For nearly 30 minutes on Monday, a full sixth of his show, Rush Limbaugh raved about the new iPad.
Limbaugh's plug of the new iPad is just his newest Apple infomercial. "El Rushbo" has in the past raved about other Apple products, including the iPod. In 2008 he declared that his "life has changed" thanks to Apple's iPhone.
So, we put it directly to Rush: Are you on Apple's payroll?
Limbaugh's Monday half-hour New iPad plug was a spectacular recommendation. Radio's most popular talk show host said the new iPad "blows away my televisions, which were state-of-the-art." (Notably, Limbaugh failed to mention the brand of his TVs that "don't look 1080 to me anymore.") The man who keeps "half his brain tied behind his back just to keep it fair" continued:
"I put the iPad in front of me on my desk, and just exclusively used it. And I don't know why, but all of a sudden I changed my tune and I was blown away by that display. I was blown away by the screen. It took me a day and a half or two days of using it before I fully, finally appreciated just how amazingly good it is."
Limbaugh's fawning, no-faults review is also noteworthy in that most reviews of the new iPad have been a mixed bag.
As part of Limbaugh recent foray onto Twitter, the host is giving away a handful of laser engraved, special edition "Limbaugh" new iPads. (It's not a new promotional idea for Rush, who did a similar engraved iPod giveaway five years ago in 2007.) And Limbaugh's online store sells a "Rush Limbaugh Signature Edition" ZooGue iPad 2 Case Genius. Just $59.95, folks.
Of this latest "new iPad" circus, Limbaugh said on his Monday show, "Now, here's what I did. Before I knew any of this, I arranged, as I always do (and I secured them; I got it) a huge supply of the new iPads, and they are at the engraver as we speak."
"Secured" a "huge supply?"
Of course, "Win an iPo/ad" is the modern sales mating call; every car dealership, e-newsletter and scam spammer loves the idea of sucking them in with the magnet attraction of the latest Apple product for free. So, no great surprise then that Limbaugh's Twitter followers increased by the tens of thousands in the lat day.
By strict definition, Rush's half-hour iPad make-out session is an advertisement. The question is, was the advertising-challenged host paid for it? If not with cash, then with free product?
Not surprisingly, Limbaugh chose not to respond to our requests for comment. Even less surprising, as we've discovered in previous matters of Apple product placement, Apple also did not comment. Possibly meaningless (or not), the graphic at top did disappear from the web version of Limbaugh's iPad review after we reached out for comment on his relationship with Apple.
One thing is for sure, Limbaugh has some kind of relationship with Apple going back several years. In 2010, when the iPhone 4 new iOS was released, Limbaugh received a version well before Apple made it available to the public. What did Apple get out of the deal? Literally just minutes before the official iTunes release of the iOS, Limbaugh went on air to rave about how it was a "major, major, major upgrade... astounding."
Love for all things Apple is by no means partisan. As we've noted the "liberal"-leaning (thanks to stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin) 30 Rock frequently functions as its own 30-minute ad for Apple.
We also know that Apple isn't above plying the right voices with free product in return for glowing promotion. In 2010, Apple gave hit show Modern Family an advance iPad in return for a 30-minute episode all about the shiny new device. That same year, mock right-wing talk show host Stephen Colbert was advanced an iPad in return for a very public stunt at the Grammy Awards.
Sure, Apple did not pay cash for these placements, but the brand did provide free product, which, given the device's social and real value, is very significant. And in the case of Limbaugh, help contribute to the new iPad 3 "rush."