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Ex-Limbaugh sponsor says dropping show during Fluke controversy hurt company

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

During the height of the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke controversy in March, software company Carbonite announced it would no longer sponsor the conservative radio host. As CEO David Friend said at the time:

No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.

Liberals touted the action as proof that Limbaugh was becoming toxic and his show was in danger. So how has dumping Limbaugh worked out for Carbonite? Not so well. Turns out alienating Rush’s fans may have been more damaging than alienating his critics. As the blog Legal Insurrection noted today:

On August 1 Carbonite released its 2d Quarter 2012 results, the first full quarter after dropping Limbaugh in March.  The results shocked Wall Street, as Carbonite did not meet its growth targets, causing multiple analysts to drop the target price.  The stock dropped 15% in a day.

What’s more, in a conference call, Friend linked the decline to the Limbaugh action:

Yeah, I’d say it turned out to be a bigger issue than we had anticipated. Because you know at the time there was a lot of noise, I mean we had a huge spike in web traffic around that time just because of all the interest in the whole subject. And it took close to a month for that to sort of die down. And meanwhile our metrics were, we really couldn’t see what was going because there was so much noise around the website that we had no idea what the ultimate impact was going to be.  It turned out to be a bigger hole in our revenue than we had thought when we initially did this.

Friend added that he was “not regretful of the decision. I think things would have been worse had we not done that.” Legal Insurrection’s William Jacobson calls that “laughable” adding: “It’s too convenient now to say things would have been worse, when Friend completely misjudged the impact of dropping Limbaugh.”

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Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner