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Posts tagged "Media Matters For America"

Alan Grayson is correct. 

From the 05.17.2014 edition of SiriusXM’s Media Matters Radio:

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson is augmenting her campaign to paint herself as a victim of liberal media bias with conspiratorial and false attacks on Media Matters.

Earlier this year Attkisson, who had been celebrated by conservative activists for her often shoddy reporting on the Obama administration, ended her two-decade career at CBS News. She has since made numerous media appearances, often on Fox News, claiming that her reporting had been curtailed by CBS managers who opposed critical reporting on the administration. As Media Matters noted last week, Attkisson has provided little to no evidence to support her broad claims that politics, rather than newsworthiness, was keeping her stories off CBS’ air.

Attkisson responded during an April 20 appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources. After Attkisson claimed that there is a “campaign by those who really want to controversialize the reporting I do,” host Brian Stelter asked, “Media Matters has been campaigning against you and saying you’ve been inaccurate in your reporting, is that what they’re doing? They’re just trying to controversialize the issue?” Attkisson responded that she had been “targeted” by Media Matters and hinted at a motive, saying, “I don’t know if someone paid them to do it or they just took it on their own.” After Stelter asked her whether she really believed Media Matters had been paid to target her, she responded, “Perhaps, sure. I think that’s what some of these groups do, absolutely.”  

Attkisson’s claims quickly found a ready audience on Fox News.

But Attkisson’s claims are false. Media Matters has never taken contributions to target her or any other reporter. We have published research on her reports on green energy and Obamacare, among other topics, when those reports have been inaccurate or misleading — the same standard to which we hold any other reporter.

Attkisson decided to float this conspiracy theory without any evidence during an appearance on a news program, suggesting that she doesn’t believe she needs to prove her contentions before bringing them to a national audience. If that was the reporting standard she sought to uphold at CBS News, it’s no wonder that her managers were unwilling to let her promote half-baked conspiracies on their airwaves.

From the 04.20.2014 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources:

Stop whining, Sharyl! 

h/t: Matt Gertz at MMFA

Experts have repeatedly debunked the myth that transgender non-discrimination laws give sexual predators access to women’s restrooms, but that hasn’t stopped conservative media outlets from promoting fake news stories to fear monger about trans-inclusive bathrooms.

For as long as the transgender community has fought for protection from discrimination in public spaces, conservatives have peddled the myth that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms.

That fear has been an extremely effective tool for scaring people into voting against even basic protections for transgender people, which is why conservatives routinely use the phrase “bathroom bill" to describe laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. When conservative media outlets attack non-discrimination laws for transgender people, they almost exclusively focus on bathroom and locker room facilities.

But that fear is baseless - completely unsupported by years of evidence from states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. In a new Media Matters report, experts from twelve states - including law enforcement officials, state human rights workers, and sexual assault victims advocates - debunk the myth that non-discrimination laws have any relation to incidents of sexual assault or harassment in public restrooms:

The transgender bathroom myth is likely to persist, even in the face clear evidence that discredits it. That’s because, unable to find real incidents to substantiate their fear mongering, anti-LGBT groups have taken to fabricating countless horror stories about trans-inclusive public restrooms. These stories are picked up and widely circulated by conservative (and occasionally mainstream) news outlets. By the time they’re debunked, most of the damage to non-discrimination efforts has already been done.

Last year, for example, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported an incident in which a male student, claiming to be transgender, was allegedly harassing female students in the school’s restrooms. The story was picked up by news outlets like the Daily Mail and Examiner and eventually made its way onto Fox Nation:

The story was a complete fabrication, manufactured by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a hate group working to repeal a California law protecting transgender students. Cristan Williams, a reporter at The Transadvocate, reached out to the school’s superintendent, who reported no incidents of harassment at the high school. Daily Mail took down its report on the incident, and Examiner published a retraction apologizing for its failure to fact-check the story. But Fox Nation didn’t note the correction, and Fox’s Sean Hannity continued to peddle PJI’s discredited horror stories about trans-inclusive restrooms. Unsurprisingly, PJI’s fears about trans-inclusive restrooms in public schools have turned out to be baseless.

