Thursday, April 07, 2011

Bye, bye Glenny…

Today Fox “News” announced the end of Glenn Beck’s program on its channel. They said in a press release that he'll be working with them “to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News [sic] Channel as well as content for other platforms,” whatever that means; the fact those “projects” are un-specified may speak volumes. So, in light of all this, Media Matters decided to take a look back at some of the, er, highlights of Beck’s time (video above).

Fox “News” boss Roger Ailes had to admit that having some 400 advertisers refusing to advertise on Beck’s show had ultimately done it in: “Advertisers who get weak-kneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech, I get a little frustrated by that.”

The “idiot” he was referring to is Angelo Carusone who, while still in law school, started “Stop Beck” on Twitter and the web to “hold Glenn Beck accountable for preying on racial anxieties, employing vitriolic rhetoric, propagating sexism and disseminating wilful distortions. Our purpose is to urge sponsors to stop supporting Glenn Beck’s brand of hate with advertising dollars.” In the end, almost no one apart from hawkers of overpriced gold would advertise on Beck’s show (the Fox “News” Channel has never had any advertising here in New Zealand).

This effort was not a boycott. Instead, it was an educational campaign, giving advertisers information and letting them make their own decisions. Angelo would simply give advertisers actual examples from Beck’s show and ask them if they wanted to be associated with it. Mainstream brands didn’t. But the ones who remained were not subject to any sort of boycott whatsoever.

The point of it all was to point out that spewing hate, vitriol and wilful distortions has consequences. Glenn Beck was free to say whatever he wanted, no matter how lunatic, and he certainly did (like when ha famously called President Obama a racist who had "a deep-seated hatred for white people."). But he had no right to expect mainstream businesses to bankroll his performances, nor for mainstream Americans to refrain from pushing back. Of course, Beck isn’t the only extremist on Fox, but he is by far the most vitriolic and engaged in the most wilful disinformation campaign.

Media Matters is now reporting that loony 9-11 “Truther” Andrew Napolitano may be Beck's replacement. He’s the guest host in the slot next week. This would seem to make sense—replacing one purveyor of conspiracy theories with another—but even Beck condemned the whole “truther” nonsense (the fact that it’s nonsense is one of the rare things about which the mainstream of both the left and right agree).

So, the need to hold Fox accountable for the nonsense it broadcasts continues. But Angelo Carusone, who now works for Media Matters, shows how effective one dedicated citizen can be. He worked long and hard on the effort. Imagine if we, like Angelo, all stood up for what was right, not just what was “right away”.

Thanks, Angelo. Now, get back to work!


Jason in DC said...

I love the quote from Roger Ailes:
“Advertisers who get weak-kneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech, I get a little frustrated by that.”

Did they force Beck off the air? No. That was a decision made by Fox because the show was loosing money. So, if anyone was stifling speech, it would be Fox.

It also shows that actions have consequences. And that was a push back against the ravings of a lunatic. I won't be sad to see him goose step off the air.

Roger Owen Green said...

If it HAD been a boycott, and I'm not sure it wasn't, what would have been wrong with that? I've boycotted lettuce and orange juice in my time.
Can't say I've bopycotted Beck, tho, since I could never stomach watching him for more than 5 minutes.

Arthur Schenck said...

Jason: Yep, I agree. It's not like they couldn't keep him on the air if they really wanted to.

Roger: I meant it wasn't a boycott of the advertisers. Certainly many people deliberately avoided Beck, or Fox generally, but that didn't mean there was an organised boycott of any or all advertisers. There wasn't even one that was boycotted to make an example of them.

In any case, I think that Beck just got too weird for advertisers AND many viewers, even, given his falling ratings.