrasive personality known for his off-color, obnoxious remarks and sick and twisted humor went ahead and pushed the envelope too far. The exodus of advertisers from the Rush Limbaugh show has been considerable, remarkable and equally hypocritical. Why hypocritical? Because the motive behind their decisions is based solely on profit. Just look at some of the statements issued by the “offended” parties:
“Mr. Limbaugh's unsettling comments are not in line with our values, and we've decided to remove our advertising from the program.” – Vitacost
“Rush Limbaugh’s comments are not in line with SENSA values so we are pulling our ads indefinitely.” – SensaWeightLoss
“We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh’s comments are not in line with our values. As a result we have made the decision to suspend advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Radio show.” – AOL
To which I would reply, I am shocked, shocked to discover that gambling is going on here! I mean what part of disingenuous don’t these companies get? Unsettling comments? This is Rush Limbaugh we’re talking about here. The man has been making unsettling comments for twenty years and you just found out it was “not in line with your values” now? Are you f***ing kidding me?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the unfolding spectacle of watching this buffoon squirm as he finally gets his comeuppance. I just wish the motivation behind it was sincere and not just the result of public perception. The fact of the matter is that, for all the bombast and ugliness of the show, Limbaugh has made these sponsors a ton of money over the years. The Sandra Fluke incident brought his caustic style a little too far into the light of day and, hence, threatened their bottom lines. Just like in ’07, a price had to be paid. In the case of Imus, termination was the result; with Limbaugh, it’s his wallet that will bear the brunt, at least for now.
In due time all will be forgiven. The sponsors who fled like locusts will flock back to papa bear like a sick dog to an abusive owner. The love of money, trust me, will triumph over any lingering vestiges of principle.
Don’t believe me? Imus has been back on the air for four years now. Ain’t capitalism grand?