Think about that for a minute as we look at the orchestrated boycott of Glenn Beck by Color of Change. On the surface, this boycott stems from an appearance by Beck on Fox and Friends when he referred to the President as a "racist". Since then, Color of Change has tried to convince advertisers to boycott Beck. Of course, in our political world, nothing is as simple as it seems. As it turns out, Color of Change is not merely an unbiased observer, but a group with an agenda.
Glenn Beck used his popular Fox News show this afternoon to attack the background of Van Jones, a White House environmental advisor who co-founded an African American political advocacy group that organized an advertising boycott of his program.
During his 2 p.m. PDT show, Beck did not address the boycott spearheaded by Color of Change to protest the talk show host’s remark last month that he believes President Obama is “a racist.”
Instead, he spent a large share of his program suggesting that Jones, who co-founded Color of Change in 2005, is a radical. Jones now serves as a special advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Now, personally, I think everyone should be careful when labeling another with the "racist" tag. That's because we can't look into some one's heart and so there are very few instances when its clear that someone is a racist. I think that Beck was applying things to the president that simply aren't there. I don't believe for one second that he's a racist and it was irresponsible for Beck to call him a racist.
That said, let's get real here. Entire networks applied the racist label to the tea parties. Entire networks applied every possible negative label to then President Bush. Kanye West stood up during an awards show and pronounced "George Bush hates black people". Contessa Brewer of MSNBC implied that health care protesters secretly wanted to assassinate the president. There's plenty of irresponsible things said on television. If we were to call a boycott for every offense, we'd be left with nothing to watch or read. Picking on Glenn Beck seems totally random and out of place.
I think he should have been rightfully condemned for suggesting that the president is racist. Going after his advertisers is not only a bit absurd but totally counter productive. The attempted boycott has received somewhat uneven media attention. It's not anywhere near front page news. Instead, some media has covered it, some blogs, and much of the liberal end of the media. For instance, Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has breathlessly reported on every single advertiser that drops out. Johnson has been trying desperately to prove his independent bonafides by attacking the likes of Beck, Palin, and snickering at the tea parties because there's a lot of Ron Paul supporters in it.
Here's the reality. In fact, not only is the boycott a miserable failure but in fact counter productive. While its gotten many people to back off, it matters not. Beck's ratings are as high as ever. Much like with the Internet, if you have eyeballs the income follows. There are tens of millions of potential advertisers of the Glenn Beck show on Fox. You can get five, ten, or even a hundred, but as long as millions are watching, there will be five and ten times that ready to pay to advertise on the show. The real story is not how many advertisers have dropped Beck since the boycott. The real story is how many new viewers Beck has received since the boycott.
This isn't about Beck calling the president a racist. That sort of irresponsible language is unfortunately far too common in the media. What this is really about is that Beck is an unflinching critic of Obama and he's gaining popularity. His opponents are frightful because he's not only unflinching but he continues to be a bigger and bigger player every day. Supporters of the president lose media power everyday while critics gain it. That's really what this is about. Beck received less than ten viewers on CNN and now he gets three to four million viewers on Fox News. He uses his bully pulpit to pick apart the president, the agenda that Beck believes the president is perpetrating, and the players behind the scenes the president employs to pull it off.
One thing no one can get beyond. No one has challenged any of the facts that Beck has produced over the last month. The backgrounds of the likes of Van Jones, Cass Sunstein, Jeff Jones, Dr. Ezekial Emanuel, or any of the other connections have never been challenged. Instead, as soon as Beck really put the heat on Obama, opponents started attacking Beck himself. As the old saying goes, "if the facts are on your side, you argue the facts, if not, you attack the messenger". That's what's happening here and it won't work. Since the likes of Color of Change put Beck in their crosshairs, all that happened was that his viewership exploded. The more this purported boycott gets media attention, the more viewers of the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News. No boycott will stop people from watching Beck.