By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Commerce over conscience

In my latest for the Guardian, I cheer on corporations like Wal-Mart and Verizon Wireless, who may succeed in doing what Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes won’t: force Glenn Beck and his hateful lies off the air.

More: Jeremy Hobson of “Marketplace” interviewed me for a piece on the Beck boycott.

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  1. Steve Stein

    Reading your blog pieces, I hear them in your voice. In reading your Guardian pieces, perhaps due to the British spellings, I hear them as if read by the BBC. Funny how that works.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Looking for a widget that will Brit-ize my columns!

  2. Beck’s ratings are up and there’s a difference between advertisers such as Walmart telling Fox not to run its ads during Beck and telling Fox no more ads. Jim Cramer predicts Beck will get the sponsors back, which could be “Beck’s Bier” given Cramer’s track record for predictions. I’ve blogged on the issue (

  3. lkcape

    Hmmm…. Perhaps the contributing members should boycott WGBH until Dan is removed from “Beat the Press”.

  4. Steve Stein

    I look forward to laughing at your campaign, lkcape. But, by all means, go for it!

  5. Laurence Glavin

    Glenn couldn’t wind up begging for contributions in a coffee can; he’s a Mormon. He’d probably use a wicker basket.

  6. mike_b1

    Sheldon, best use of the word “bier” since Bob Verdi used it as a pun on the old Miller Lite ads to describe the Cubs in the 1980s.

  7. Aaron

    I largely agree but there’s some sloppy reporting in here Dan.

    Color of Change isn’t exactly a Grass Roots organization. Do a Google search. They exist under that DC Podesta/Soros Umbrella of groups. They’re more interested in political victories than some altruistic attempt to force civility.

    Plus, the Gun Nuts in AZ were from a 9/11 Truth Group, not the geriatric talk radio listenership. The Gun Nut in NH was from that FreeState Militia movment in NH. Not exactly the same as some reved up Town Hall protestor.

    This is similar to the canard that those “Hitler/Obama Moustache” posters were representative of the throngs of ObamaCare Protestors. They were almost all Lyndon LaRouche Nuts.

    Huff Post ran a pictorial perspective on these posters almost every picture they featured had LaRouche’s website embossed at the bottom.

    Still the cable nets and netroots buried that. Ran the pics for three solid weeks, no mention of LaRouche.

    Takes more than using Think Progress for your source material.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Aaron: I did not call Color of Change a grassroots organization. I’m not sure what you’re responding to, but it’s not to anything I wrote.

  9. Neil

    When it comes to race-baiting Glenn Beck is at the top of his game. The fear-mongering about tyranny is another rant that does a deserving to his listeners. If you think his stick has no effect in the national debate, I would disagree.

  10. George Williams

    It seems to me that any statement that is not in agreement with what the current administration is saying is “a hateful lie”. If Beck is actually spouting hateful lies, someone should enumerate them and point out the truth. From my perspective, there is more hate talk coming from MSNBC than from FOX these days. Then again, I am a conservative Democrat (since 1959).

  11. Ben

    I’m surprised to hear this from Dan Kennedy. Isn’t the best response to bad speech more speech?

    I sometimes watch Beck and I would agree that, like Limbaugh, he is sometimes a lying, obnoxious buffoon. But I think you overstate your case when you say that one of Beck’s “outrages” is “denying global warming at CNN”. Like it or not, that’s a rather mainstream position among Congressional Republicans.

    Even some of Beck’s more inflammatory stuff (goose-stepping Nazis associated with Obama) has a serious message behind it (read Hayek’s Road to Serfdom). It is however, Buffoonish, inflammatory, derisive and, no doubt, offensive to many. But that doesn’t mean he should be taken off the air. You may not agree with Beck’s style (I’m with you there), but that is also just reflecting the nasty nature of political discourse today – it’s just easier to call Beck on it because he isn’t exactly clever, ironic, or intellectual.

    Ok, since I’m one of those “unemployed white men with nothing better to do,” I’m off to “polish my gun” now… (That doesn’t mean anything dirty, does it Dan? I’m too scared to google it.)

    One more thing: Aaron’s right, the people at Town Meetings comparing Obamacare to the Holocaust are Lyndon LaRouche nuts. The New Bedford Standard Times documents this at the meeting Cong. Frank attended. It’s kind of unfair (and inaccurate) to blame Beck for LaRouche wackos.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Ben: Among the right-wing pundits comparing Obama’s policies to those of Nazi Germany are Beck, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. Yes, there are LaRouchies out there, but it is disingenuous for you (and Aaron) to suggest that the LaRouchies are the only folks paying attention to leading Republican pundits.

    You also can’t go all Holmesian about a commercial system in which folks like Beck profit — and help their corporations profit — by engaging in outrageous, deliberately false hate speech. The Nazi garbage and his claims that Obama hates white people are the sort of crap that could get people killed.

    He’s got a right to say it, within the bounds of case law regarding incitement. But it’s ridiculous to suggest that it’s somehow good for democracy for him to have a national cable platform from which to spew his hate day after day.

  13. Ben

    The LaRouche folks seem to have their own signs and talking points – my guess is that they take marching orders from within their organization, like they always have. They also make a very specific argument about Obamacare being a deliberate attempt to kill the disabled modeled after Hitler’s Holocaust.

    Beck says nothing even close to this. I watched the clip on youtube- he says we’re heading towards “nonviolent fascism … not the Adolf Hitler kind.” He says this is the case under Obama just as it was under Bush. In fact, he says we’ve been marching down the Road to Serfdom since Teddy Roosavelt. Basically, he’s correcting himself in saying that we’re not headed towards socialism (he used to say this), but instead a soft fascism where we still have a Capitalistic system that is nonetheless dominated by tremendous state control. He says this will be fought “not with arms, but with our voices.” I’ve heard many libertarians say stuff like this. While they maybe weren’t all the deepest thinkers, they are far from being wackos.

    You can find plenty of folks on the web saying Obama IS Hitler. But that’s clearly not what Beck is saying here… he doesn’t even mention Obamacare, Nazis or the Holocaust. He only mentions Hitler to disavow any association. Obviously the opening image is meant to be provocative, but he backpedals from any unintended conclusions pretty quickly.

  14. Phil G.

    I am surprised to see Dan supporting a boycott of anyone in the journalism business. I find Beck no more or less distasteful than Olberman and less so than the despicable Garofalo but boycotting them, I don’t think so.

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