In a statement to Equality MattersTransadvocate's Williams described the problem of media outlets' willingness to promote wild stories about trans-inclusive restrooms without first verifying their accuracy: 

In each case, an anti-LGBT group went to the media with an outlandish story about trans people who became wild after equality laws were passed and in each case, the media was eager to promote these stories without conducting proper fact checking.

PJI was only able to do what it did with the help of a credulous media that’s ready and willing to print - without question - whatever ludicrous anti-trans claim these anti-LGBT groups come up with. It’s a huge problem that does destroy lives. 

Public restrooms aren’t a new battleground for civil rights. Social conservatives frequently invoke “bathroom panic” to justify discrimination against marginalized groups. As Lambda Legal notes, the regulation of bathrooms has been used as a tool to exclude people of color, women, and people with disabilities from participating in public spaces. 

But the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms is a lie, plain and simple. It’s a lie that is unsupported by even a shred of evidence and contradicted by years of experience in states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. It’s a lie that does tremendous damage to efforts to protect transgender people from violence and harassment, which often occur in public restrooms. And it’s a lie that persists because conservative media outlets would rather tout made-up stories about sexual harassment than fact-check the anti-LGBT groups who invent those stories from whole cloth. 

h/t: Carlos Maza at MMFA

H/T: Daniel Strauss at TPM LiveWire

mediamattersforamerica

Last year, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik revealed in his book on Rupert Murdoch that the Fox News PR department created an elaborate series of fake commenter accounts to write “pro-Fox rants” in the comments sections of articles other outlets published about the network. 

According to a new biography of Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, the network’s online subterfuge went even further.

In The Loudest Voice in the Room, New York magazine journalist Gabriel Sherman reports that Roger Ailes was behind the creation of a blog called “The Cable Game” (TCG), which was used to attack Fox rivals like CNN and critics like Media Matters founder David Brock. According to Sherman, Ailes tapped Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton — who worked with Ailes on the 1988 George H.W. Bush presidential campaign and was later chosen to co-author Ailes’ now-abandoned autobiography — to help write the posts.

Media Matters review of TCG — which became defunct more than a year ago but is still partially available through the Internet Archive — finds laughably over-the-top praise of Ailes and other Fox personalities alongside vicious, often petty attacks on Fox rivals and perceived enemies. The blog’s criticism frequently echoed Fox’s own public attacks.

TCG regularly featured inside baseball content about the media that went far beyond what the casual media observer would know, much less care about. The blog cited sources inside Fox News, which it used to rebut criticism of the network. TCG was written under the pseudonym “The Cable Gamer,” and posts claimed the author was a woman.

The site was promoted on Fox News in at least four separate instances: three times by Pinkerton and once by Bill O’Reilly. Pinkerton gratuitously promoted the site on Fox News Watch on July 16, 2005 — a major promotion for an anonymous blog that had launched less than two weeks prior (July 8, 2005, with a post that asked, “is anyone cooler than Brit Hume?”). 

Roger Ailes Set Up Anonymous Blog “The Cable Game”

From Sherman’s book:

Shut out of the partisan cage match, CNN flailed, and Ailes pressed his advantage. He set up an anonymous blog called The Cable Game that took shots at his rivals. Ailes assigned Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton to write the entries. “The Cable Game was Roger’s creation,” one person close to Ailes said. ”Is CNN on the Side of the Killers and Terrorists in Iraq?” one headline read. “David Brock Gets Caught! (Although Secretly, He Probably Loves Being Naughty and Nasty),” blared another. The item’s text was accompanied by a photo of Brock posing in a skin-tight tank top with Congressman Barney Frank. “Media Matters, of course, is the notoriously left-wing hit group, founded by that flamboyantly self-hating conservative apostate, David Brock,” it said. “Brock has that rare distinction of being accused of being dishonest by both liberals and conservatives alike. But don’t take my word for it: Here’s what you get if you type ‘David Brock liar’ on Google: 168,000 hits.” CNN chief Jon Klein saw Ailes’s hand behind the articles. He called Ailes and blamed Fox for posting anonymous online gossip that outed the sexual orientation of CNN’s prime-time anchor, Anderson Cooper. Ailes denied any role. (Cooper wouldn’t announce he was gay until July 2012.) [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 339-340]

Sherman adds in his notes that he interviewed “a person familiar with the matter” about the blog, and “Pinkerton did not respond to requests for comment.” 

h/t: MMFA

The flawed 60 Minutes report represented a willing and eager decision by CBS to get mired in the Benghazi mud. CBS thought it could keep its reputation clean while cashing in on the built-in buzz it knew the right-wing noise machine would produce for the report.

