Shock jock and Fox host Glenn Beck, who has built a career out of stoking the paranoid delusions of the rightwing fringe, managed to outdo himself last week when he accused President Obama of hating White people.
“The President has exposed himself as a guy … over and over and over again … who has a deep-seated hatred for White people … or the White culture…. I don’t know what it is” Beck said on “Fox and Friends.”
Beck’s wildly offensive charge, spurred by the recent controversy over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. was the latest low in a longstanding conservative narrative that ludicrously paints White men as the victims of “reverse racism” and oppression by minorities. Beck’s egregious attack has prompted Color of Change to launch a campaign urging Beck’s advertisers — which include GEICO and Proctor & Gamble — to stop sponsoring the shock jock’s divisive hatemongering.
It’s about time. Beck’s attack on Obama shocked even fellow conservatives. One of the hosts of “Fox and Friends,” Brian Kilmeade — who recently made headlines by essentially arguing for eugenics — pointed to a major flaw in Beck’s reasoning: for an alleged racist, Obama sure spends a lot of time around White people, who make up the bulk of his administration.
Taken a bit aback by Kilmeade’s rather incontrovertible logic, Beck tried to backpedal. Instead, he managed to say something even more offensive:
“I’m not saying he doesn’t like White people. I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist,” he said.
This is hardly the first time that Beck’s shameless scramble for ratings has led the talk show host to abuse logic and attack the President with thinly veiled racism. Or even the first time he’s done so this month: a few weeks ago, Beck essentially claimed that Obama plans to surreptitiously impose reparations on an unsuspecting American public through his health care plan. The fact that there is no such thing as an “Obama health care plan” — the President has laid out preferences but has not issued a “plan”— was perhaps the least disingenuous part of Beck’s accusation, which basically implied that Obama would betray the interests of White Americans to push the interests of Black Americans.
Beck has made a hobby out of using extreme and inflammatory theatrics to attack Obama. In a recent disturbing example, he poured water out of a gasoline can on a volunteer, screaming that Obama’s position on immigration spelled America’s doom.
So far, Beck’s hateful sermons have triggered almost non-stop condemnation from liberal circles and even the mainstream media. Beck’s latest outburst was excoriated across the Web and on cable news. On Sunday, CNN media critic Howard Kurtz wondered if Beck should be fired over his latest comments.
“Apparently, you can say anything about the President of the United States and still tay on the air” said Kurtz. “My needle has hit the maximum (of outrage).”
Even Joe Scarborough signalled that Beck had gone too far, tweeting, “Conservatives attacked the Dixie Chicks for saying much less about President Bush than what Beck said about President Obama.”
Unfortunately, Beck’s irrational, vitriolic rants have also earned him high ratings, a book, a series of attentiongrabbing profiles in the mainstream
media, and perhaps most ominous of all, a country-wide comedy tour.
Despite widespread criticisms, Beck’s high ratings ensure that the Fox network (and Clear Channel, which hosts his radio show) will not push Beck to lay off. In fact, last week Fox put out a statement “distancing” itself from the controversy, but not condemning Beck’s statement. The network relied on a strategy employed by (overly cautious) corporations everywhere, stating that Beck’s opinions do not reflect those of the network but stopping short of censuring the host.
But what if Fox were forced to reconsider? Like all media, Murdoch’s network lives off of advertising. And most advertisers are loathe to touch controversy if it’s shown to bring about consumer protest and boycotts.
Surely, the companies that sponsor Beck — which, in addition to Geico and Proctor & Gamble, include Nestle, Kellogg Company, Wal Mart and Kraft Foods — just need to be pushed in the right direction.
“When they see tens of thousands of people signing on,” writes Color of Change, “we believe they’ll move their advertising dollars elsewhere, damaging the viability of his show and possibly putting him out of business.”
The organization goes on to outline the repercussions of Beck’s vicious attacks.
“Some people refuse to accept the fact that our president is Black or the idea that he could truly serve all Americans. We know that. The only way these views will fade away is if they’re not reinforced by mainstream society. Instead, folks like Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh are exploiting racism and race-based fear to bump their ratings, stirring up racial discord in the process.”
It’s up to the empowered consumer to take Beck on.
“If we want to change what’s happening and put an end to folks like Glenn Beck having a platform, we can do it.”
Tana Ganeva is an associate editor at AlterNet..
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