Rush Limbaugh's Phony Empire Exposed
The business model of radio is matching advertising dollars with ears via content. The model of right-wing talk radio, on the other hand, appears to be matching dollars with mostly phony listeners via fakery and hype.
If you've ever listened to a right-wing talk show and were impressed that a caller teed up a perfect swing for the talk show host, you may have been listening to a setup. For example, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck are syndicated by a company called Premiere Networks. That very company has a secretive voice talent hiring service called Premiere On Call with an ironclad confidentiality agreement:
By joining this roster/agreeing to perform work for Premiere you are also agreeing to keep the type of work that you perform confidential. This applies to information acquired while working for Premiere or any of its affiliates.
Disclosure to any third party, sharing project information or publicizing(including via social media) may be considered grounds for dismissal or further action.
Premiere On Call isn't particularly concerned about how old you are. Much more important—how old do you sound?
Roughly, old [sic] do you SOUND? (Teens-20s? 20s-30s?)
Premiere On Call also inquires about characteristics that would be useful to any radio talk show:
Please describe your voice - include your local or native accent, adjectives might include: gruff, light, clean, crisp, high, deep, textured [...]
Please note any impressions or special skills.
When "actors are hired to read scripts and pretend to be real people," it is all about creating an image. Such shenanigans were exposed months before Rush Limbaugh's Sandra Fluke tirade, but didn't get much notice.
But let us not rehash old news when there are dramatic new discoveries to explore. RememberRush Babes For America? Rush was feeling pressure from the "Nags" (his term for the National Organization for Women), and his new crisis team came up with the idea that they might show off the power of a radio program that (allegedly) reaches 20 million Americans on 600 radio stations. "Rush Babes" was a one-time show-off event; Rush's medium is one way talk radio, not the more chaotic and anarchistic venue of social media. Thus, it should surprise no one that the most recent post on the Rush Babes For America Facebook page was entered on May 23, more than six weeks ago.
Ahhh, but that long ago date is two days more recent than his most recent tweet. That's right, after all the hype about giving away iPads for Twitter followers, the Rush team discontinued use of Twitter almost as soon as they started.
But let's dig a little deeper. The Flush Rush team on Facebook did some exploring, and discovered that (according to the Rush Babes For America Facebook page) Rush's pro-America, rah-rah go USA listener audience is mainly—wait for it—in New Delhi!
As my friend Justin observes, it is possible to buy "likes" for Facebook pages, and it appears that is exactly what the exceptionalist, USA-Number One crisis team for Rush Limbaugh has done. And they didn't even bother to buy their "likes" from the good ol' U.S.A. How do you like them apples, righties?
Those of us who watched the likes on Rush Babes for America tick upward at five per minute, around the clock, at four in the morning as rapidly as at four in the afternoon are not in the least surprised that the Rush empire is an empty and fraudulent shell.
So why would Rush fake Facebook likes, perhaps buy Twitter followers and then not use Twitter, and possibly hire phony callers to tee up his talking points? One possible reason is his demographic. Rush listeners tend to be male, white, and old. (I can say that; I likewise fall into that demographic.) Thus, Rush listeners tend not to be Twitter and Facebook users. What better explanation could there be for Rush launching these social media platforms to mainstream media acclaim, and then not using them?
Note, for example, how many other Twitter users Rush Limbaugh follows: The number is precisely zero.
Note, also, that no one can initiate a new comment thread on Rush Babes ForAmericaother than the Rush team. Rush Babes For America is a show site, not an interactive site. It has precisely one purpose: taunting others with a (fraudulent) number of likes. And of course the mainstream media fell for it—when even our major newspapers are caught using fake bylines, I think it is safe to say that almost no one in the mainstream media does real journalism anymore.
Cenk Uygur has demonstrated that Rush Limbaugh's claimed audience ratings may be false. And we've demonstrated that Rush Limbaugh's Rush Babes For America, and his venture into the Twitter domain, are not what they seem. What about Rush Limbaugh's advertisers? Are they fake as well?
Let us examine one, possibly typical, example. Rush Limbaugh personally vouches for Angie's List; indeed, the company pays him to do so. I have already related how Angie's List has a dishonest business model. Now we learn that:
[D]espite [...] glowing recommendations, ANGI has never been profitable and has historically become increasingly unprofitable with additional growth [...]
[T]he company is operating an unsustainable and broken business model [...]
ANGI's aggressive accounting practices serve to obscure its poor operating performance [...]
ANGI appears to be on track to burn through its entire existing cash reserves in 1-2 years [...]
Does that sound like a company with which you'd like to do business?
If you see Rush Limbaugh's right-wing propaganda as detrimental to the common good, I recommend joining the thousands of citizens and activists who have taken upon themselves the mission of informing Rush Limbaugh's advertisers about his bigotry, his misogyny, his jingoism, and now, his phony persona. The Stop Rush folks have a database of Rush advertisers (updated around the clock), here.
If you're on Facebook, go here.