LOS ANGELES – Advertisers and some radio stations may have abandoned Rush Limbaugh for calling a Georgetown law student a “slut.” But the CEO of the radio company that distributes Limbaugh’s show, Clear Channel, says he’s sticking with the conservative talk show host, calling him the “king” of radio.
Bob Pittman told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the outrage over Limbaugh’s comments last month was “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio.” He also noted that Limbaugh apologized for the first time in 30 years.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the controversy erupted late last month, Pittman said that advertisers leaving the program did not have a major impact on the company and there has not been a major move among stations to drop Limbaugh.
Until now, media inquiries about the show had been directed to Clear Channel’s talk show syndication subsidiary, Premiere Radio Networks.
“Rush is Rush and radio is radio,” Pittman said.
He added that attempts by rival radio company Cumulus Media to sell a show hosted by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in Limbaugh’s time slot validated Limbaugh’s status as the talk-show leader.
“It basically says Rush is the king,” he said. “Rush is certainly the leader, and we’re delighted to have him.”
Premiere has said that “The Rush Limbaugh Show” is heard on nearly 600 stations by up to 20 million people each week.
The flight of advertisers hasn’t ended. Plumbing fixtures company Kohler Co. became one of the latest to succumb to public pressure to ditch Limbaugh, saying in a tweet on Monday that “we do not support the comments of Mr. Limbaugh and have pulled our advertising from his show.”
Liberal lobby group Media Matters for America has said 58 companies have specifically asked that their ads be excluded from Limbaugh’s show.
That followed Limbaugh’s on-air attack of student Sandra Fluke, who told congressional Democrats that contraception should be paid for in health plans. The talk show host suggested Fluke wanted to be paid to have sex, which made her a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
Just three days later, Limbaugh apologized but also said he was being subjected to a double standard that didn’t apply equally to rappers.