Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The "Stop Rush" Movement



The following post at Dailykos.com by "Proglegs, "Stopping Rush: A Modern David and Goliath Tale," a plan to stop Rush Limbaugh - by a lone progressive, a graphics artist, and some volunteers - is a relatively lengthy piece, but well worth a read AND WORTH KEEPING AS AN ACTIVIST'S ORGANIZATION MANUAL:

"Stopping Rush: A Modern David and Goliath Tale"

"The truest characters of ignorance
are vanity and pride and arrogance."
--Samuel Butler
"Rush Limbaugh has been spouting bile unchecked for many years, but the reaction to his obscene tirades against Sandra Fluke in February of 2012 set off an unprecedented grass roots movement which enters the new year with no signs of slowing. What has come to be known as StopRush serves both to educate often unwitting advertisers of the show about Limbaugh's hateful rhetoric and to offer consumers the opportunity to make informed decisions about where to spend their money.



"I am the lone progressive in a large family of rabid ultra-conservatives. Shortly after news of Limbaugh's hateful attack reached the mainstream, I posted an article about the event on my Facebook page. This led to some ugly sparring with a cousin of mine who finally wrote of Rush's characterization of Fluke as a slut, 'If it walks like a duck and it fucks like a duck, it's probably a duck.' I was incensed. My knee-jerk reaction was to create Facebook group called "Join the Fight to Flush Rush Limbaugh" motivated 99% out of a juvenile desire to poke my cousin in the eye. Members immediately began to flood into the group.

"For the first few days of March this group's purpose was a little ambiguous. It served primarily as a place for people to post the latest news about the scandal, share links to various anti-Rush petitions that were springing up like mushrooms, and commiserate about Limbaugh's douchebaggery. We filed complaint after complaint with the FCC and contacted legislators about the presence of this offensive program on Armed Forces Radio Network. Members also began to identify and contact sponsors of the Rush Limbaugh Show, letting them know about his verbal assault on Sandra Fluke and sending them transcripts and video of it as well.

More on the genesis of the anti-Rush movement and the legacy of Richard Myers:

"It quickly became apparent that the FCC wasn't inclined to do anything, and the letters to Senators and Representatives about AFN all yielded similar dead ends. But we found that many sponsors were receptive to our message. The majority of them had purchased bulk ads and left it to the stations' discretion to determine when to play them. Not only did they have no idea how odious Limbaugh's show was, they were unaware their ad was airing during that 3 hour slot. Faced with a montage of hardcore sexism or transcript of Limbaugh spreading misinformation about Muslim necrophilia, a lot of these advertisers felt it was irresponsible to put their money where Rush’s mouth was and were willing to contact the station and ask that their ad not be played during that time slot. Radio stations understood that they stood to lose a lot of business if they didn't accommodate these requests and were generally willing to do so.



"As we had realized that we could be most effective at peeling away Limbaugh's sponsors we began to reach out to other groups to try to share information and resources. Many websites had sprung up as repositories of sponsor information immediately after the attacks on Sandra Fluke, but in keeping with the average American attention span they quickly became outdated, and none of them functioned as cohesive communities. Media Matters served (and continues to serve) as a high profile Limbaugh watchdog, making lowlights of Rush’s crazy rants available to the public on a regular basis. Twitter activist Shoq helped build a sophisticated online database which revolutionized our data collection and also made the information available to the larger non-Facebook-using StopRush community. The launching of this database marked the beginning of an organized Twitter campaign using #stoprush which has steadily grown over the past ten months and is more active than ever. Flush Rush Facebook now has 5600+ members, of which a sizeable core group spend hours each day working on the project.

"Many of our volunteers across the country monitor the 3 hour program Monday through Friday, identifying sponsors and adding them to the database. This work is not for the faint of heart, but without these volunteers the public wouldn't have any sponsor data at all. We've found that in some cases radio stations will deceive advertisers in an effort to run damage control and tell them the ad is not running during Limbaugh despite what our monitors are hearing. We have begun clipping mp3 versions of the ads and emailing them to these sponsors as evidence (or in the case of Quicken Loans, who consistently advertises on the show but claims that they do not, posted those audio files to the database for public listening). It is no longer possible to hide one's support for the Rush Limbaugh Show.



