The environment is becoming chilly for commentators who traffic in incivility. Clear Channel’s syndication unit Premiere Networks gave its sales force a list of 98 companies — including major auto makers, insurance companies, and restaurant chains — that want to avoid “environments likely to stir negative sentiment from a very small percentage of the listening public,” according to a memo obtained by Radio-Info.com, a trade news site. And lest there be any doubt, the order says: “They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).” Companies asking to avoid those shows included Ford, GM, Toyota, Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm, McDonald’s, and Subway.
The memo comes as several advertisers have pulled away from Limbaugh’s show: Many cited his on-air characterization of Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute” after the law student asked Congress to require employer health plans to cover contraceptives. Limbaugh later apologized for using the words to describe her. A politically progressive group, Think Progress, says that at least 50 advertisers have backed away from Limbaugh — adding that much of the air time is now being filled by public service announcements. Limbaugh assured his listeners that ”everything is fine on the business side. Everything is cool…There is not a thing to worry about.”