Right Wing Desperate to Prove Limbaugh Strategy Not Working

The right-o-sphere is showing its big heart these days by trying to help the Democrats out of this whole Rush Limbaugh mess they’ve wandered into.  Since this thing started, conservatives have been proclaiming just how badly this will blow up in the Democrats’ faces.

Not content to wait until it actually does (or doesn’t), the right has manufactured its own evidence of said backfire.

My colleague at The Political Machine, Mark Impomeni, reports today that Rush Limbaugh’s ratings have doubled since the start of Operation Rush.  His claim is solid, in that a reliable news source printed the claim, so Mark’s hands are clean here, at least from a sourcing standpoint.

The sloppy reporting award here goes to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, who makes the claim in the opening paragraph of his article:

By one measure, Rush Limbaugh is a clear winner this week: His ratings have nearly doubled since his feud with the White House burst into the media limelight

This is a specific, measurable claim.  The word “ratings” is not some kind of pliable, esoteric concept.  It refers to a specific type of measurement.  So, what ratings was Kurtz using?  Arbitron?  Nielsen?  Zagat?

“The people who love him are a very small segment of the public,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, whose research indicates that Limbaugh’s weekly audience has spiked from 14.2 million to about 25 million since the controversy escalated. “A lot of people still think he’s a shock jock, a hatemonger (ed. where’d they get an idea like that?), a right-wing radical, or hold his personal baggage against him.”

Here’s how strong Harrison’s “research” is: His own magazine wouldn’t cite it without sourcing the quote to Kurtz’s article!  He’s the publisher of “Talkers” magazine, but they didn’t publish the “research,” quoting their own publisher from another publication.

In an article published by the Washington Post, Harrison cites Limbaugh’s spectacular estimated increase in audience as skyrocketing from 14.2 million listeners per week to somewhere in the 25 million range.

Even if Harrison’s figures come from someplace other than his ass, they do not qualify as “ratings,” and do no constitute a “near doubling” of anything.  Limbaugh’s imaginary “ratings increase” is in the 76% range.  They only “rounded up” by about 4 million listeners.

Keep in mind, too, that Harrison uses his “research” to make the point that it’s a “great time to be a radio advertiser.”  As the publisher of a radio trade magazine, he’s invested in inflating the Limbaugh effect.  The magazine has not returned requests for comment or documentation of Harrison’s “findings.”

I can’t fault Mark or the blog he linked to for amplifying this lie, as it was given legitimacy by being reported in  a real newspaper, but I can fault Kurtz.  This was worse than sloppy reporting.  This was a lie.

The right is jumping the gun and overselling the notion that Operation: Rush is backfiring, which tells me they’re afraid.  Very afraid.  The fact that Rush feels the need to play victim to Barack Obama, whom Rush called Massuh to Al Sharpton’s slave, indicates that He is equally desperate to talk his way out of this.  Sorry, Rush, no cigar.

Note:  The right is quick to debunk anti-Rush lies, as am I.  Let’s see what they do with this.

(More on this at AOL)

Talkers Magazine’s Michael Harrison has responded to my request for comment.  You can see the whole thing at AOL, but here’s the money quote:

Keep in mind, I was only referring to Limbaugh’s numbers this past week during the extraordinary media frenzy about him and that Talkers magazine is not in the business of selling ratings. They are only our thumbnail estimates based upon our contacts in the field, tracking of Arbitron estimates and understanding of the business. We make no claims as to “scientific” accuracy.

This is exactly what I’m saying, Harrison never represented this figure to Kurtz as “ratings” data. WaPo has a story up today that says that estimating Rush’s actual audience size is damn near impossible, even mentioning Kurtz’s story, but with no retraction.  Just because radio ratings suck doesn’t mean you can call a guesstimate “ratings.”

Update 2:  Harrison responds to my followup question, “To clarify, is it safe to say that the information you gave to Kurtz were not “ratings,” and were not arrived at in the same way that ratings are?”

Again, full text is at AOL, but he’s confirming that these are not ratings:

Yes, they are not “ratings” per se (as in Neilson or Arbitron). They are
Talkers magazine’s estimates of audience figures based upon our interpretation



  1. Rush is just doing a dance to distact from the investigations into Bush/Cheney/Rove – he’s paid to take some heat.

  2. Another factor worth considering vis-a-vis Limbaugh’s supposed spike in the ratings:

    Most of his audience tends to be well outside the major metropolitan markets–the so-called “Real Americans,” a/k/a “Fundamentals of the Economy,” resident in such bastions of “Real America” as Podunk Center, Doo Wah Diddy and the Park & Flush Trailer Park.

    Usually making up for the want of real jobs (and realistic job skills to so qualify) by an arrogant delusion of True Patriot Love in All Thy Sons Command common among the Lower Classes as make up these presumed “Fundamentals.”

    Which, in the advertising department (as matters the most in our “morally superior” broadcasting systems), is especially appealing to the dishonest, the fraudulent and the otherwise questionable–“work-from-home-online” schemes, “stimulus grant” offers, precious-metals dealers downplaying the risks of investment, that sort of Mickey Mouse.