But that’s a dangerous game given that there’s nothing sane or rational about the right-wing’s Benghazi fantasyand the claims it’s a “Watergate”-like scandal that implicates both President Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. The far-right’s Benghazi campaign has been an endless stream of hollow allegations and smears. (i.e. “The cancer on the Presidency is lying exposed — grisly and repulsive.”) Why would a trusted brand like CBS try to wallow in that kind of conspiratorial nonsense?

In reality, Lara Logan’s report produced little new reporting of interest or significance. And much of what it did cast as new turned out to be deeply flawed. The October 27 broadcast seemed designed to whip up angry emotions from conservatives, rather than illuminate the facts.  

The Benghazi fact sheet will likely haunt the network for years:

On October 27, 60 Minutes featured Dylan Davies, a British security contractor who claimed to be a “witness” of the September 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities; a witness who claimed that during the attack he heroically scaled a wall of the U.S. compound and knocked out a terrorist with his rifle butt. The action-packed tale Davies told was the same one he spelled out in a book published by CBS subsidiary, which meant the 60 Minutes report was helping to juice sales for a CBS-affiliated book. (60 Minutes did not inform their readeres of that conflict of interest.)

The story Davies told CBS though, was wildly different than the subdued account he gave his work superiors, according to an incident report that was obtained by The Washington Post on October 31. Davies had told his security contractor employer that he “could not get anywhere near” the compound the night of the attack.

With his story under fire, Davies responded that he lied to his employer because he didn’t want his boss to know he’d disobeyed strict orders that night to stay away from the Benghazi compound. While acknowledging that deceit, Davies claimed he told the truth on 60 Minutes and told the truth in his book, and said he would be vindicated by the FBI’s report on what he told agents shortly after the attack. 

Then the Times reported that the FBI report actually showed that Davis also told agents he failed to make it to the U.S. compound on the night of the attack, and therefore did not engage in a night’s worth of heroic deeds.

In the days that followed the original airing of the troubled Benghazi report, CBS did nothing to re-report or fact-check the story after holes began to appear. Other journalists, including those from the Washington Post and the New York Times, took on that burden. Basically, CBS waited for outside journalists to vet its Benghazi story after it aired. And only after CBS’ competitors uncovered glaring inconsistencies did the network’s news division admit mistakes were made. But the admissions came slowly and haltingly.

As it stonewalled, CBS couldn’t avoid the fact that in 2004 when 60 Minutes II was caught in a crossfire of conservative outrage after airing a disputed report about President Bush’s Vietnam War record, the network appointed a former Republican attorney general, Richard Thornburgh, to thoroughly investigate what went wrong. The review panel, created to “protect the integrity of CBS News,” was given ”full access and complete cooperation from CBS News and CBS, as well as all of the resources necessary to complete the task.” Those resources included reporters’ notes, e-mails, and draft scripts. After interviewing 66 people over three months, the panel issued an-often scathing 234-page report.

By contrast, no outside panel was appointed to determine how the flawed Benghazi report was put together and who was to blame for allowing it to air; the network instead commissioned a limited internal review by CBS News executive Al Ortiz. And instead of a 234-page report, CBS issued an 11-paragraph summary of Ortiz’s findings. It seemed clear that CBS executives had no interests in opening up 60 Minutes to an independent review; one that would truly probe and ask the hard questions. (Was that because CBS News chairman Fager, Ortiz’s boss, is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes?)

It was, as one journalism association put it, “a case study in how not to correct an inaccurate report in the digital age.”

