06/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Limbaugh's Living Large While Radio Boss Clear Channel Implodes

Clear Channel's fall from business grace remains epic in its proportions. Yet Clear Channel's most famous employee, Rush Limbaugh, remains oblivious to it all.

Because last July, just months before the radio economy went into free-fall, Limbaugh's bosses at Clear Channel, who enjoy deep ties to Texas Republicans and who have been at the forefront of promoting right-wing radio, rewarded the turbo-talker with the biggest contract in terrestrial radio history, complete with an eye-popping 40 percent raise over his already gargantuan pay.

The astronomical worth of Limbaugh's eight-year pact: $400 million. The amount of money Clear Channel execs have been trying to scrimp and save this year as they lay off thousands from the struggling radio company: $400 million. Ironic, don't you think?

But here's the real oddity about Clear Channel's pact with Limbaugh: Last summer there was nobody else in a position to steal Limbaugh away. Clear Channel was basically bidding against itself and decided, in the end, to give Limbaugh a 40 percent raise, which included writing a $100 million signing bonus check to celebrate his contract extension. That right: A nine-figure signing bonus. At the time, it was a puzzler. Looking back at it today, the $100 million goodwill gesture, viewed against the backdrop of Clear Channel's doomsday woes, makes no business sense whatsoever. (That $100 million bonus could have saved maybe 1,000 Clear Channel jobs this year alone.)

Read the entire Media Matters column here.