"Rush Limbaugh, by most measures this country's number one radio personality, once seemed untouchable. He boasts a 400 million dollar contract inked in 2008 and is the owner of his own ironically-named EIB (Excellence in Broadcasting) radio network. But his downward spiral over the past 10 months—although not attributable solely to the work of StopRush—is unmistakable. The StopRush database as of today lists more than 2200 national and local advertisers who have withdrawn their advertisements from his show. And this week a leaked board report revealed that right wing organization FreedomWorks is subsidizing Limbaugh's contract. Apparently Rush isn't as opposed to handouts as he would have us believe.

"So what is different about this time? Limbaugh has been plying this same crafty trade for years, fanning the flames of hatred and fear in order to create buzz and attract simpleminded followers. But he rarely sees any real consequences for his actions, apart from resigning from a brief career as an ESPN football analyst in 2003 due to racially insensitive statements. Why is it that now this permanent campaign to hold him accountable has sprung up? For one thing, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have allowed determined individuals from all over the country to unite and work in a methodical and organized fashion to peel away Limbaugh's sponsors one by one for the last ten months. In the case of our Facebook group, we have become a close-knit group of friends who support each other. We celebrate each others' personal accomplishments, share pictures of our children, mourn each other's losses. And we feel compelled to continue our mission for each other. This real sense of community has enabled us to continue our work on removing Limbaugh's sponsors unabated for ten months. (Italics mine)

"There are mixed reactions to our work. Some advertiser responses are downright nasty (typos left intact to underscore intellect):

"go get fucked , if you do not like him do not listen to his show, get a fucking life, your a FEMNAZI
*

"hi thre CARL, YOUR A REAL PICE OF SHIT, IF YOU DO NOT LIKE RUSH, LISTEN TO YOUR BUDDY HOWARD STERN, I HAVE REOPRTED YOUR EMAILS TO LOCAL FBI AGENT AND POLICE DEPT, GET A RAEL ILE YOUR A PIECE OF SHIT
CHUCK

*

"Don't worry. If sales decrease because of the ad placement, I'll certainly remove the ad. However, people so easily offended by mere words from someone to whom they show so much hate (regardless of rather I agree or disagree with what was said), only proves how utterly weak-minded those people are. My wife happens to be a woman, and could not care less about such trivial matters. If Limbaugh was killing babies on the air, I certainly would not air a commercial during his show. But he's not. Words, are just that, words. To make anything more of them is idiocy...and nothing more. Do not contact me again.

*

"If you are who you say you are, then I welcome you to call or come by here to further discuss your accusations. If not, I will simply post your email, along with my response, on our facebook page in order to expose a few thousand people to the intellectual dishonesty of the people with your agenda.

"Please focus your time on getting an actual job.

*

"my clients love rush. He's great for business. You lost the equal rights amendment because of the nags and feminists of the feminazi type. Homemakers mothers and church going women are against you and your ideas. Rush has his flaws, but what liberals espouse is a million times worse. Cicero warned us of the socialist state over two thousand years ago. What you want does not work. Read federalist no.10.

*

"What R U wearing?




"On the other hand, many responses are cordial and appreciative:

"Thanks for letting us know. The views on the Rush Limbaugh show do not represent those of XXXXX and we do not endorse the show or these views. We appreciate your message and hope to see you soon at your favorite XXXXX's location. Thanks and Happy Holidays!
*

"Thank you so much for your e-mail. We had no idea that our ads were running during the Limbaugh show, and we certainly do not want to associate ourselves with him. We are a family owned business and I can speak for myself and our owner, my mother-in-law XXXX, when I say that we find Limbaugh and his comments extremely disturbing and upsetting. Once again, thank you for bringing this to our attention and I will get in touch with KMOX tomorrow regarding this matter.

*

"Thank you for your conscientious message, we appreciate your viewpoint. We have purchased advertising on WFLF-AM in the past, however, we were unaware how often our ads were running during the Rush Limbaugh show. We have now alerted the station that we would prefer our ads to run outside his program.

*

"We would not want to be affiliated with his show. I and my wife hate his show, and my wife despises him (of course she does, she is a woman with intelligence). I think people like him breed hatred, racism and sexism.

"I appreciate the comment, and I agree with what your saying. Have a Happy New Year and may a grand piano fall on Rush's head on New Years at the strike of 12....what a way to start a new year.