To date, nobody at CBS has lost their jobs because of the Benghazi hoax. Logan and her producer Max McClellan were asked to take a “leave of absence” following the internal review (those leaves may end as early as January), but CBS has not said whether the two are being paid during their forced hiatus. 

Quite simply, how is it possible to spend a year reporting out a story only to have almost none of it stand up to the slightest scrutiny? The magnitude of the malfeasance was baffling, demonstrating that the network failed to follow even rudimentary rules of journalism in preparing the report.

In the end, CBS’s internal “review” of the debacle did little to address the troubling, central questions about how the errors were made and who was to blame. That, in turn, only led to further speculation about motives. Journalism that sloppy and misleading doesn’t happen by accident. Not at the elite level of 60 Minutes.

It took the CBS team nearly two weeks to concede what critics had pointed out as the report’s deep flaws. The price CBS paid? Its prized Benghazi report turned the network’s news team into a national punch line. (See The Colbert ReportThe Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and Saturday Night Live.) 

[…]

The night the 60 Minutes Benghazi hoax aired, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson used her Twitter account to relentlessly hype the program. Tweeting a dozen times that night about Logan’s Benghazi piece, Attkisson urged her followers to tune in and watch.

A professional Benghazi aficionado and the declared darling of the right-wing media, Attkisson’s cheerleading wasn’t a surprise. Nor was it surprising that when the 60 Minutes report completely imploded, Attkisson never acknowledged the network’s blunder via Twitter. She simply moved on to her own Obama gotcha campaign that featured a journalism lapse that nearly matched Logan’s.

On November 11, Attkisson aired an exclusive report based on reviewing what she acknowledged were selectively leaked partial transcripts. Those transcripts likely came by the auspices of Republican anti-Obama crusader, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), whose utterly fruitless investigations of the White House as chairman of the House Oversight Committee have become legendary. Issa himself has become known as being legendarily untrustworthy, particularly in his dealings with the press. But that didn’t stop Attkisson from simply regurgitating Issa’s hit piece.

In her report, Attkisson, who’s been identified by some of her own CBS colleagues as an open GOP partisan, suggested Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager Henry Chao in September was completely unaware of “limitless” security concerns related to the government’s troubled site; concerns that could lead to identify theft.

That was Attkisson’s tale as told by the House Oversight Chairman, and the partial transcripts he allowed Attkisson to see. The entire transcript story? In his testimony, Chao was asked about security concerns that had nothing to do with the October 1 rollout of Obamacare, and instead were related to parts of Healthcare.gov that won’t be active until 2014.

That’s just atrocious journalism. As MSNBC’s Steve Benen noted, the Attkisson report left out “pretty much every relevant detail that points in a more accurate direction.” But it did successfully create more panic about the Obamacare launch. The fact that Attkisson’s producers allowed her to air that kind of obviously flawed and flimsy report (Attkisson had no idea what the full transcripts revealed but she leveled a bogus charge anyway), says a lot about the gotcha culture inside CBS today.

It also reveals a lot that a reporter like Attkisson, who has such a rich history of being wrong on very important stories, is still a top reporter at CBS.

[…]

The “Ghastly” Social Security Disability Report

And then there was the October 6 scare report 60 Minutes aired that alleged widespread fraud within the Social Security disability program. (i.e. “A secret welfare system.”) Told from the perspective of another crusading Republican lawmaker, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Media Matters noted at the time the CBS report relied almost entirely on anecdotal evidence to dishonestly portray the social welfare program as wasteful, despite the fact that award rates fell during the recession and that fraud represents approximately one percent of the program.

After watching the lopsided report, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik denounced CBS correspondent Steve Kroft’s “rank ignorance about the disability program” and the “ghastly” piece Kroft helped produce.

Hiltzik wasn’t aloneThe Nation attacked the 60 Minutes report as a “hatchet job.” Economist Dean Bakerlamented that, “Perhaps the most remarkable part of this story is that the 60 Minutes crew seem to think they are being tough for going after people on disability.” And disability advocates, who had preemptively reached out to CBS in hopes that 60 Minutes would air a balanced report, denounced the “sensational” account as a “disservice” to people with disabilities.

