Monday, August 24, 2009

The Market Seems To Be Exercising Responsibility

As more and more advertisers express their displeasure with talk show host Glen Beck for his ill-tempered appraisal of Barack Obama as a "racist," it appears that some sense seems to be gaining sway in our national debate--a direct contribution of the marketplace.

My business partner Tom Field, a conservative, constantly hammers at me about the power of the marketplace to shape its will and I'm constantly hammering back that I'm not in the mood to trust big business or the marketplace to make moral judgments. This time, though, morality and good business seem to be aligned with the stars.

Beck is one of those loose cannon-mouths who's far more concerned with his ratings--and, thus, his income--than in truth, justice and the American way. And we're seeing, from the blue streaks following his former advertisers as they flee (33 of them by latest count) that he's not able to leap tall buildings and bring them home, either.

I thought it instructive that Kathleen Dunleavy, a marketing manager at Sprint, is quoted as being surprised at how quickly and dramatically the news of the Beck abandonment shot across the social media spectrum and how the advertisers responded to that phenomenon. We're even hearing marketing people make a lot of sense: a spokesman for Clorox (which has a truly clean image ... heh, heh, heh) was quoted on Huffingtonpost as saying, "we do not want to be associated with inflammatory speech used by either liberal or conservative talk show hosts."

That decision may be more important than rounding up and re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine, whose death at the hands of Reagan Administration judges is at the root of so much of the uncontested hate speech today, mostly and most prominently from the far right, but some of it eminating from the left, as well.


  1. I didn't know that there should be a judiciary prosecuting "uncontested hate speech". Why is it "uncontested"? Who should "contest" it? Who determines if it should be "contested"?
    In order for this to happen someone must 'judge' whether another free persons words are "hate".
    I'm sure the First Amendment fits in there somewhere.
    Beck has every right to call Obama a "racist" just like the advertisers can freely spend their money, either targeting an audience or making a political statement but it sounds like you want a legal body to determine the consequences of free speech when it hurts another free man.
    That doesn't sound free at all.

  2. Sir, You're making all kinds of assumptions that I don't even get near suggesting. The "contesting" here is from the marketplace. Advertisers are saying, "This won't do" and are pulling their ads. At every level and all the time, we are subject to some kind of censorship, whether self-generated or from outside forces. This does not have to go through any legal system at all--and, frankly, I would prefer that it not ever reach that point in this country. I think what is happening, however, is that advertisers are saying, "use any kind of bullshit language or incorrect information you want, but I'm not paying for it." My guess is you'll agree with that philosophy.