Numbers are starting to leak about the damage that Premier (think of it as Tea Party Radio network) is taking, thanks to their decision to base an entire business on broadcasting hate speech over publicly owned airwaves to mindless drones that just want to be told what to think and do. In monetary terms, the magic number seems to be close to $2 million in lost advertising just in the two weeks since the boycott began.
Although Premier is talking a good game about how this is more annoying than it is damaging to their business, consider this: $2 million in two weeks would add up to $50 million per year in lost advertising, if the boycott holds. Limbaugh is costing premier $33 million per year and reportedly holds a contract worth $400 million over eight years.
Do the math.
Brian Stelter is also reporting that the right may go after someone on the left in retaliation for the Limbaugh boycott. This is important for a couple of reasons.
First, it just shows how petty and superficial the right is when it comes to serious issues like the bounds of civil discourse and the broadcast of hate speech over publicly owned airwaves. A logical response would be to fight the boycott and support Rush Limbaugh, which would accomplish the assumed goal of keeping their guy on the air and reestablishing society's long tolerance of right-wing hate speech as if it were acceptable conversation. Going after a liberal host in an eye-for-eye retaliation doesn't accomplish anything meaningful. In fact, it would only further the liberal argument that pure pundits have gone too far and taken too many liberties with heated rhetoric, proving there is a line to be crossed at which point society will punish you through non-governmental means for being a raging asshole.
Second, the possibility of the right going after Al Sharpton shows how amazingly weak and fractured the right has become. Sharpton may still be somewhat decisive, but he's cold leftovers with no meaningful national conversation-defining media influence. When Rush Limbaugh speaks, the right listens. Not just the far-right base, but professional Republican politicians, right-wing think tanks, political operatives and power brokers. Limbaugh has the power to define the ground rules and terms for national debates, which is one of the reasons the backlash recently has been so severe.
This isn't some guy writing on Blogspot for his 50 readers. Despite the total lack of actual thought, Limbaugh is what one might call a traditional thought leader on the right. He says it, several million people think it, and off to the races we go. I don't know if Al Sharpton has ever had that kind of influence, but he certainly doesn't have it now. We're talking about a middling cable pundit with an audience a tenth (or even 20th) the size of Limbaugh's – and that's probably being generous to Sharpton – that is probably more loathed by the professional left than the general right.
It's as if a bully on the right got put in his place by an adult, who then decided to prove his chops by shoving an eight-year-old girl to the ground.
This bullshit has been going on for two weeks now and not only has there been no response from the right to stop the bleeding, there hasn't been a counter attack of any kind, much less one that was carefully coordinated. Perhaps that's because such things usually germinate in such dark and ugly places as Rush Limbaugh's brain, and now the right has essentially been de-balled. But I think it's probably more complex and a lot more encompassing. The right has been choking pretty hard since losing the payroll tax cut fight. No leader has emerged in the 2012 GOP nomination fight. Mitch McConnell has been repeatedly embarrassed by the far right-wing of the House GOP caucus. John Boehner, being in the Senate, has been the Democrats whipping boy on DADT repeal and tax cuts. The RNC chairman seems to be hiding under his desk. Polls routinely show Americans disagreeing with the GOP on a laundry list of policies like taxes and Afghanistan. The contraception controversy was supposed to ignite the GOP base the way Bush did with same-sex marriage in 2004. Only that blew up in their face and turned into another substantial – and mostly accidental since Democrats can't do things right on purpose – win for the guys in blue.
And then there's the improving economy, which is gutting the one and only argument the GOP had that resonated with voters in 2010.
All things considered, what you end up with is a right-wing that's scared, angry, and hurting pretty badly. That goes a long way towards explaining why the 2012 candidates are transforming into raging lunatics that'd look more at home running for President of the Taliban, and the right-wing smear machine flailing about after the fall of Beck facing the prospect of Limbaugh being chopped down to size, if not taken out of the game altogether if this keeps up for any length of time.
It really ought to give people like Anthony Weiner pause, to wonder if they should jump right back into the game. When the only powerhouse on the left in town is Matt Drudge, this could signal the end of an era for the right's bully machine.