Taken together, these troubling CBS reports, centered around the shocking Benghazi hoax, paint a disturbing portrait of one of Americans’ most famous news teams, and one that seems overly eager to spread Republican misinformation while doing deep damage to its own brand.

h/t: MMFA

h/t: Brad Friedman at Salon

Fox News contributor Sandy Rios made several extreme anti-gay remarks during her speech at the 2013 Values Voter Summit, including calling the murder of Matthew Shepard a “total fraud” and touting the existence of “ex-gays.”

Speaking at this year’s Values Voters Summit on October 11, Rios, a Fox News contributor and host of American Family Radio Talk’s “Sandy Rios in the Morning,” repeated the right-wing myth that the brutal murder of openly gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was actually motivated by drug use and not anti-gay bias. According to Huffington Post reporter Christinia Wilkie:

Rios went on to claim that “gay men like young, virulent men" and told the audience that so-called "ex-gays" - who claim to have left the gay "lifestyle" - are "everywhere!"

h/t: MMFA.org

Today Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro launched TruthRevolt, a new site designed to “unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public, and devastate their funding bases.” 

 

http://mediamattersforamerica.tumblr.com/ 
Fixed Noise doing their best to misinform the people on taxes as usual.

A Fox Business correspondent claimed that it was better to forgo nearly $3 million in additional prize money than to pay the roughly $400,000 in taxes due on it, representing a continuation of the baseless Fox News narrative that the rich have unduly high tax burdens.

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson placed second at June’s U.S. Open golf tournament. Fox Business correspondent Lauren Simonetti argued on June 19’s edition of Fox & Friends First that it may have been better for Mickelson to have lost the tournament and place second, for he would avoid paying nearly $400,000 in additional taxes.

She explained that had Mickelson won the tournament — and won the $1.44 million first prize — he would have had to pay an additional $76,000 more in taxes than he paid by placing second and receiving $700,000. Mickelson would have also had to pay an additional $300,000 in taxes on $2.5 million in bonuses paid to him by his sponsors, had he won. She concluded it’s better to avoid paying roughly $400,000 in taxes than to win nearly $3 million in after-tax incomeSimonetti said this made Mickelson “$400,000 richer.”

Television preacher and one-time Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson warned on his “700 Club” show Tuesday that he’s inclined to run a “full-scale exposé” on a web publication that he refused to identify, calling them a “nasty group” that focuses on “embarrassing conservatives” who appear on television.

There are only two groups he could be talking about: Media Matters and Right Wing Watch, both of which specialize in video clips of conservatives saying untrue, insensitive or otherwise appalling things. Given his status as America’s premiere television soothsayer, Robertson’s show is a frequent stop for both groups, but only one of them recently caused a stir at Robertson’s network.

Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way (PFAW), recently clipped Robertson saying something not so original for him, but always alarming when he repeats it. On a recent episode, he told a female viewer that her husband had an affair because she had not done enough to keep his attention, adding that she should focus on all the nice things he does for her instead, like letting her live in his house or giving her food and clothing.

Robertson has said essentially this before, telling a woman who wrote into his show in 2010 to “make yourself as attractive as possible” in order to prevent her husband from cheating,which Media Matters noted at the time.

When he repeated this meme earlier in May, Right Wing Watch was the group standing by to catch the ball, and that irked Robertson. “There are organizations, there is one in particular which I will not name, but it is set out for one purpose: to embarrass those who are conservative on television,” he said Tuesday. “So they take my words and they twist them and distort them.”

Just earlier this month, it was Robertson’s host network CBN that was embarrassed. The network explained in a statement that Robertson’s comment on adultery “was not to condone infidelity or to cast blame,” insisting they “regret any misunderstanding.”

Despite Robertson’s insistence, Right Wing Watch quoted him accurately and completely in context. “This organization misconstrues deliberately, they want to do everything they can do to make my words and they twist them,” he complained. “I will not identify the organization but one day we may have a full-scale exposé because it’s a nasty group.”

