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Update: Limbaugh Loses Ninth Advertiser Over Comments About Law Student

Rush Limbaugh.
Ron Edmonds
Rush Limbaugh.

Update at 6:08 p.m. ET. USA Today's On Politics blog reportsthat both Sears and Allstate are distancing themselves from Limbaugh as well. Both firms said their media buying firms bought space on the show, today, but they have instructed them not to continue.

Update at 12:05 p.m. ET: Since we first published this post, there's been word from AOL (via The Huffington Post) that it too is pulling its ads from conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: On his show today, Limbaugh said he does not think Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke is a "slut" or "prostitute." He also said that in using such words to describe her, "I descended to their level" — apparently referring to those on the left.

Update at 1:25 p.m. ET. From MSNBC:

"Student Called 'Slut' By Limbaugh Dismisses Apology."

Update at 3 p.m. ET. A Ninth:

The New York Times' Media Decoder blog writes that along with AOL, Tax Resolution Services also pulled its ads today. The blog also says that:

"The effect of the advertiser defections is hard to assess because the total number of Mr. Limbaugh's national advertisers is unknown. Separately, the hundreds of local stations that carry his program also have their own advertisers. Mr. Limbaugh's own Web site has not carried any outside advertising for the last day."

Ad Age says of the effect of lost advertisers on Limbaugh and the campaign by his critics to pressure companies not to run spots on his show, "Mr. Limbaugh's three-hour program is on hundreds of local networks, making it difficult to track down all its advertisers."

On the show today, Limbaugh "said he rejects millions of dollars of advertising a year, including that of General Motors," Ad Age ads.

Limbaugh went on, according to a transcript on his website, to say that: "What we're gonna do is replace those that leave, those that no longer want access to you, those advertisers who no longer want your business, fine. We'll replace them. It's simple, really."

Our original post:

ProFlowers on Sunday became the seventh advertiser to pull adds from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated program in the wake of his charge last week that a Georgetown University law student is a "slut" and a "prostitute" because she believes insurers should cover the cost of women's contraception services.

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

According to The Associated Press, "the six other advertisers that say they have pulled ads from [Limbaugh's] show are mortgage lender Quicken Loans, mattress retailers Sleep Train and Sleep Number, software maker Citrix Systems Inc., online data backup service provider Carbonite and online legal document services company LegalZoom."

Over the weekend, as NPR.org's Stephanie Federico reported for us, Limbaugh issued a statement Limbaugh released a statement about his comments regarding law student Sandra Fluke:

"For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week. In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

"I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

"My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."

The Washington Post's Paul Farhi this morning looks at the controversy and notes that:

"Limbaugh has escaped lasting damage over inflammatory remarks before, such as when he suggested that Michael J. Fox was exaggerating the effects of Parkinson's disease in a 2006 ad in which the actor advocated more funding for stem-cell research, or when he aired a song parody called Barack the Magic Negro that lampooned Barack Obama's candidacy in 2007.

"Similarly, Limbaugh's fans are likely to be 'energized' by his comments about Fluke and contraceptives, said Randall Bloom­quist, a talk-radio consultant who is a former program director of WMAL [radio in Washington, D.C.]. ...

"But the loss of advertisers should be a worrisome sign to Limbaugh, said Holland Cooke, also a talk-radio consultant. 'I think this story is closer to the beginning than the end,' he said Sunday. 'This is in the hands of an angry public now. I can't imagine that he won't be diminished in some way.' "

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Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.