NEW YORK — Fans of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show will have to do without the right-wing phenomenon for at least the next 30 days: He’s checked himself into drug rehab.
“I am addicted to prescription pain medication,” Limbaugh said on his Friday broadcast — the last before heading to an unnamed treatment center. The show will continue “with an array of guest hosts you have come to know and respect,” he told listeners.
Premiere Radio Networks, the division of Clear Channel Communications that distributes Limbaugh’s show, didn’t release guest-host names as it was still putting together a roster.
Limbaugh’s admission of his “dependence on pain pills” followed 10 days of news reports about an investigation by state attorneys in Palm Beach County, Fla. Probe centers on allegations by Limbaugh’s maid that she scored drugs like OxyContin in the black market to feed his habit.
Drugs are only one of Limbaugh’s problems. He resigned Oct. 1 as an analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” three days after he slammed Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, saying McNabb was getting a pass from sportswriters because they want black quarterbacks to succeed.
On his radio show, Limbaugh pulls an average of 20 million listeners a week, more than any other on-air personality, said a spokesman for the commentator. Those numbers are likely to fall off during his time away.
But “even if Clear Channel lost Rush for a whole year, it would barely register as a small blip on the company’s bottom line,” said Harry DeMott, a media investor with Gothic Capital Management.
Clear Channel will pocket nearly $9 billion in revenues this year, and $2.3 billion in cash flow, DeMott said, with 1% generated by Limbaugh’s show.