For those who haven't followed the controversy surrounding Glenn Beck's promoting of Goldline while suggesting on his show that people should buy gold because society might collapse, Jon Stewart summed it up nicely last week:
That's kind of a nice little feedback loop. Glenn Beck is paid by Goldline to drum up interest in gold, which increases in value in times of fear, an emotion reinforced nightly on Fox by Glenn Beck.
The relationship between Goldline, Beck and Fox News would actually make for a great, dare I say it, chalkboard diagram.
As the media began to pick up the story and question the relationship between Goldline and Beck, Fox News clarified the relationship this weekend. A senior executive at Fox News told the New York Times that Fox's legal department contacted "Beck's representatives," who "sent back word that he is not a paid spokesman." But according to the exec, it would be "problematic without question" if he was a paid spokesman.
And to make things even clearer, according to the Times, Fox released a statement outlining its official policy: "Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as product spokesperson."
If you're wondering how what Beck does for Goldline is any different than that, you're not alone.
Goldline sponsors Beck's television program and his radio program, but the relationship doesn't end there. Beck's face appears on Goldline's website, where, until the relationship began to be questioned, he was listed as a "paid spokesman." Not so, said Beck's representatives to Fox News. These aren't the droids you're looking for.
On Friday's radio show, Beck used a preview for his Friday night television show to plug Goldline.
Here's our sponsor this half hour. Our sponsor this half hour is Goldline. Gold is something that I have invested in. I bought when it was about $300/oz and I've never done it for an investment. Don't listen to me for an investment advice. Please. I can tell you directions that I think, but I could be wrong. And have been in the past. Gold is something that I buy as an insurance policy. You don't put all your money into gold or anything like that. Because if the dollar falls apart and please watch tonight's show and I'll show you what's coming. If the dollar does fall apart, what do you have? Now you may not be able ot afford gold and for god's sake don't go and get into debt. I know they offer payment plans. Please don't. Please. Don't rack up any debt. But you have to have something of value as an insurance in case things go haywire. For me and my family that's gold. You decide on your own. Call Goldline and find out all the options. Ask them how I buy gold, why I buy the gold that I buy. I buy the coins. I will tell you that that's a little off the deep end. But I'm off the deep end if I'm going to have an insurance program, I want an insurance program. Find out all about it. Go to goldline.com. Go to 866-Goldline. Full disclosure: Goldline is a sponsor. That's why I'm telling you this is a paid commercial. 1-866-Goldline.
Sure enough, on Friday night's program Beck essentially suggested that people better start buying gold because the country's about to fall apart. Beck first used a stoplight metaphor to explain how our economic system works. Green light means everyone buys stocks, yellow light means T-bills and red light means "Gold, Guns and God." Beck claimed we are at yellow for one of the few times in our history. But there are signs it all might fall apart:
Anybody who has a ton of money and they put their money where their mouth is, they don't feel comfortable where we're going. It is yellow.
And, by the way, you're seeing flashes of red. Gold is massively down in the last week, but it may zoom up again, it may not. But it's a warning sign of flashing red light, which we also rarely, if ever, see.
If that wasn't clear enough, Beck said: "The smart money is saying 'hunker down.'"
The same show, Beck employed another metaphor:
[A]s a country, it's like we've moved to California where it's the land of earthquakes. But we've never had earthquakes before, OK? If you're in Washington or if you're in New York and say to somebody, where is the safest place in your house besides under the table in an earthquake, a lot of people wouldn't know.
It's in the door frame, OK? You stand in the door frame. If you're from the west coast, you know that. Stand in the door frame. Why? It is the threshold. It is the place that is most secure for you.
The country has never had earthquakes, financial earthquakes like this. So, the door frame on this side is the stocks and T-bills.
I talked to this guy, and he said, "Glenn, I'm here. The door frame of insanity, really, is gold, God and guns, because you don't know what's on this side of the door, right? So you're standing here with the treasuries, and you're just hoping you're going to jump back out, but you really don't know. He said, for the first time, he doesn't know which way he's going and he has no idea. Nobody has ever thought about what's on this side of the door frame.
Does that make sense?
Uh, not exactly, but it's pretty clear you want us to consider buying gold.
Over the weekend, Beck posted an online video on his site responding to the controversy, asserting:
I wasn't aware that apparently was the most powerful man on the planet. I didn't know that by me suggesting to you to buy gold through a fine establishment like Goldline.com, 866-Goldline, that the global price of this trillion dollar industry, global industry, would actually start to wildly fluctuate.
Beck's obviously not going to seriously answer these questions. And by refusing to hold him accountable - again - Fox is allowing everyone to see who really runs the show.