It’s almost as if you can’t make millions of dollars spouting tired sexist hate on commercial radio anymore.
Here’s the difference between Bill Maher and Rush Limbaugh in case you’ve watched this video and are still wondering.
Forget that Maher is funny. Forget that he’s not on commercial television. Forget that he’s partisan out of necessity, not by design. (He accurately says, “Over the last 30 odd years, Democrats have moved to the right and the right has moved into the mental hospital.”) Forget that beyond a few dumb words, what Maher fights for are policies that generally ignoble women.
Here’s what it comes down to: Bill Maher has used cruel and sexist words to describe powerful Republican women. Rush Limbaugh is cruel and sexist.
Rush used his massive public platform to casually slander a law student who had chosen to speak out for women who cannot afford basic reproductive health care. He did it in the most demeaning manner possible betraying again and again his cruelty and his sexism.
By the end of his ranting, he’d given Sandra Fluke something of a platform to defend herself because millions of Americans and the President of the United States had spoken out in her defense. But that was unintentional.
His intent was to shame Sandra Fluke and women in general out of speaking out for decent health care.
Few Republicans were willing to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. George F. Will said, “They want to bomb Iran, but they’re afraid of Rush Limbaugh.”
Of course Mitt Romney turned out to be the craven of the bunch. He refused to condemn Rush in any way and now is cynically attacking Maher.
On Twitter, there was no such cowardice. Outrage prevailed.
Online leaders including @Shoq, @AngryBlackLady , @KrystalBall1 helped focus the anger in the most practical direction: a complete pressure campaign to get all Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers to drop the show. BoycottRush.org was launched. Within days, the man behind @StopBeck had become @StopRush.
None of this was planned, of course. Who could predict Rush would veer from his usual bland racism and sexism into a rant that no one could ignore? Only @DemocratMachine.
Unfortunately for Rush, this controversy gave many of his advertisers their first chance to listen to Rush’s show. And they begged, “No mas!”
Rush issued a weak apology for the words he used. If he were Bill Maher, that would be enough. (BTW: Maher has apologized for the words he used, too. As he should have.)
But in his apology, Rush compared basic women’s health care to free track shoes for kids. This is no criminal offense. But it reminded everyone of why Rush does not deserve the luxury of an advertiser-supported platform on free radio.
The musicians were next, demanding their music not be used as a soundtrack for Rush’s lame hate.
140+ advertisers lighter, Rush’s bosses are hoping a two-week suspension of national advertising will give the situation time to cool off.
He has to believe this is true because the reality is too scary to process. Through Twitter, through Facebook, what social media expert Scott Monty calls a “vocal minority” (as if that’s a bad thing) will not let the people who sponsor Rush Limbaugh escape the fact that they they aren’t helping their brand. And this is not going to end quietly. Ask Glenn Beck.
Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America, which has put out an excellent book on right-wing propaganda The Fox Effect, points out that NONE of the advertisers who left Glenn Beck’s show ever came back.
Twitter, I argue, can shape ideas and change the world. This is because the 1% and their fan club will never be as loud as the millions of people who are sick of Rush Limbaugh’s dumb hate. It’s not brave or patriotic. It just makes life easy for those who already have it easy and nearly impossible for the rest of us. And I hope he fails. ;)