11 Advertisers Flee Rush Limbaugh; Pro-Gingrich Super PAC Stays

Eleven advertisers and 2 radio stations have dropped Rush's show.

ByABC News
March 5, 2012, 4:48 PM

March 5, 2012 -- Advertisers are rushing to the exits of Rush Limbaugh's radio show after customers inundated the Internet with outrage over the conservative commentator's widely criticized "slut" comments about Sandra Fluke.

Online media giant AOL, tax attorney group Tax Resolution Services, weight loss program Sensa and vitamin supplier Vitacost announced Monday that they were pulling their commercials from Limbaugh's program, bringing the total number of companies withdrawing their ads to eleven.

Two radio stations -- KPUA AM 670 in Hilo, Hawaii and WBEC 1420 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts -- announced they will no longer broadcast the show because of Limbaugh's comments. According to Limbaugh's web site, more than 600 stations air his show.

"It has never been our goal to allow our station to be used for personal attacks and intolerance," Chris Leonard, President and General Manager of New West Broadcasting, KPUA's parent company, said Monday in a statement. "The most recent incident has crossed a line of decency and a standard that we expect of programming on KPUA whether it is locally produced or a syndicated program like the Rush Limbaugh show."

WBEC Vice President Peter Barry said his decision to cut Limbaugh has been met with overwhelming support from the station's listeners.

"We have been inundated with calls and emails of support," Barry told ABC News. "There have been probably 50 calls of support for every one call disagreeing with the decision."

On his show last week Limbaugh dubbed Georgetown University law school student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying before a congressional committee that birth control should be covered under employee health insurance plans.

Limbaugh has been widely criticized by many Democrats and women's rights groups, but the Republican response has been measurably more muted. The GOP presidential candidates have stopped short of all-out condemning Limbaugh's statements. And the pro-Newt Gingrich Super Pac Winning Our Future is running a national radio ad during Limbaugh show.

The Super Pac's spokesman Rick Tyler said the group had no intention of pulling its pro-Gingrich ads, which attack Mitt Romney, from Limbaugh's show.

Gingrich has steered clear of criticizing Limbaugh, instead re-ocusing the issue on President Obama, whom he says "opportunistically" interjected himself into the issue by calling Fluke on Friday.

Lear Capital, a gold and silver investment firm, and LifeLock, an identity theft protection service, are both sticking with Limbaugh. LifeLock posted Saturday on Facebook that Limbaugh's comments "in no way reflect the opinions of LifeLock" but did not say it was considering pulling their ads.

Lear Capital posted on its Facebook page that the company was "evaluating our advertising relationship" with Limbaugh and was "very concerned" about Limbaugh's comments, which it said "blurred" the lines between "free speech and unnecessary personal attacks."

While Limbaugh apologized for his "choice of words" on Saturday, some advertisers are still fleeing his show.

The web-based flower delivery company ProFlowers withdrew its ads on Sunday. Online document company Legal Zoom and document security group Carbonite pulled their ads on Saturday.

The Internet software maker Citrix, mattress companies Sleep Train and Sleep Number and mortgage lender Quicken Loans suspended their advertising on Friday, before Limbaugh's apology.

A handful of companies, including Allstate Insurance, Sears and Bare Escentuals cosmetics, have claimed their ads were mistakenly run during the program and vowed to insure that any additional ads are immediately pulled from Limbaugh's show.

All of the former advertisers cited a conflict of values as the reason for dropping their ads.

"Mr. Limbaugh's recent comments went beyond political discourse to a personal attack and do not reflect our values as a company," ProFlowers said Sunday in a statement on its Facebook page. "As such, ProFlowers has suspended advertising on the Rush Limbaugh radio program."

The companies' often short statements posted to Twitter, Facebook and corporate blogs have already received an outpouring of comments. More than 1,100 people "liked" AOL's decision within three hours of it being posted on Facebook. And while Carbonite has less than one-tenth as many Facebook fans as AOL, more than 4,600 people have "liked" or commented on its decision to withdraw their ads since it was posted on Saturday.

The progressive activist group Credo action collected more than 360,000 signatures in an online petition calling for all national advertisers to pull their support from Limbaugh's show. The petition charges that the advertisers funding his "misogynistic rants" are supporting the Repulican "war on women."