The Government wants to steal your money, kick your dog, and knock up your daughter. Trust me, just because I’m being paid to say it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Or so should be the new conservative media slogan. If you’ve slogged through any of the programming at Fox News lately--and thanks to a recent journalistic experiment, I have--you’ll quickly find yourself bombarded by advertisements for buying gold. A company called Goldline is the main purveyor of the glittery stuff, but there are others. The pitch is that when the economy collapses, gold will be the only thing worth holding. End commercial and suddenly the pale face of one Glenn Beck is telling me that, come the certain economic collapse, gold will be the only thing worth holding. Fwhuh?
Conservatives have been pitching gold roughly since we chased out the king, but recently the pitch has become a bit aggressive. It’d be nice to think that Glenn Beck just really cares about our well being, but the truth is a touch more opportunistic. Many, if not most, of the conservative show hosts these days are apparently on the take. Companies like Goldline are paying handsomely for talking heads to pitch gold on their shows, often right after a gold buying commercial airs. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if these talk show hosts mentioned that they were on the payroll, but that isn’t the case. Folks like Glenn Beck are using political ideology and scandal mongering headlines to back gold and then getting paid for it. A healthier form of capitalistic yellow journalism I have yet to find.
Just a little taste of Glenn Beck’s flavor here was quoted on Politico:
“When the system eventually collapses, and the government comes with guns and confiscates, you know, everything in your home and all your possessions, and then you fight off the raving mad cannibalistic crowds that Ted Turner talked about, don’t come crying to me. I told you: get gold.”
Of course yellow journalism has long been used to sell media, it does tend to be a moneymaker, and yellow journalists are no stranger to the take, but there is something insidious about using such a platform to convince other people to spend their money! This isn’t just making money off of a headline, this is actively employing fear and absurdist ideologies to profit off of people using their own money, their own life savings, to buy what you’re not journalistically reporting, but selling. Not that gold is a dangerous financial gamble, but still. In truth gold is at best a mediocre investment, yielding little more over time than the general rate of inflation. Sure if the government collapses gold will be good, but I’m going with blind optimism here and saying that that is a long shot scenario. The point is, folks like Glenn Beck aren’t just employing yellow journalism, they are employing predatory tendencies disguised as journalism. I’ll have to chalk that one up as a new low.
Journalism should never stray into the area of financial opportunity, not even when it is editorial in content. There is a trust that has to exist between news media consumer and news media provider, and that trust is broken when a news media outlet becomes QVC. I happen to like Levis brand jeans. Should I use a journalistic platform to expound on the life benefits of Levis jeans, all while that company is paying me handsomely? I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but it shouldn’t.
Fox News is an opportunist network, that is pretty much a given. They lead the ratings because they specialize in fear mongering, and people like to be scared and angry at something. Life is hard and Fox does a good job of offering a scape goat. That said, I still feel that liberals should confront the network rather than cut it off, as is the wont of the White House. If anything, I now hold firmer convictions in this regard. Fox has long waged a battle against the higher purpose of journalism and this eradicating of the line between content and advertisement cannot be tolerated. Politico reports Peter Epstein, president of Merit Financial Services as saying, “You pay anybody on any network and they say what you pay them to say. They’re bought and sold.” It’s time to end this wallet padding masquerading as journalism. Certainly the media consuming public deserves better. Democracy deserves better. Fair and balanced? Sure why not.