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Second-Hand or First Rate?

Smoke and science: an exchange. Rush Limbaugh's special advertisers. Plus much more, including Bennett and job creation.

5.23.03

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USEFUL CANADIAN INITIATIVE
Re: Joel Miller's Smoking With Al:

Q: What do you get when you compare the health of passive smokers with the health of a control group of other passive smokers, with no confirmation of the home life circumstances of either group for the latter 2/3s of the study, which was designed and funded by an industry with a long history of mendacity and billions of dollars in profits at stake, and the conclusions of which contradict the consistent findings of well-organized studies by credible, independent sources with nothing to gain or lose?

A: Results that The American Spectator thinks we should all take seriously. They can prove it, too -- anyone who disagrees will be called names, so it must be true, although in circles where participants are over the age of ten this is admittedly a proof with little validity .

All this study proves is that secondhand smoke exposure in the home is probably no worse than secondhand smoke exposure anywhere else. Someone who actually spent a bit of time reading the report and its criticisms, including the comments of the editorial board that approved it for publication, would know that. But perhaps your journalists are above stooping to such tawdry tactics as actually doing research to make sure they know what they are writing about.

Perhaps you could next assign Joel Miller to covering the one about the scientist who removed the legs of a flea trained to jump on command. He concluded that the creature had thus been rendered deaf because it no longer responded.
-- Sera Kirk
Vancouver, British Columbia

Joel Miller replies:
Sera Kirk's beef caught me a bit off guard. First, it's not like I said, "Smoking is good for you." It's not like I said, "Passive smoking is good for you." It's not like I even said, "There is no evidence it's bad for you." Here's what I did say: "the jury is still out on the dangers of secondhand smoke." The fact that the BMJ article was published at all is proof of that fact -- debate and discussion continues. Of course, at least one thorn of the thistle under Kirk's saddle is the fact that the BMJ article was published because the study was funded with tobacco dollars.

The argument in short: Tobacco funding = discredited findings. Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, a publication not exactly known for slavish adherence to the Tobacco Industry line, disagrees: "Of course the paper has flaws -- all papers do -- but it also has considerable strengths -- long follow up, large sample size, and more complete follow up than many such studies. … We judged this paper to be a useful contribution to an important debate. We may be wrong, as we are with many papers. That's science. But I remain convinced that it would have been wrong to reject the study simply because it was funded by the tobacco industry."

Smith says this as a man who resigned his professorship at Nottingham University because it accepted brass from British American Tobacco. He has no particular love for the Tobacco Industry, just valuable research, which he and others at BMJ considered this study to be. It was peer reviewed and passed muster.

What is ironic is that no one seems to raise eyebrows when studies funded by anti-tobacco interests come back with results -- surprise! -- against tobacco; there's little hand-wringing about bias there. With any subject suffused with politics, the method and results of the argument matter more than the truth of it. Genuine debate is not something valued by many regarding this issue, and Kirk provides the best proof. For Kirk to say that "anyone who disagrees will be called names" just poisons the well. It is a way of casting aspersions while looking honest and innocent -- a tactic that wouldn't withstand scrutiny even in a high-school public speaking course.

TOUGH SELL
Re: Bob Collins' Selling Conservatives:

I also used to wonder why Mr. Limbaugh's show seemed to feature second tier (and worse) advertisers. At the time I was a media sales representative and asked a media buyer employed by a major advertising agency for a major regional fast food chain why she did not purchase ad time on the Rush Limbaugh Show. Since much of his audience was mobile, had attractive income levels, and good prospects for purchasing fast food it seemed like a good fit. Her response was a crinkled up face and a sneering "I would not buy time on that show for any of my clients, ever!" She then went on a short but energetic tirade regarding her personal disdain for his politics and how she would have no part in supporting his views.

Remember, most media buyers at advertising agencies are young and female with recently minted liberal arts degrees. To the extent that they are political at all they do not tend to support policies favored by conservatives. In addition, Limbaugh tends to come across as loud, obnoxious, overbearing, and not a particularly good listener: these are not qualities that young liberal women find attractive. With the power to direct clients advertising dollars in a lot of different directions, it is very easy for these media buyers to simply spend their customer's money elsewhere and not have anybody question why.

Unless companies specifically request that their advertising dollars be spent on media outlets featuring a conservative point of view (and are willing to deal with the mainstream media backlash this would probably create) conservatives will continue to be subjected to pitches for Christy Lane CD's and "performance enhancing" vitamins.
-- Tom Anderson
International Used Truck Center
Charlotte, NC

I've listened to Rush for 13 years! I've bought a Select-Comfort mattress (best mattress my husband and I have ever had), and we just bought our 3rd Bose Wave Radio! We are totally satisfied with them ALL! Thanks for your advertising, Rush!
-- Sandra Longer

Re: "Selling Conservatives," don't worry. I use to have the same feelings about the companies sponsoring AM talk radio.

Up here in Seattle -- what happened to the Internet and why don't you want to buy our jet airplanes? -- those same outfits are now buying time on our top-40 FM stations!

