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 . 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: http://mediamatters.org/research/200912020029 and http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1209/Becks_cross_of_gold.html 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.