“Pat Robertson doesn’t understand how ridiculous and extreme he sounds to a mainstream audience,” Josh Glasstetter, PFAW’s research director, told Raw Story in an email. “For decades, he’s lived inside the bubble of the Christian Broadcasting Network. Right Wing Watch faithfully reports Robertson’s comments and provides appropriate context. There’s no need to ‘twist and distort’ his words to make them sound crazy or offensive. They are inherently both.”

As for that “full-scale exposé” the televangelist threatened, Glasstetter claimed he’s happy to hear it. “Robertson can’t threaten us into silence,” he explained. “He’s been attacking our founder, Norman Lear, for decades and even blamed us for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We take his outbursts as a badge of honor.”

From the 05.28.2013 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:

h/t: Stephen C. Webster at The Raw Story

Jennifer Rubin demands CNN ‘mute’ David Shuster for ‘Media Matters talking points’ (via Raw Story )

Neoconservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin on Sunday demanded that CNN “mute” Take Action News host David Shuster for using what she insisted were “Media Matters talking points” to slam ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl for inaccurately reporting details about the…


 

mediamattersforamerica:

The NRA is bringing in some really charming people for their annual conference, including a number of conservative media figures known for their violent rhetoric and promotion of pro-gun conspiracy theories. 

mediamattersforamerica:

Fox hosts Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity respond to abusive coach Mike Rice being fired by defending, and even praising his behavior. Stay classy, Fox News.

"Slut." "Prostitute." 

These words defined Rush Limbaugh in 2012 after he smeared Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who testified before Congress about women’s health care. Limbaugh’s misogynistic attack, which spanned three days of his radio show, did incalculable, long-term damage not only to Limbaugh’s brand, but also to the right-wing talk-radio format he helped to build and the conservative movement he has shaped for decades.

Limbaugh’s attacks on Fluke led to a paradigm shift in talk radio, as advertisers reassessed their support for inflammatory hosts. Limbaugh’s toxic rhetoric helped shine a glaring spotlight on the broader conservative movement’s policies toward women, focusing public attention on the radical right-wing effort to dismantle reproductive rights and the social safety net.

Limbaugh’s unique brand of misinformation was not limited to sexist rhetoric. Throughout 2012, Limbaugh was an architect of the right-wing bubble that pushed conspiracy theories and denied reality, notably helping to create a false narrative that Mitt Romney was on the verge of winning a landslide election. As that right-wing bubble collapsed, so, too, did Limbaugh’s four-year campaign of hoping - and trying to ensure - that President Obama would fail.  

It is for these reasons that Media Matters recognizes Rush Limbaugh as the 2012 Misinformer of the Year. Past recipients include: Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. (2011); Sarah Palin (2010); Glenn Beck (2009); and Sean Hannity (2008).

On February 23, 2012, Sandra Fluke testified before a congressional panel about women’s health care and the benefits of insurance coverage for contraceptive care. During her testimony, she spoke about a woman who needed birth control pills to treat a medical condition, but who was denied coverage by her insurance company and couldn’t afford the medication.

On February 29, Limbaugh began a series of attacks on Fluke, pointing to her testimony and calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” In a complete distortion of Fluke’s actual testimony that was shocking in its ignorance, Limbaugh claimed that she was essentially asking to be ”paid to have sex”:

LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.

Limbaugh continued his screed against Fluke the next day, saying: ”If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.” Over the course of the March 1 and March 2 editions of his radio show, Limbaugh spent nearly six hours directing a hate-filled tirade at Fluke, saying that she was “having so much sex it’s amazing she can walk,” saying that she had boyfriends “lined up around the block,” and saying that Fluke admitted she was “having so much sex that she can’t pay for it.”

Limbaugh’s sexist tirade quickly found support throughout the right-wing echo chamber. CNN contributor Erick Erickson wrote on his blog, RedState, that Fluke “really believes that American tax payers should … pay for her birth control pills so she can have sex.” Conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch wrote on Breitbart.com that Fluke was “testifying that she simply cannot stop getting it on and her inability to control her urges constitutes infringing upon everyone else for a bailout.” Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes posted more than a dozen comments on Twitter supporting Limbaugh’s attacks. Blog posts at National Review Online, Hot Air, and NewsBusters also defended Limbaugh’s points.

