Politico Publishes False Headline About Rush Ratings

Monday, Politico's "media analyst" Dylan Byers posted what at first glance looked like bad news for radio talk show giant Rush Limbaugh, who has been the target of a boycott after apologizing for comments he made about about pay-for-my-birth-control crusader Sandra Fluke. Byers' headline reads: "Limbaugh takes post-Fluke ratings hit." According to Paul Bond's reporting at the Hollywood Reporter, there's only one problem with Byers' headline: it isn't true.

Byers:

Rush Limbaugh took a significant ratings hit in some key radio markets last month in the wake of the Sandra Fluke controversy.

The conservative radio host's ratings fell 27 percent in the key 25-54 demo in New York City, 31 percent in Houston-Galveston, 40 percent in Seattle-Tacoma, and 35 percent in Jacksonville, according to a selection of the March 29-April 25 Arbitron ratings provided by an industry source.

Limbaugh's detractors attribute the losses to a rejection of the show following his controversial comments about the Georgetown law student.

"Clearly Sandra Fluke isn't the only one who didn't like Rush calling her a 'slut' given how many viewers that comment incinerated," one radio insider said.

Then, finally, Byers includes this as a possibility:

But defenders say that what looks like a decline actually represents a leveling out following increased attention from the controversy.

Well, that possibility is indeed fact, according to Paul Bond:

Reports of Rush Limbaugh Ratings Plunge Exaggerated

The Internet was abuzz Tuesday with leaked Arbitron numbers suggesting the radio talker lost up to 40 percent of his audience in some markets -- but only if the numbers are properly massaged.

Reports circulating online Tuesday indicating a massive drop in Rush Limbaugh’s audience – as much as 40 percent in some markets – might be premature. …

Limbaugh’s audience numbers are registered across several demographics, and where it appears he fared the worst was in the 25-54 age range, which is what most bloggers and journalists were focusing on Tuesday. Of interest to many media outlets was a 40 percent drop in that demo during April in the Seattle market, though many are reporting the decline without noting it came after a 55 percent surge during March in that same demo.

The Seattle data can be particularly misleading when other demographics are considered, because not only did Limbaugh’s audience surge in March in all demographics, but in the broader 12-plus category (and most other demos, including 35-plus, which is particularly important in talk radio) he actually improved on those gains the following month, even as the 25-54 demo dropped significantly.

“It looks like whoever picked this data chose the demographic where Limbaugh was weakest,” one radio insider noted.

Four months ago, Breitbart News exposed a troubling relationship between Politico, a left-wing news outlet that poses as objective, and the anti-Semitic, Soros-funded, tax exempt Media Matters. One of Media Matters primary allies at Politico has always been Byers, a left-wing operative who takes special pride in attempting to -- like Media Matters -- silence conservatives like Red State's Erick Erickson and our own Dana Loesch.

Though he doesn’t mention Media Matters in his piece, Byers' premature and misleading reporting will undoubtedly help the organization in its never-ending fund raising efforts. With a headline on the pages of Politico that falsely declares a complete failure of a boycott to be a success, what more could Media Matters ask for?

I'm sure that's just a coincidence, though, and  any minute now Byers will update the story with the false headline with the facts.

Moreover, this is all about perception in the ongoing intimidation crusade Byers and his Media Matters pals have launched against the right. If this failed boycott looks in any way successful, future advertisers will think twice about jumping on board conservative talk radio for fear of boycotts and all the unnecessary headaches that go along with them. The media is doing the same thing now with super PACs.

Bullies, the whole lot of them.

ADDED: A friend in talk radio emailed and suggested there were better pull quotes from the THR piece regarding demographics, so I've switched them out.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC


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