You can "see clearly" (ha, ha) that air time will go where the money is.
-- Steve Neale

I stopped listening to Rush a.k.a. THE MOUTH in 2000. Too many commercials. It was a far more enjoyable show 10 years ago. Clinton's amateurish presidency was in its infancy and the largest tax increase in history loomed with Mandatory Healthcare Alliances (HillaryCare) to follow! Now those were the days "my friends"!
-- Tuned Out

There's a reason that talk radio in general and Limbaugh in particular have niche advertisers -- the Left targets for economic boycotts any mainstream company that dares to advertise on right-wing shows.

Limbaugh can do magic. Snapple and Clean Shower are just two of the advertisers that hit it big by advertising on Rush. But after Snapple was sold to Quaker Oats, which then proceeded to screw it up, forcing brand's sale back to the original owners at a steep discount, its ads never appeared again on Limbaugh's show.

In 1994 the Florida Citrus Commission did a deal with Rush that got the Left howling and got unions to go into action. Here are two reports:

"The NEA announced a boycott of Florida orange juice after the Florida citrus department advertised on the Rush Limbaugh radio show." (Click here.)

See also the Media Research Center's item from 1994 entitled Why Call Limbaugh?

The lesson is clear: If you are a small business and have a new product that might catch the fancy of Rush's audience, by all means advertise on his show. But if you are a large, established business, avoid it like the plague -- the Left's minions will spare no expense to ruin you.
-- Mike Cakora
Columbia, SC

KEEP HOPE ALIVE
Re: The Washington Prowler's Money Masters:

We should encourage Bill Clinton's fund-raising for his library any way we can. Every dollar he raises is one less dollar available for Democratic candidates.
-- Bruce Bartlett
National Center for Policy Analysis
Great Falls, VA

SECOND-HAND NON-SMOKER
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s I Kidman You Not:

Tobacco has been demonstrated to cause cancer and various lung diseases. Even though she eventually kicked the habit, my mother's life was probably shortened by several years by smoking.

The only thing worse (marginally) than the tobacco/government complex are the left-wing fascists who seek to use it as an excuse to run everyone else's life.

Judging from the text, Bob Tyrrell must himself be a smoker whose habit has gone to his brain. Not one of his better efforts.
-- R. D. Murphy
Imperial Beach, CA

COURSE CORRECTION
Re: The Washington Prowler's Flying Peanut Gallery (scroll down):

The smaller plane was still Air Force One (it's whatever USAF plane the President is on). What you meant was the 747 Presidential plane was still at Andrews AFB.
-- unsigned

SINGING BY NUMBERS
Re: Lawrence Henry's Bring Back Word Power:

It would open up 52.6 million new numbers per area code.

And you missed James Taylor's song about flying to California -- forget the name:

"Los Angeles, give me Norfolk, Virginia
Tidewater-4, ten-oh-nine.
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land calling
And the poor boy is on the line." (from memory)
-- John Derbyshire

Mr. Henry writes: "A 1920s whimsy song featured an operator wondering about a fellow whose voice she had found enchanting: 'I'm in love with a man, Plaza Oh, Double Four, Double Three...'"

Correction: not a 1920s whimsy song, but the 1956 Comden and Green musical Bells Are Ringing starring the enchanting Judy Holliday.
-- Rich Rostrom

Lawrence Henry replies: Thank you for the correction. I Googled as much of the lyric as I could remember: "What a perfect relationship...I can't see him, he can't see me..." But no result. I heard the song once on TV when I was a boy.

ANTITRUST THE TIMES
Re: Jeremy Lott's Howelling At the Moon:

Your premise is that there can or should be a successor to The Gray Lady. There cannot be (the brave new world is one in which we get our information from a cacophony of disparate sources) and there should not be (what benefit is there for citizens in one privately owned news source holding so much influence over national policy)?
-- Greg Padgett
Indianapolis, IN

HUNT AHEAD
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s and the "Hunt Country" letters in Reader Mail's Feminist Gentlepersons:

Al Hunt's column in the WSJ provides a real service in letting us know what the liberal talking points will be in the next day. I remember when he was the first one who suggested that Monica Lewinsky was a disturbed young woman telling tales. His comment was echoed in several places. Sadly for him, she then produced the famous "blue dress." He was once an editor of the political coverage for the WSJ and it showed a definite left wing tint. Today, there coverage is not as conservative as the editorial page, but it is a lot more sensible than when Al Hunt was involved.
-- Michael Bergsma

JOB CREATION
Re: John Combellick's "Bennett Roulette" letter in Reader Mail's Feminist Gentlepersons:

Mr. Combellick comments: "...losing $8 million playing slots and video poker...He could have spent the money on any number of good causes, such as giving it to me."

I had the distinct impression that Bennett put $8 million at risk rather than losses of that magnitude, although the spin has certainly tried to give the impression of a $8 million loss. That he put that amount at risk over a decade or so, would still translate to a likely $10,000 a month habit (figuring a 15% take by the casinos) which is certainly affordable to him and legal at that.

That said, the money didn't just go into the pockets of "that most undeserving class of people," the casino owners. Rather, it likely supported five full-time employees within the casino, bolstered the incomes of those that provide the employees services, such as doctors, hairdressers and cashiers, and helped stock the federal and state coffers with additional sales and income taxes. Some people are going to lose jobs thanks to Bennett's swearing off gambling. Here's hoping the tax cut will allow some of the less affluent than he to head on down to the tables and get those people working again.
-- Mark Hessey
Belmar, NJ

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