US ad­ver­tis­ers steer away from Fox’s Glenn Beck show

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING -

IT MAY in the end have lit­tle im­pact on the bot­tom line of Ru­pert Mur­doch’s News Cor­po­ra­tion, but a fast-gath­er­ing boy­cott by some of Amer­ica’s best­known conglomerates of Glenn Beck, a con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tor on his Fox News chan­nel in the US, is beginning to take on em­bar­rass­ing pro­por­tions.

Beck joined Fox News in Jan­uary and has quickly es­tab­lished him­self as one of the net­work’s stars by feed­ing the po­lit­i­cal prej­u­dices of its mostly con­ser­va­tive au­di­ence.

In­deed, his daily as­saults against Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and, in re­cent weeks his health­care plans, have helped Fox achieve record rat­ings.

But Beck, who moon­lights on the com­edy cir­cuit, stepped on too many sen­si­bil­i­ties a few weeks ago when he sug­gested that Obama has a “deep-seated ha­tred for white peo­ple or the white cul­ture”.

He went on: “I’m not say­ing that he doesn’t like white peo­ple. I’m say­ing that he has a prob­lem. This guy is, I be­lieve, a racist.”

Beck made the re­marks af­ter the Obama sug­gested that a white po­lice­man who had ar­rested the black Har­vard law pro­fes­sor Henry Louis Gates had acted “stupidly”.

Spear­head­ing the ad­ver­tis­ers’ boy­cott of his daily pro­gramme is an African-Amer­i­can on­line po­lit­i­cal group called Color of Change. Some 145 000 of its mem­bers signed a pe­ti­tion ask­ing Beck’s ad­ver­tis­ers to stop sup­port­ing him and the re­sponse has been im­pres­sive.

On Mon­day alone, eight new top-brand com­pa­nies said they were join­ing the al­ready long ros­ter of firms no longer will­ing to have their spots aired dur­ing Beck’s show. They in­cluded Wal-Mart, CVS and Best Buy.

A spokesman for the chemist CVS said: “We have in­structed our ad­ver­tis­ing agency to in­form Fox to en­sure Glenn Beck’s pro­gramme is not part of our ad­ver­tis­ing plan.”

Other com­pa­nies that had al­ready agreed to spurn the show in­cluded Proc­ter & Gam­ble, Ra­dio Shack and Geico. None of th­ese ad­ver­tis­ers have said they will boy­cott the Fox chan­nel en­tirely and thus are likely sim­ply to shift their dol­lars to other pro­grammes on the net­work’s sched­ule. But their ac­tions are beginning to res­onate on the na­tional stage, if only be­cause it is prov­ing to be suc­cess­ful.

It also comes at a time when the tone of pub­lic de­bate may have be­come more acer­bic than ever be­fore as op­pos­ing sides squab­ble over health­care.

Beck and some of his ri­vals, in­clud­ing Lou Dobbs on CNN, seem to be com­pet­ing over whose in­sults about the pres­i­dent, Lib­er­als and Democrats are the most ou­tra­geous and rude. Dobbs dis­tin­guished him­self by sup­port­ing claims that Obama is not, in fact, an Amer­i­can.

“It’s rare for a cam­paign di­rected at a TV show’s ad­ver­tis­ers to be this suc­cess­ful,” said Color of Change’s James Rucker. “But we won’t stop here. We’re go­ing to con­tinue reach­ing out to Beck’s re­main­ing ad­ver­tis­ers.”

Fans of Beck – and they are le­gion – are fight­ing back. They have started a web­site called De­fendGlenn.com, and it boasts a “Turn­coat List” of boy­cotting com­pa­nies and urges vis­i­tors to con­tact them.

“Tell them how big your fam­ily is and what you buy, and how much you used to spend on their prod­ucts each month … and how you bought their com­peti­tor’s prod­uct to­day,” it ad­vises.

Fox News has had lit­tle to say of the boy­cott. It did, how­ever, is­sue a state­ment soon af­ter Beck made the al­le­ga­tions of racism, not on his reg­u­lar show but on a morn­ing pro­gramme called Fox and Friends, say­ing Beck had “ex­pressed a per­sonal opin­ion, which rep­re­sented his own views, not those of the Fox News Chan­nel”. – The In­de­pen­dent

RIGHT WING: Glenn Beck

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