“They can take my job and they can take my wealth but that’s okay… I will use American ingenuity and my ingenuity to pull myself up, and I will find another way to get my message out on a platform that will be a thousand times more powerful!”
Those are the words Glenn Beck used to console himself when he came under attack while still hosting his old program on Fox News. As a consequence of calling the President a racist (and numerous other delusional ravings), Beck saw his advertisers and audience fleeing in droves. Yet he was adamant that if he were to lose the soapbox given to him by Fox he would rise on the third day and ascend to ever greater glory.
After nearly two years in the hinterlands of the InterTubes, Beck has changed his mind about television and the imaginary “thousand times more powerful” platform he espoused. He is now begging to be readmitted to the television tabernacle. He realizes that his public profile has receded, effectively making him a non-entity on the political landscape. To be sure, he’s making plenty of money by charging his flock to watch his sermons, but that isn’t enough for someone with Beck’s pathological egocentrism.
Beck has launched a campaign to recruit his disciples into a lobbying force aimed at pressuring cable providers to add his webcast to their channel lineup. But if cable operators were to succumb to this effort it would be an unprecedented breach of trust that would force every cable customer to subsidize Beck’s right-wing conspiracy mongering. Depending on the terms of the agreement, content providers providers are generally paid a per-subscriber fee by the cable operator for the rights to their programming. That fee is due whether or not anyone watches the channel. Therefore, if your cable company carries Beck’s webcast, they pay him royalties derived from your cable bill even if you never watch him.
In his appeal to his followers Beck makes the weak argument that extracting such involuntary financial support is comparable to what is currently being done with MSNBC. However, no matter what one thinks of MSNBC’s leanings, they are a bona fide news enterprise and there are massive differences between that and Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue and Holy Huckster Sideshow. Despite Beck’s assertion that “Adding TheBlaze will ensure that you and your family have a source of news and analysis that you can trust and that doesn’t betray your values,” the obvious truth is that his programming will only contribute to the garbage heap of fear peddling that permeates rightist media. And this statement in his own promotional piece exposes the dishonesty of his intentions:
“If we succeed then we change the media. If we change the media, we control the debate. If we control the debate, we change politics. And if we change politics, we change the country.”
That is not the sort of mission statement issued by a credible news organization. Beck is forthrightly declaring his intention to proselytize his Tea-vangelism, and that makes his “channel” an inappropriate selection for a cable operator who would pass on the costs to unwilling subscribers. We should not be forced to make up for his business failures.
Amongst Beck’s defenders there will be those who will deny that Beck is having any problem generating revenue with his webcast. But here’s financial breakdown: He is presently charging between five and ten dollars per month to subscribe to his programs online. If he does secure cable carriage that programming will be available for free to all of the current cable subscribers on the system. Consequently, they would no longer need to pay for the Internet access. If the Internet subscription model was working for him, Beck wouldn’t risk cannibalizing his online customers by offering them the same content for free on cable. But he doesn’t care about his web audience because he knows that with cable penetration comparable to what MSNBC has, Beck could triple his earnings.
The bottom line for Beck is that he is upset because no one is paying any attention to him. So he wants to wedge himself back into the TV community and make you pay the bill. This would be a good time to say “NO!” And you may as well use his own web site to do so. Beck has thoughtfully compiled a directory of the Facebook pages for the cable providers he is soliciting. There is no reason why you couldn’t use those same links to let them know that if they add Beck to their lineup you will cancel the service, because you don’t want to line the pockets of someone who is so brazenly dishonest, divisive, and hateful. We successfully exiled Beck to his current island in the Internet ocean once before. Let’s not allow him to sneak back in at our expense.