Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There Really IS An Explanation For Everything

Dr. Ron Chusid has speculated a lot, on his own blog, about the real beliefs of outspoken and controversial right wing 'pundits' like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

It appears that there may be more to Beck's particular apocalyptic visions than just the attention it gets him or the ratings.

He may so stridently predict the total economic and social implosion of the United States because he being paid to do so.

Brett Michael Dykes, writing for Yahoo! News, notes:

Yet another controversy appears to be brewing around Fox News host Glenn Beck. Some are accusing him of a blatant conflict of interest concerning his frequent on-air promotion of an investment sold by one of his main advertisers: Gold.

What are the accusations?

(If you'd like to see for yourself: and are the links in the above quoted text)

For a start, Beck is a compensated endorser for precious metals broker Goldline International. They sponsor his radio and tv shows, he frequently endorses them during live segments, he has had their CEO on his radio show as a guest in what amounts to free advertising, and their ads are all over his website. Now that's fine. Celebrity endorsement is nothing new and hardly a scandal.

Here comes the really big but...

When Glenn Beck tells his television audience to pull all their money out of the stock market and buy gold, he does not disclose that he is paid to endorse people who make money when the price of gold rises. This would be a violation of journalistic ethics if Beck were a journalist. It is a violation of Fox News's own policy about their hosts providing on air endorsements during their tv shows.

Even if Beck were not specifically telling his viewers to go out and buy gold, there is still a serious issue of conflicting interest. Beck has been talking the economy down hard since President Obama was elected. He has been predicting economic collapse and apocalyptic chaos. When people are afraid for their livelihood and personal safety, the price of gold goes up. They invest in portable assets they can take with them in an emergency. This means Beck is serving Goldline International's interests every time he forecasts that we'll be eating our neighbors in a few years. He creates a climate of insecurity that profits his sponsor. It raises fundamental questions about the integrity of Beck's show and its content.

Beck's response to criticism?

"So I shouldn't make money?"

The complete lack of compunction in this question is less disturbing than the fact that Glenn Beck doesn't even see the point the critics are making.

It's not about the money, Glenn. Every American has a right to earn their livelihood, as best they can, by means of their pursuit of happiness. We actually put that in writing somewhere.

It's about integrity. Like it or not, there are people in the country who trust Glenn Beck. When he panders to a narrow corporate interest because it profits him, he betrays the people who watch his show and take stock in his word. Personal integrity has value.

Glenn Beck's personal integrity is easy to put a price on.

Just check the price of gold.


Mike Hatcher said...

I remember listening to Glenn Beck since about 2003. Not all the time but enough to get the sense of his beliefs. Glenn started having a gloom and doom message about this economy (with a lot of funny stuff by the way) since at least a year and a half ago. Gold line ads I believe more recent than that. The program also has a sponsor that sells "survival seeds". While Glenn may indeed be motivated by profit, I tend to believe sponsors like Gold line saw Glenn Beck and others as a perfect fit as the Radio hosts were already in harmony with their message. I heard Beck last year do a spoof of one of those classic "car commercials" Talking in that fast excited voice car sales people are known for, something like: It's the Wallstreet going out of business BLOW OUT SALE! Bank of America stock, once $129.99 now just $15.99! Leman Brothers once $44.95 now slashed to $3.75! Everything must go! (I found it hilarious) I don't know, I guess I can't rule out the possibility that GB says things on his show just to pander to sponsors, but I think if he had a completely different message that was popular with listeners, he could find different sponsors that would find what he says or does matching their products. If pandering is going on, I'd suspect people on radio or tv shows pander to listeners more than to products, you can always pitch a different product. I just remembered Rush Limbaugh last year having GM as a sponsor, now that was really odd because he was promoting their cars in his commercials but trashing GM's management in his content. I haven't heard a GM commercial on Rush's radio show in quite some time, I do believe they "broke up".

Chris Richards said...

Goldline has been a major sponsor of Beck's radio program since before he started working in television, Mike. The gloom and doom line may be relatively new, but the Goldline relationship is not. The tv ads are relatively recent, but the relationship with Beck goes back a lot longer than a year and half. His television exhortations to his viewers to buy gold are much more recent.

Sorry, but you're wrong.

Mike Hatcher said...

short answer, ok, I'm wrong. I didn't research it and I don't doubt your research.