  3. It is really wonderful to see that a part of the collateral damage from the whole Limbaugh dustup has been a hard look at radio ratings. Just as the “intelligence test” purveyors when pressed ultimately claim: “Intelligence tests measure what intelligence tests measure,” the radio ratings services will fall back on, “They’re just a relative measure used by advertisers to determine WHICH stations to buy when a radio purchasing decision has already been made.”

    The big trouble with radio ratings is they’re paid for by the radio stations themselves and the ad agencies who make a living placing advertising. This is the same system that has worked out so well for us for FDA drug approval and patent applications.

    With the diary-based research, the bar is so low as to what constitutes a listener that people are included who couldn’t even understand the words in a commercial. That’s one reason the “people meters” are being fought by some station owners. The only thing worse to the station owner than accurate research is paying talented people to host radio programs locally in real time. Such is the sorry state of radio.

    But I’ve got to side with Harrison in this one, because ratings are so bad that today’s radio folks spend a lot of time with their ears to the ground, reading tea leaves, and doing whatever they can to figure out what their audience is.

    I’m sure Rush’s numbers are way up. But its probably not with people who translate into potential buyers for the crap radio is pitching these days. But in the end its not really how many people are listening, its who they are and what they think about what they hear.

  4. Well, this story would be even stronger if it came with a table of the published ratings in the significant timeframe. Do they show any strong increase at all?

  5. Good job there–that was convenient hyperbole, nothing more. Amazing you could get Harrison to admit that his ‘ratings’ weren’t ratings, not that he’ll apologize for flat out bullshitting the WaPo readers. Score another tiny victory for us partisan, unprincipled bloggers.

  6. […] So, leave it to Tommy Christopher to give the liberal blogs just what they were salivating for: a story in which he accuses Howard Kurtz of making the whole thing up. […]

  7. I strongly suspect that all the historic R-Wing promoting ratings were fake for the past… from the time FOX news started through now.

  8. Gray,
    there is no table, that’s what the guy is saying.

  9. I guess Kurtz is not a very Reliable Source.


  10. Great piece…and plenty of good gathered info on the blustering Rushbo’s claims…

    If interested, here’s a piece I wrote and posted yesterday, aptly comparing Limbaugh with 1930s radio fascist screamer Father Coughlin — who, despite being the country’s perhaps 2nd-most-popular person at the time (behind only FDR) is now almost completely forgotten (AND his audiences at the time were at least DOUBLE even the high-end inflated numbers that Rush throws around…AND this is when the US was about one-third less populous than it is today)…


  11. A bunch of liberals farting in a closet whining about RUsh Liimbaugh…Perfect because the more Liberals talk about a radio talk show host, the more we get to point out what they don’t want to talk about and why…The Obama Economy…

  12. BTw boys..congrats to your leader on breaking that 90 year old record…Obama’s Market Decline Worst For a New President in 90 Years.

  13. Tommy, you’re enough of a threat to Rushbo’s ego that a poor widdle racist virgin Dittohead showed up earlier tonight just to attack you!

    By the way, Dittos, I hope you never read what David Frum has to say about you.

  14. OBAMA will create more new conservatives than Carter did. Rush wants Obama to fail?? OMG?? Yoiu Liberals prayed each day for defeat in Iraq. You begged to photograph coffins of fallen soldiers to use as propaganda. You wanted Bush to fail and any of you that denies it is a LIAR.

  15. On the otehr hand, everyone’s now talking about this instead of the real brains…sensationalism is what works in America.

  16. Phoenix Woman LOL

  17. Tommy,

    Good luck to you in your endeavors, you have worked hard to get where you are! You are an inspiration to all of us Political junkies!

    I have so enjoyed your posts on PM and look forward to many here at DD…

    Im considering making some political moves in my area…city councel maybe…if I do, I’ll let cha know!

    Keep it real America!

  18. damn, spelling is lost at this hour, but you get me Im sure

    Live it up America!

  19. So, the right talking up Rush’s increased ratings shows they are panicked, but you posting, basically “nuh-uh, they are not up THAT much” means what exactly?

    What radio broadcaster would be unhappy with a 70% increase? I think even the “reality based” community will have to grant Rush sure isn’t LOSING listeners over this. Meanwhile, Obama’s numbers continue to nose-dive, the stock market is tanking, the Obama Admin commits gaffe after gaffe and now there’s the story from Dem staffers that he’s in over his head, that he can’t cope, that he’s incompetent and he has no answers for the problems plaguing our society.

    And Rush’s ratings are up, ok, let’s give him FIFTY percent if you like. So, who is the loser here?

    I always suspected Obama had nowhere to go but down, that all he could do was give a speech but he was inept at actually DOING anything, since he has never done anything but write his own autobiography in his entire life other than campaign for office. Now we find out without his teleprompter he’s as incoherent and simple-minded as, dare we say, Dubya Bush?

    hehehe good times. And it’s only going to get better when the press jumps on the band wagon, have exhausted the “st. obama” stories, plus embarrassment setting in.

    one term barry. 😉 wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  20. Michelle, I say go for it!

