Cenk bets $10,000 that Rush cannot prove massive audience size

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 9:12 EDT
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Current TV host Cenk Uygur talking about Republican radio host Rush Limbaugh on Monday, March 5, 2012. Screengrab via Current TV.
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Current TV host Cenk Uygur said Monday night that he would pay Republican radio talker Rush Limbaugh $10,000 in a “Mitt Romney-like wager” if he can prove his show’s frequent claim that they get up to 20 million listeners a week.

“You know why the advertisers are leaving?” he asked. “I’ve said this over and over: his ratings are not that good. People always throw around the 15-20 million figure — he gets 15-20 million a day, or a week, or a month, I dunno — you know, we showed you on Friday’s program, those numbers are made up. They originally came into the press from Rush Limbaugh’s chief of staff. There is no basis for them.”

Unfortunately for Cenk, there is a basis for them other than Limbaugh’s people: Talkers Magazine, which bills itself as “the Bible” for talk radio enthusiasts, compiles Arbitron data twice a year as reported by individual stations, putting out a regular list of who’s who in the jawing business.

While the data only represents a survey of their best projections, they claim estimate metodologies are based upon “a significant sample” of the radio listening population, even though they “do not represent exact Arbitron or any other ratings service totals.”

Talkers Magazine places Limbaugh atop the heap at 15 million listeners a week, with fellow Republican opinion host Sean Hannity nipping at his heels with 14 million. Pulling up third place is Republican shock jock Michael Savage at 9 million, followed by Republican conspiracy host Glenn Beck at 8.5 million.

Even so, that wasn’t Cenk’s real point.

“You know who owns his company?” he asked. “Well, let me show you. Premiere Networks is his syndicator, and Premiere Networks is owned by ClearChannel, they’re a subsidiary. And who owns Clear Channel?  Oh, well you look at that: Bain Capital and Thomas Lee bought them in 2008 in a leveraged buyout of ClearChannel Communications. So, Bain Capital is ultimately Rush Limbaugh’s boss. That goes to explain why he hasn’t been very tough on Mitt Romney either.”

This video was broadcast by Current TV on Monday, March 5, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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