Glenn Beck has been on the warpath for the last 24 hours both on his radio gig and his Fox News Channel show -- accusing Brooklyn Rep. Anthony Weiner as well as Media Matters of "McCarthyism" for writing about his practice of fear-baiting listeners and then pushing them toward sponsors with questionable practices. The most notable case is Beck's non-stop, on-air warnings of a worldwide global monetary collapse and the need for gold to protect against worthless paper money -- all tied into his close relationship with sponsor Goldline International, which has grown into a $500 million business through its tie-ins to conservative talk radio and to FNC.
Beck's charges of "McCarthyism" is based on the notion that the only reason for going after Goldline is because his political adversaries like Weiner -- who wants federal regulators to probe Goldline and is proposing legislation on the sales of gold coins -- want to shut down his free speech. That charge would only carry water, however, if Goldline were not engaged in highly questionable business practices such as high-pressure sales of coins with ridiculously high markups, though investment advice from sales people not qualified to deliver it. Nor is it "McCarthyism" when -- ironic as it sounds -- the liberal Democratic congressman is working hard to keep Beck's loyal conservative listeners from getting ripped off.
With the Beck-Goldline debate raging, Mother Jones has entered the fray with the results of its own three-month investigation of the gold coin peddlers, and those results are devastating. For example:
The price of gold has increased 133 percent since the beginning of 2006, yet many Goldline customers say they have lost money on their purchases after discovering—as Richardson did—that they had badly overpaid for their gold coins. Richardson is one of 44 people across the country who have filed complaints against Goldline with the Los Angeles BBB in the past three years; customers have also griped about their dealings with the company on message boards such as Ripoff Report and PissedOffConsumer.com. Regulators in Missouri have sanctioned the company for pressuring an elderly couple to liquidate their other investments to buy overpriced coins.
The Federal Trade Commission received 17 separate complaints about Goldline's sales tactics between early 2006 and May 2010, according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Many of those stories mirror Richardson's.
Equally important, the Mother Jones article clearly establishes that Beck is a major part of what allows this to happen:
Beck has assured fans that Goldline's sales reps are "not going to pressure you." I called to find out. When I dialed the company's toll-free-number from my office to request one of its free "investor kits," the salesman's pitch came right off a Beck script. In fact, he informed me right away that Beck was one of the company's best clients. "We're the only company he buys from," he told me. After learning that I had never invested in gold before, he plugged "investment grade" coins by assuring me, "That's what Glenn buys."
Please read the whole thing. If nothing else, it will help you understand why Beck has been going a little crazy -- that is, crazier than usual -- these last few days.