October 20th, 2009 20:47 EST
NFL and Corporate America Reject Limbaugh and Beck
by Eric Boehlert
So much for being "impotent and powerless."
That`s how Rush Limbaugh taunted his critics early last week during an interview on NBC`s Today. By the end of the week, after his attempt to purchase the NFL`s St. Louis Rams had crashed and burned in spectacular fashion -- after Limbaugh had been thrown under the bus by his fellow investors -- the talker was railing that his critics, no longer so impotent, had morphed into all-powerful players who tricked the gullible NFL into opposing the talk show host`s ownership bid.
Of course it wasn`t liberals or Democrats or preachers who derailed Limbaugh. It was Limbaugh himself, and his well-documented history of divisive, hateful, and often race-baiting commentary. (e.g. "[I]n Obama`s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering.")
Limbaugh last week learned the overdue lesson that there are real-world consequences for trafficking in hate speech. That there are free-market penalties, including the fact that the NFL decided for itself that it can`t, and won`t, be connected with Limbaugh.
It`s the same lesson Glenn Beck learned this year
hen he discovered that his niche, on-air rants (Obama is a communist-racist-fascist-Nazi) don`t speak to the masses. Instead, they freaked out nearly 100 former Glenn Beck advertisers who have gone on record as refusing to be associated with his show. These are blue-chip, small-"c" conservative advertisers who`ve dropped Beck quicker than a wobbly JaMarcus Russell pass.
For both Limbaugh and Beck, the awkward realization in recent weeks and months is that viewed outside of the dark, paranoid confines of right-wing talk, both men are seen as toxic by the business elite they likely admire the most. It`s like at a teen party in the basement when the lights suddenly get turned back on. Nobody in corporate America, and certainly nobody within the mighty NFL, wants to be seen holding hands with Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.
Of course, a hysterical right-wing media treated the Limbaugh rejection as some kind of clarion call to action, trumpeting his failed NFL vanity deal as a turning point in American history and being "dangerous to the property and free speech rights of all Americans." Limbaugh, of course, was in heated agreement, exclaiming, "This is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we`re going to have."
In truth, Limbaugh`s humiliating face plant was entirely predictable, because every few years Rush Limbaugh tries to leave the protected bubble of right-wing radio and venture out into everyday American culture ("tiptoeing into the mainstream," Limbaugh calls it), and every few years the reaction is swift and unambiguous -- get lost!
Click to Continue Reading Boehlert`s Column: http://mediamatters.org/columns/200910190031
Eric Boehlert is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush (Free Press, 2006) and Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, 2009). He worked for five years as a senior writer for Salon.com, where he wrote extensively about media and politics. Prior to that, he worked as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. Boehlert has a bachelor`s degree in Near Eastern studies from the University of Massachusetts and is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America.