But outside the right-wing media bubble, Limbaugh was savaged from a variety of sources. Republican and Democratic congressional leaders as well as commentators from the left, right, and center all offered criticism for what Sen. John McCain called comments that were “unacceptable in every way.”

While Limbaugh began publicly denying that his show was suffering from the loss of advertisers, privately he was going into crisis management mode. The New York Times reported in March that he hired a reputation and crisis manager. And while Limbaugh was bragging about his ratings on the air, Politico reported in May that his show ”took a significant radio hit in some key radio markets” in the wake of his Sandra Fluke attacks.

Limbaugh’s partners were soon losing millions of dollars as a result of the loss of advertisers. The New York Times reported that less than two weeks after his attack on Fluke, Premiere Radio Networks had lost nearly $2 million in advertising revenue. In May, Limbaugh affiliate Cumulus Media reported losing several million dollars in revenue over two quarters. In August, Cumulus suggested it had lost more than $5 million on its top three radio stations alone due to factors related to the Limbaugh advertiser boycott.

As Daily Beast columnist John Avlon noted: “Rush Limbaugh made the right-wing talk-radio industry, and he just might break it.”

At the same time Limbaugh came under fire for his slut-shaming campaign against Sandra Fluke, it became impossible to separate his misogynistic comments from a larger critique of the conservative movement. 

In targeting Fluke, Limbaugh was specifically reacting to testimony about the benefits of using health insurance to expand access to contraceptive care. That testimony came as conservatives were fighting against efforts to require insurers to provide this basic health care coverage to women. Limbaugh, long identified as a leader of the conservative movement, explained the opposition by likening health insurance coverage of contraception to a woman knocking on his door in the middle of the night and demanding money so she could “have sex with three guys tonight.” Sean Hannity echoed Limbaugh’s explanation of the movement’s opposition, saying that requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for contraceptive care amounted to “the taxpayer bearing the cost of the sex life of students at Georgetown University law school.”

Throughout the year, as questions were raised about the negative effects fringe conservative positions would have on women, Limbaugh was at the forefront. In February, when conservative lawmakers in Virginia came under fire for pushing legislation that would have required women to undergo an invasive ultrasound prior to seeking an abortion, Limbaugh downplayed the concerns. When Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin came under fire for saying it was “really rare” for women subjected to “legitimate rape” to become pregnant, Limbaugh first called on Akin to put the country first in weighing whether to remain in the race. But as it became clear that Akin was going to remain in the race, Limbaugh was quick to move on, touting polling numbers suggesting the Republican Party had forgiven Akin for the comments.

"Everything - except the polls - points to a Romney landslide."

So said Rush Limbaugh on the eve of the 2012 presidential election, an election that has come to be defined by the right-wing media’s absolute denial of reality and embrace of paranoid conspiracy theories in order to convince themselves that Obama would fail to secure a second term.  

When conservatives accused the Labor Department of cooking the books to make the unemployment rate seem lower than it was in order to help reelect Obama, Limbaugh was there. When conservatives warned that pollsters were colluding to unfairly bias their samples in favor of Obama, Limbaugh was there. Limbaugh pushed poll trutherism so far to the fringe that he began stoking fears of violence in the aftermath of a Romney election victory.

Rush Limbaugh did not react well to being proved so wrong and so all wet. The day after the election, he told his audience that “we’re outnumbered” and “we’ve lost the country.” He also suggested that “one of the most outrageous thefts of an election in the history of elections has taken place.” On November 15, Limbaugh declared that “freedom did not win in this election.”

But government did work. Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been credited by experts with increasing economic growth, creating jobs, and lowering unemployment. The auto rescue was only made possible with the use of taxpayer money to successfully shepherd the three big auto companies through bankruptcy — saving well over a million jobs. The Affordable Care Act survived Supreme Court scrutiny. And voters opted for four more years.

Rush Limbaugh may still rank at the top of the talk radio industry, but he has also undeniably weakened the very industry he has dominated for so long. The advertiser backlash did not just damage Limbaugh and his business partners short-term; the entire talk radio industry is still suffering massive financial losses due to his utterance of “those two words.”
h/t: MMFA