Quote of the Day

“Con men like Rush and Beck are one reason the Republicans are in such dire straits today. Because they don’t care about winning elections. They care about separating rubes from their money. They’ve discovered there’s a fortune to be made by keeping a small portion of America under the illusion that they are always under attack. From Mexicans, or ACORN, or Planned Parenthood, or gays, or takers, global warming hoaxers; it doesn’t matter. They don’t want a majority. They want a mailing list, a list of the kind of gullible Honey Boo Boos out there who think that there’s a War on Christmas, and that the socialist policies of our Kenyan President have been so disastrous that the end of the world is coming.” –Bill Maher

The Conservative Movement As Money Making Venture

Being on some conservative mailing lists I regularly receive not only ridiculous emails on politics but also a large number of ridiculous sales pitches from the same sources. You have to be a sucker to accept the conservative political line. Apparently some of the same suckers are also easily separated from their money. Salon looked at the moneymaking ventures which are common in the conservative media:

The conservative media movement exists primarily as a moneymaking venture. As Rick Perlstein explained in the Baffler, some of the largest conservative media organs are essentially massive email lists of suckers rented to snake oil salesmen. The con isn’t limited to a couple of newsletters and websites: The most prominent conservative organizations in the nation are primarily dedicated to separating conservatives from their money.

FreedomWorks, which is funded primarily by very rich people, solicits donations from non-rich conservative people. More than 80,000 people donated money to FreedomWorks in 2012, and it seems likely that only a small minority of those people were hedge fund millionaires. And what are people who donate to this grass-roots conservative organization funded mostly by a few very rich people getting for their hard-earned money? In addition to paying Dick Armey $400,000 a year for 20 years to stay away, FreedomWorks also apparently spent more than a million dollars paying Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh to say nice things about FreedomWorks, in order to convince listeners to send FreedomWorks money that FreedomWorks would then give to Limbaugh and Beck. It’s a pretty simple con. Beck, meanwhile, also has a subscriber-based media operation, in which people pay his company money for access to programs where Beck expresses opinions that he was paid to hold. He also spent years telling everyone to buy gold from a company that pays him and defrauds consumers.

As Armey admitted to Media Matters, FreedomWorks at this point essentially raises money for the sake of raising money. It exists to bilk “activists.

Advertisers Avoiding Rush Limbaugh And Other Far Right Wing Extremists

We already knew that right wingers were out of touch with reality based upon their views, but who knew they were so out of touch with reality that they had no idea that antagonizing a group making up over 50 percent of the population could backfire. From Radio-Info.com via Think Progress:

When it comes to advertisers avoiding controversial shows, it’s not just Rush From today’s TRI Newsletter: Premiere Networks is circulating a list of 98 advertisers who want to avoid “environments likely to stir negative sentiments.” The list includes carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm) and restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway). As you’ll see in the note below, those “environments” go beyond the Rush Limbaugh show

“To all Traffic Managers: The information below applies to your Premiere Radio Networks commercial inventory...They’ve specifically asked that you schedule their commercials in dayparts or programs free of content that you know are deemed to be offensive or controversial (for example, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Leykis, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity).’

This is an even dumber move than Rick Santorum losing Catholic votes by attacking John Kennedy and the First Amendment.

Think Progress notes the comparison to Glenn Beck:

The advertising flight is reminiscent of Glenn Beck’s Fox News program. After major companies refused to advertise on Beck’s show in light of racially insensitive comments, he was left with just fringe businesses like survival seed banks and gold sellers. Not long thereafter, he left Fox, reportedly under pressure.

John Avlon has more at The Daily Beast:

This is big. According to the radio-industry website Radio-Info.com, which first posted excerpts of the Premiere memo, among the 98 companies that have decided to no longer sponsor these programs are “carmakers (Ford, GM, Toyota), insurance companies (Allstate, Geico, Prudential, State Farm), and restaurants (McDonald’s, Subway).” Together, these talk-radio advertising staples represent millions of dollars in revenue.

Valerie Geller, an industry insider and author of Beyond Powerful Radio, confirmed the trend. “I have talked with several reps who report that they’re having conversations with their clients, who are asking not to be associated with specifically polarizing controversial hosts, particularly if those hosts are ‘mean-spirited.’ While most products and services offered on these shows have strong competitors, and enjoy purchasing the exposure that many of these shows and hosts can offer, they do not wish to be ‘tarred’ with the brush of anger, or endure customer anger, or, worse, product boycotts.”

There are already tangible signs that the three dozen national and local advertisers that have pulled their ads from The Rush Limbaugh Show are having a financial impact.

While many major businesses want nothing to do with Limbaugh or other right wing extremists, there are still people out there who defend people like Limbaugh. Despite all the awful things Rush Limbaugh has said and done, at least he has done one thing of value. Thanks to Rush it is now possible to determine within seconds whether a person is a scumbag by seeing if they are defending Limbaugh on their Facebook page.

A Free Market In Conservative Endorsements

Conservative talk show hosts claim support for the free market. Ignoring for a moment the degree to which the right wing actually undermines our market system while promoting plutocracy, there is one market they are strongly in favor of–a free market in selling endorsements. Politico reports:

If you’re a regular listener of Glenn Beck’s radio show and you wanted to contribute to a political group that would advance the populist conservative ideals he touts on his show, you’d have plenty of reason to think that FreedomWorks was your best investment.

But if you’re a fan of Mark Levin’s radio show, you’d have just as much cause to believe that Americans for Prosperity, a FreedomWorks rival, was the most effective conservative advocacy group. And, if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity are who you listen to, you’d be hearing a steady stream of entreaties to support the important work of the Heritage Foundation.

