Advertisers, Rush Limbaugh and the “Shame Cascade”

by John Sides on March 16, 2012 · 16 comments

in Media

A Monkey Cage reader writes:

I realize that this might seem like a partisan-motivated question for the generally non-partisan Monkey Cage, but I was wondering if someone could do a post which would attempt to explain (a) why so many companies have chosen to take their advertisements from Limbaugh’s show after the Fluke Fiasco (i.e. why was it a triggering moment?) and/or (b) what processes underlie advertisement withdrawal as it relates to controversial political speech? My completely uneducated guess would be something like a “shame cascade,” where each additional withdrawal provides more incentive for the remaining advertisers to remove their ads, lest they be seen as more ardent supporters of a controversial speaker. Perhaps there’s some game theory application there? Anyway, I think it would be really interesting, especially in light of the recent controversy with Lowe’s & All-American Muslim on TLC, where advertisement withdrawal was—it seems to me—punished rather than praised. Does the difference come from the nature of the controversy or did Lowe’s just get burnt because the rest of the advertisement pack didn’t move with them? (Both?)

Do any readers have thoughts on this?



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