CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Limburger cheese is so pungent and overpowering to the olfactory senses that there have long been gags and cartoons about the necessity for gas masks when a package is opened. And everybody knows the old nursery rhyme that ends when the ''cheese stands alone." Now talkmeister Rush Limbaugh -- a big cheese as a radio pundit -- stands alone as the most disliked person among the nation's most recognizable media and journalistic figures.
He owns the highest unfavorable rating in a field of 15 pundits and network broadcasters. Still, he manages to draw big audiences. There seems to be a disconnect -- he's unpopular yet Americans tune in.
In fact, broadcaster Limbaugh wins the the dislike derby by several wavelenghts. The caustic, conservative, pudgy, rich and extremely opinionated broadcaster has a "very unfavorable" number, 41%, that makes FOX News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 23%, look like a saint. Ann Coulter's "very unfavorable" is 24% -- the conservative potty-mouth polemicist doesn't get anywhere near Big Cheese Limbaugh. Coulter raised a big stink by using an anti-gay slur against former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, a slur that has cost Coulter newspaper clients and made her a pariah in some rightwing circles. Looks like the stink couldn't overpower the limburger effect.
Limbaugh's overall unpopularity rating stands at 62%, which is a Mt. Everest peak that no one else among the media's Big Feet come anywhere near scaling.
The polling on Media Favorables/Unfavorables was conducted by Rasmussen Reports and released last week as part of its routine tracking of the 2008 U.S. presidential race. Rasmussen found that politicians as a rule were better liked than so-called journalists, and that Limbaugh stunk up the numbers.
"Ideology doesn't appear to be the determining factor when it comes to ratings for reporters. While (Katie) Couric tops the list of favorables, Bill O'Reilly is in second place at 44%. The highest unfavorables are earned by Rush Limbaugh (62%) and Larry King (46%)."
Couric also had the highest favorable (48%) but was way lower than former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led all with a 70% rating. Limbaugh is heard by some 20 million Americans each weekday and the reach of his show is said to have saved AM radio. Limbaugh has a big Web site, too, that is HERE.