For the first time ever, Rush Limbaugh has declined to ballyhoo his salary as a right wing propagandist after a contract negotiation.
In 2008, Clear Channel could offer the bloviating blowhard $400 million and the whole world knew about it. Now, with iHeart Media skating on the precipice of bankruptcy, Limbaugh’s publicists have nothing to say about how much money he’s making.
But as Eric Boehlert of Media Matters explains, we can be reasonably certain that he took a huge pay cut.
On his Tuesday program, Limbaugh insisted he’s never wanted his earnings to be public knowledge and so he wasn’t going to discuss the details of the extension; “It was a sign of good manners.” But in a 2008 New York Times magazine profile, Limbaugh openly discussed the dollar figures behind his blockbuster deal. (“He estimated that it would bring in about $38 million a year. To sweeten the deal, he said he was also getting a nine-figure signing bonus.”) He also talked about how much his private jet cost ($54 million).
Today Limbaugh announced — while obscuring the details of his new deal — that estimating his annual salary is “kind of a joke” because he doesn’t “earn a salary.” He continued, “I have to perform every quarter, every six months, every year. There’s no salary involved here, so throwing out numbers with this is kind of misleading in the first place.”
[…] “I hear the new deal has a much lower base salary and a much bigger revenue share component,” Darryl Parks tells Media Matters. Parks is a former talk radio host, programmer, and self-identified Republican who writes about the radio industry at DarrylParksBlog. “With the revenue share, the company is lowering its financial risk in signing him.”
Limbaugh had to see this coming. Victim of a debt-loading profit scheme from Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital investment firm, which bought the company in anticipation of Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, iHeart Media’s shares have lost about 97% of their value since 2008, mainly through declining ad revenue and soaring credit payments.
With their debt rated in ‘junk bond’ status, the company simply can’t afford to throw money at Rush like they used to — especially not since 2012, when he inspired a massive advertiser boycott with a three-day tirade against college student Sandra Fluke that helped drag the entire company into the red.
Now seen by advertisers as toxic to revenue, Rush has also been slipping in the ratings for years across many different markets. In Buffalo, New York, for example, “Limbaugh’s program share is down about 14 percent in age 12 plus, 16 percent in the age 25-54 category and 5 percent in the older age 35-64 demographic” over the first 90 days of the year versus just a year before.
As Limbaugh’s ratings declined, stations began dumping his show, and some even switched to new formats that would let them sell commercials again. The bleeding was severe enough that by 2013, the Koch brothers’ FreedomWorks foundation was reportedly subsidizing Limbaugh’s program through a ‘fundraising’ agreement.
At that point, many stations played no advertisements at all during his show, and boycott activists had been reduced to contacting nonprofit organizations whose public service announcements had taken the place of paid ad spots in major markets.
In 2009, Rush Limbaugh was the most powerful man in the conservative universe, able to make or break a Republican politician. Now he’s boosting Donald Trump to a shrinking audience — and making no mention of the hit to his bottom line.
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