In my long experience, when advertisers boycott media it’s media that’s too out there in a too-permissive liberal-lefty sort of way. I can’t actually remember in the history of modern media a boycott of something because it’s too conservative.
But that’s what’s happening to Beck. Nice-guy-oriented consumer brands are ganging up and pulling their ads
from his show. In the beginning this seemed like some savvy brand manager’s publicity stunt, but it’s spreading and becoming something like a determined international campaign. Waitrose, the fancy supermarket chain in the UK, just declared itself Beck-free (Beck appears on the Murdoch-controlled Sky TV in the UK).
This is happening in spite of the one thing that usually protects even dubious media—big ratings. The public (or the conservative public) likes Beck, but Mercedes-Benz, Capital One, HSBC, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, GMAC Financial Services, Best Buy, CVS, and Travelocity, in addition to Waitrose, don’t care. They’ve dropped him—and they’ve done it with great fanfare. Dumping Beck earns you good press (good liberal press anyway).
It’s not hard to appreciate why these companies have dropped him. If you can advertise in myriad other places to similar effect, why get involved with someone so volatile as Beck?
In other words, the rationale that advertisers have used to disapprove of too-liberal media is now being applied to too-conservative media.
And liberals are delighted. In fact, the impetus here is a liberal-led campaign of petitions and such—quite similar to those organized in the past by conservative groups—designed to spook advertisers. It’s the righteous, threatening, bad PR blackmail approach.
It’s more evidence that liberals really want to be conservatives—or at least want to have the muscle of conservatives. It’s an Internet thing. The conservatives build support for their boycotts using talk radio, the liberals have gotten the Internet to work for them.
Yesterday, a Huffington Post blogger gleefully outlined
why the financial realities of an advertiser boycott would invariably spell the end of Beck, because his boss, Rupert Murdoch,
is really only interested in making money. Which is, obviously, true. If this goes on, Beck is finished.
And that’s poetic justice and a lovely irony.
But what it is, too, is the heavy hand of the corporate middle fearing the self-righteous petitioners.
That’s apparently the choice: the evil, hyperbolic Beck or the liberals’ new world of the bland straight and narrow.
Of course, the conservatives could mount a boycott of the companies that are boycotting Beck. That could be fun.
More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NewserColumns.