Rush Limbaugh's ratings took a hit in certain key markets last month after the Sandra Fluke "slut" controversy, reports Politico. The shock jock's rating's fell 27% in the vital 25-54 demo in New York City, 40% in Seattle-Tacoma, 35% in Jacksonville, and 31% in Houston-Galveston. "Clearly Sandra Fluke isn't the only one who didn't like Rush calling her a 'slut' given how many viewers that comment incinerated," says a radio industry insider.
But not so fast, say Limbaugh defenders, who note that his ratings are only evening out after a Fluke boost: "The most likely reason for these shifts is that Limbaugh talked about Sandra Fluke at the beginning of March, so it brought in a lot of non-regular listeners," says another insider. "Now that the issue has more or less passed, those people aren't listening anymore." Radio relies on the Portable People Meter, which tracks only a small number of listeners—so a minor shift can swing monthly ratings in a big way.