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The Limbaugh Slut Comment: Not a Freedom of Speech Issue

It's a Free Market Issue

By

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh Publicity Photo
Rush Limbaugh made comments about a law school student and her testimony before a Congressional committee. He likened her opinion that contraception should be paid for under a national health care plan to that of a "slut" or "prostitute" who takes money for sex.

You can think what you wish about his comments, pro or con. What I want to address is the reaction from some of his supporters to the fallout which includes sponsors canceling their advertising on his program.

Some people are rip-roaring mad that Limbaugh's "Freedom of Speech" is somehow being trampled on. This couldn't be further from the truth. This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is a capitalistic free market issue - and the good news: the market's working just fine.

Political Radio and the Marketplace

I once argued that the reason conservative radio is popular and liberal radio doesn't survive very well in the marketplace (Air America Radio) is because the marketplace readily supports one and not so much the other. As evidence, just look at the track record of Limbaugh's program and the many radio stations that adopt a conservative lineup of hosts outside Limbaugh's show.

It's easy to sell because it gets ratings. The marketplace supports it.

Now, the desertion of some sponsors from Limbaugh's show in response to his latest controversy is simply the free market working again. People have every right to lobby sponsors NOT to support a program. If a sponsor concedes and pulls advertising, it is the sponsor making a choice based on suggestions or even threats of no support from a segment of the marketplace that wants the change.

No one should have a problem with sponsors making business decisions. They are not required to take political stands or expose themselves to bad public relations. If they are uncomfortable being in the cross hairs of criticism, they are not obligated to stay there - even if it is only temporary.

Pressured Not Censored

And for those saying Limbaugh's free speech has somehow been compromised, they are incorrect. Not only was he not censored before he made his remarks, but he is not being censored now should be wish to repeat them. He's being pressured, not censored.

Rush Limbaugh's loss of sponsors this week is not due to censorship. But, he is being censured in a way by some of his sponsors. "Censure" is "an expression of strong disapproval" and that is exactly what some

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