"There has been a predictable right wing backlash from the public against StopRush as well. Our volunteers have had their home addresses and telephone numbers posted online or emailed to large groups to invite harassment (in violation of cyberstalking laws). Others have had people contact their employers to try to silence them and some have even received death threats. Our opponents have labeled us thought police and communists, ignoring the fact that the activity of StopRush is an exercise in free speech and that giving consumers information about where businesses are spending their money to allow them to make informed choices about where to spend their money is the very essence of free market capitalism. Most in our movement would agree that Rush Limbaugh has the right to express his hateful view of the world (as do the Westboro Baptist Church, although a petition to label them a hate group has now passed 300 thousand signatures). He just doesn't have the right to a golden microphone on the public airwaves.

The Late Richard Myers


"Richard Myers was one of the earliest members to join our group, and he brought with him a wealth of knowledge. He had decades of experience as a union activist which served us well in organizing and outreach. He was an artist and created a lot of graphics to entertain and inform people on a variety of social and political issues (including Limbaugh). Richard was amazed at the power social media brought to activism and spent hours exploring its possibilities for the StopRush effort. He had a deep knowledge of the radio industry and how advertising worked. His meticulously researched diaries kept new members flooding into Flush Rush Facebook long after the Rush Limbaugh boycott had faded from the 11 o'clock news cycle.

"But perhaps the most valuable resource Richard Myers brought us was optimism. Richard genuinely believed that we could succeed in our goal of removing Rush Limbaugh from the public airwaves, and his infectious confidence kept us going month after month when it seemed Rush was unaffected by all of our hard work.

"I last exchanged messages with Richard the morning of December 13 after he had pulled an all nighter working on what would be his final Kos diary. This is a portion of what he wrote to me:

"'It has become common knowledge that the radio networks are hurting. Both Dial Global and Cumulus have publicly blamed Limbaugh for part of their financial problems. Dial Global stock price has dropped 92 percent from a year ago. Cumulus stock is also down. Clear Channel is private, so we don't know how it is affecting them, but they were already at least 16 billion dollars in debt, and they just laid off hundreds. All three networks are in danger of bankruptcy.

"'Of course Rush has a contract through 2016, so he's not worried just yet. But by summer he will likely lose 40 radio stations. Once that news hits, I think the writing will be on the wall that his best times are long past.'



"Richard died that night at home of cardiac arrest. He was only 61 and had so much left to give. It was an utterly unexpected loss of one of the cornerstones of the StopRush movement. But, although his death was--and is--extremely painful for all of us who had the honor to work shoulder to virtual shoulder with him, it has doubled our resolve. We carry on now not just due to the hateful rhetoric which Limbaugh continues to emit day after day, but to finish what Richard helped start and shape into a beautiful, sustainable social media campaign. Shoq’s database has a talented programmer who is constantly working to make this remarkable tool more efficient and effective. The monitors continue their thankless task of listening to Rush savage anyone who isn't rich, white, male, straight, and American in order to keep the sponsor data up to date and accurate.

"And every single hour of every single day, a tweet, an email, a Facebook message or post, or a telephone call wings its way across the country, spreading the truth about Rush Limbaugh's hateful program. It's a new year, Rush, and we're still here, taking French fry after French fry out of your bag. We're stronger, more determined, and more optimistic than ever. And as Richard said, your “best times are long past.”

*

"Please consider joining our effort to restore civility to the public airwaves. Just a few minutes a day letting sponsors know that their reputation is being associated with hate speech can make a huge difference.

"Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/...

"Online database: http://stoprush.net/

"Twitter: #stoprush

"Limbaugh Petition: Change.org
"ORIGINALLY POSTED TO PROGLEGS ON SUN JAN 06, 2013 AT 12:44 PM PST.
"ALSO REPUBLISHED BY IN SUPPORT OF LABOR AND UNIONS."



The power of a few people can overturn the moneyed-machinations of the Conservative leadership and its propagandists.  And we must reiterate the last paragraph of the essay, "Please consider joining our effort to restore civility to the public airwaves. Just a few minutes a day letting sponsors know that their reputation is being associated with hate speech can make a huge difference."  Radical change always comes from individual leaders and small groups of people, not establishment voices.

Limbaugh has been one of the most effective voices of the Conservative leadership the country has ever known, and possibly one of the most effective propagandists over the airwaves since Joseph Goebbels.  These propagandists must be stopped and action brought to bear against the FCC and any corporations advertising on hate radio and hate cable tv before the long march to criminalizing Conservatism can begin.

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"A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice."

Bill Cosby


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