That’s not coincidence. In search of donations and influence, the three prominent conservative groups are paying hefty sponsorship fees to the popular talk show hosts. Those fees buy them a variety of promotional tie-ins, as well as regular on-air plugs – praising or sometimes defending the groups, while urging listeners to donate – often woven seamlessly into programming in ways that do not seem like paid advertising.

“The point that people don’t realize,” said Michael Harrison, founder and publisher of the talk media trade publication TALKERS Magazine, “is that (big time political talk show hosts) are radio personalities – they are in the same business that people like Casey Kasem are in – and what they do is no different than people who broadcast from used car lots or restaurants or who endorse the local roofer or gardener.”

This returns the the question I’ve often wondered about the right wing talk show hosts–do they believe any of the nonsense they say or are they just saying what makes them the most money?  Both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have provided reasons to question whether they believe what they say on air.

Glenn Beck TV: Paying To Rot Your Brain

Glenn Beck is leaving Fox this month, being too wacko even for them, but his fans will still be able to watch him. There is a catch, besides rotting their brains listening to him. He is starting his own internet network, and will charge to watch.  Beck finds advantages to the new format:

The on-demand nature of an Internet network was one of the appeals to Mr. Beck and the president of Mercury, Chris Balfe.

Also appealing, Mr. Balfe said, was not having to worry about whether the shows that lead into and out of Mr. Beck’s show have “exactly the same sort of tone.” (That was perceived to be a problem at Fox, since Mr. Beck’s conservative sermons and speeches at 5 p.m. were followed by a straightforward political newscast at 6 p.m.)

The lead-in and lead-outs do not matter, Mr. Balfe said, because “we’re not trying to keep viewers, we’re trying to please subscribers.”

Mr. Beck pointed out another potential advantage: “It’s my network, so if I want the show to run 2 hours and 15 minutes one night, it will.”

The charge will be around $4.95 per month to watch Beck or $9.95 per month to watch the entire network. Personally I think that access to all the material on Netflix for $7.99 per month is a far better deal. Netflix provides hours of a wide variety of movies and television shows. Beck provides hours of  recreating old Bircher conspiracy theories.

Quote of the Day

“Glenn Beck announced that he is ending his daily show on Fox News. He didn’t want to end it. He just ran out of conspiracy theories.” –Jay Leno

Quote of the Day

“Fox News announced today that Glenn Beck will leave his show later this year. It’s nothing personal. He just wants to spend more time with the voices in his head.” –Jimmy Fallon

Glenn Beck And Morale At Fox

Hendrick Hertzberg speculates as to possible reasons Glenn Beck is leaving his show on Fox:

A more interesting and by no means incompatible possibility is that Beck’s disgusting lies, apocalyptic fantasies, endless Hitler and Stalin comparisons, and persistent use of racist and anti-Semitic tropes (faithfully chronicled by the indispensable Media Matters) have become a bit much for Ailes and the rest of the front office. I’m not suggesting that their consciences were bothering them, obviously, but surely they understand that Beck has not been helpful to the Fox News “brand.” I realize that “Fair and Balanced” is not meant to be taken literally—it’s a taunt, not a creed—but doesn’t Beck stretch it nearly to the snapping point?

There may also be a management problem, a problem of staff morale. For a news professional, even one of conservative inclinations, Fox is a problematic place to work. In addition to suffering the humiliation of having to slant one’s reporting to serve the interests of an increasingly unhinged Republican Party, Fox employees cannot help but be aware of the contempt and/or pity, tacit and/or open, of their peers. I suspect that this problem is at least as severe at the peon level—bookers, interns, researchers, receptionists, coffee fetchers, mailroom guys, etc.—as it is for correspondents and producers. Just getting rid of Beck won’t remove the air quotes from around “Fox News,” of course. But for members of the company rank and file, Beck’s departure could mean a slight reduction in the percentage of people encountered in the course of a day’s work who, upon hearing “I’m with Fox News,” physically recoil.

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My Current Activity

Just pulling out my chalk board to write all the reasons why it is a good thing that Glenn Beck will no longer have a daily television show.

(My current Facebook status. Actual post on this topic here)

Glenn Beck To End Daily Television Show

Glenn Beck has announced plans to transition off his show on Fox. The parting does appear, at least on the surface,  to be more amicable than the separation of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. There is no word as to whether Beck plans to voluntarily seek in-patient psychiatric care after leaving Fox. More seriously, there is no acknowledgment of his declining ratings or the number of advertisers who have dropped his show due to not wanting to be associated with the views he promotes.There has been speculation he wants to start his own network but it is questionable how successful this will be. Beck’s brand of craziness will attract a certain number of viewers, but how many reputable companies will want to be associated with him?

Following is the the press release. Details in the release, like everything else coming from either Fox or Beck, needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

(New York, NY)  Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, Glenn Beck’s production company, are proud to announce that they will work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties. Glenn intends to transition off of his daily program, the third highest rated in all of cable news, later this year.

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News said, “Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards.  I look forward to continuing to work with him. ”

Glenn Beck said: “I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News. I cannot repay Roger for the lessons I’ve learned and will continue to learn from him and I look forward to starting this new phase of our partnership.”

Joel Cheatwood, SVP/Development at Fox News, will be joining Mercury Radio Arts effective April 24, 2011. Part of his role as EVP will be to manage the partnership and serve as a liaison with the Fox News Channel.

Roger Ailes said:  “Joel is a good friend and one of the most talented and creative executives in the business. Over the past four years I have consistently valued his input and advice and that will not stop as we work with him in his new role.”

“Glenn Beck” is consistently the third highest rated program on cable news.

For the 27 months that “Glenn Beck” has aired on Fox News, the program has averaged more than 2.2 million total viewers and 563,000 viewers 25-54 years old, numbers normally associated with shows airing in primetime, not at 5pm. “Glenn Beck” has dominated all of its cable news competitors since launch.