Recognizing the outsized role that use of social media by his critics has played in peeling advertisers away from his radio show, Rush Limbaugh has gone on the offensive. And not in the usual way, through his monologues. He finally decided to take Twitter seriously by launching and authoriing a @RushLimbaugh account.
"I'm activating my account and using it for strategic purposes," he declared on Thursday before letting loose a series of tweets that has included, for example, calling out a "good story" on the Daily Caller website about the contretemps and another one on the site LegalInsurrection.com about the role that the liberal media watchdog group, Media Matters for America, has played in inflaming marketers' passions against the Rush Limbaugh Program.
"Thare are a [few] things I want to get out there and not waste valuable broadcast time to do it," Limbaugh stated by way of partially explaining his newfound fondness for Twitter. "And you [listeners] can re-tweet it, so it ends up saturating the Twitterverse."
"I'm not going to be tweeting about breakfast and saying that I had a really good one today," Limbaugh added.
But with increasing competition for the arch conservative including Mike Huckabee's new radio show, Limbaugh wants to take advantage of whatever communications instruments he can, besides his radio show, to broadcast not only to his fan base but beyond in the aftermath of his Sandra Fluke comments and 129 advertiser pull-out. The man who says he gets behind his golden microphone "with one half of my brain tied behind my back, just to make it fair" is back on his heels like no time in his career over some on-air invective.
But as advertisers "Rush" to the exits, Media Matters and other right-wing pressure groups have continued to corral advertisers such as ProFlowers and Ford that might not otherwise have taken action. Ford, for example, isn't a national sponsor of Limbaugh but got swept up in the issue after some local radio stations carrying Limbaugh's show were running Ford ads.
But while Ford's social-media director, Scott Monty, helped make sure that Ford ads now aren't running on any station during Limbaugh's show, he is ambivalent about his take on the origins of and fallout from the controversy. "Should a vocal minority drive major business decisions?" Monty commented last week to Bloomberg Businessweek. "Or are they a minority that is using the online space as a platform when they don't have purchase power or influence that others have? From a data and analysis perspective, the jury is still out on that."
Meanwhile, the jury's verdict is certainly in for many critics and fans of Limbaugh. And for one supporter, the double standard of criticism from the left is too much to take.
"Bill Maher routinely uses far more odious terms on Sarah Palin" than Limbaugh used to describe Fluke, argued Pat Buchanan, the ancient Republican hand. "Rush apologized. But the left still campaigns to have his voice stifled and censored, by threatening advertisers ... Thus does the left honor the First Amendment."