  21. Conservatism is dead.

    This whole debacle is just what the American people need to experience: the charlatanism that is the GOP.

    The only thing they can do is attack. They are bereft of any new ideas or policies or philosophies. They have nothing to offer the average American.

  22. http://www.HushRush.org

  23. Remember when the country was headed for disaster, no one had an idea of what to do, or was afraid to do it, or simply didn’t want the responsibility. Now that there is someone (President Obama) trying to do something, everyone has an opimion on why it won’t work. Get this, the last president screwed up so bad, that the American people didn’t want another caucasion person running the whitehouse and were willing through their votes to allow someone else the opportunity to straighten things out. So all you naysayers, sit back, shut up, and let the process work. America was already sliding down the tube before the President took office. I do understand that your level or lack of education has cost you to fall behind in civility, technology, and our country’s and world’s changing times. Everyone does not need to know that you’re an idiot, Mr. Riley, Mr. Limbaugh, and that strange group of reporters from Fox news. Careful, your shirt collars are real low and we see your neck.

  24. Got a little carried away in my rush to post the comment. We’re forgiven right? The word is “opinion”, thank you.

  25. If you love Rush, you’re a fascist.
    If you loved Bush, you’re a fascist.
    If you made excuses for the neo-cons, you’re a fascist.
    If you love AnnCoulter, Hannity, Ingraham,Conway, O’Reilly, Savage or any of the other winger bloviators, you’re a fascist.
    If you are ok with a million Iraqi dead, you’re a fascist.
    If you are ok with nearly 5000 American dead and 100,000 wounded, you’re a fascist.
    If you pine for a ‘Christian’ administration, you’re a fascist.
    If you’re ok with starving the poor because you think they are lazy, you’re a fascist prick.
    If you’re ok with your leader stealing and forging another nation’s documents to excuse an illegal war, you’re a fascist
    No more excuses for fascists.
    If you don’t know what’s going on by now you are either
    totally ignorant, or a fascist, maybe both.
    And you call yourself an American?
    Lucky for America you guys are just a tiny powerless minority.

  26. Totally forgiven

  27. Rush Limbaugh? He’s been at this for years, and the only people that listen to him are his flock… Why would you bother with him? He’s adding nothing constructive to the solution that will move this country forward. His strategy, is as most, divide and conquer. Let’s not give him any play on our side of the aisle….please?

  28. […] Right Wing Desperate to Prove Limbaugh Strategy Not Working The right-o-sphere is showing its big heart these days by trying to help the Democrats out of this whole Rush Limbaugh […] […]

  29. Thanks Tommy, read your stuff also. After a while the political talk gets way out there and while reading it one can sense an urgency to stop due to carry over. The wacky stuff has a tendency to ease over into your mind and it begins to sound plausible. No fear, as always, its just a gimmick to make the reader distracted from the truth. Sort of a western guy myself, I believe in taking them out back and shooting them that’ll teach them a lesson. Don’t exactly know what the lesson might be that’s taught, but it would be fun. I can remember a time when Hosea Williams, Coleman Young, Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young would literally call those boys out of their names, threatened to and sometimes did slap the hel out of them for doing and saying idiotic things. America probably needs some replacements. Those guys did their thing in their time so we could wake up and smell the coffee. Been woke a long time and its difficult to go back to sleep after seeing all the remaining hatred that still exists. Hatred for no reason, I believe some folks just wake up and immediately decide that they’re going to hate someone today. Life’s not that long, enjoy it!

  30. […] Turn Noses Up at…designerbabyfilms on Right Wing Talking Point Du Jo…tatanka1 on Right Wing Desperate to Prove …Top Posts « Wo… on Right Wing Desperate to Prove …tzugidan on Right Wing […]

  31. Not even 2 months into his presidency, and some think they can predict how long Obama will be in office….can I give you my lotto numbers for the week?

  32. ok, just blew a gasket on PM


  33. Michelle, we literally can tell Limbaugh to stop whipping that horse, he’s dead already. According to some psychiatrists and psychologists some people fail to advance from stage to stage. However, most do. Then there are those that get fixated in one stage or another and can’t move on in relationships, business, or life. They seem to stay in the preoperational development stage (child-like mind) and when there are important things to tackle, they want their ball back. I’m still waiting on my stimulus check and I don’t care what anyone thinks. lol

  34. lol, tatnka, just like someone else I know…waiting on that check…actually, I don’t want it….think I’l just apply it to my tax bill….

    its coming out of my pocket anyway, right?

  35. […] An update to the piece quotes Limbaugh saying he doesn’t even know February’s ratings yet. Media Matters misses out, however, on the thin sourcing that Kurtz did provide. I didn’t miss it, and have no qualms about calling it an outright lie: (from Daily Dose) […]

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