It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with Glenn Beck’s conspiracy delusions. If it isn’t health care reform being a backdoor to reparations for slavery, it’s Cash-for-Clunkers being a plot to let the government take control of your computer. Or food safety regulations being an excuse to raise prices so that people starve. Or that chemical trails from airplanes are actually missiles from a Chinese submarine off the coast of Santa Monica.
Lately Beck has taken to accusing Google of somehow being in cahoots with the federal government to foment unrest around the world or recruit our youth into socialist conclaves or … who knows what. He is certain that whatever it is, it is evil. On Monday’s program Beck gave this ominous warning to his legion of disciples:
“May I recommend, if you’re doing your own homework, don’t do a Google search. Seems to me that Google is pretty deeply in bed with the government. Maybe this is explaining why Google is being kicked out of all the other countries? Are they just a shill now for the United States government?”
Beck continued his assault on Google today, accusing it of being a hard-left enterprise with ties to many of his favorite enemies. These include FreePress.net, the Tides Foundation, MoveOn.org, Van Jones, and (gasp) George Soros.
So what got Beck’s panties in a bunch over Google? Is he really disturbed by its size and lack of respect for privacy? He never really cared that much about those issues if it were Koch Industries or Microsoft. In fact he ordinarily celebrates large, successful, intrusive business like banks or insurance companies as representative of America’s opportunity. Is it his innate distrust of technology and youth culture? He clearly has an animosity toward young people and an affinity for an analog past that favors blackboards over digital displays.
These things may tell a part of the story, but there is something more fundamental that may explain Beck’s Google bashing. His boss, Rupert Murdoch, has had it in for Google for about a year now. He believes that Google is appropriating his content and failing to compensate him for it, and he has taken this battle to extremes asking, “Should we be allowing Google to steal all our copyrights?”
Of course, Google is doing no such thing. They are simply aggregating news from many sites across the web. They are providing links to Murdoch’s web sites, and others, that actually increase traffic and revenue. And this is something he could stop easily at any time with one line of code that would block Google from including his sites. What’s more, Murdoch does the very same sort of news aggregation on many of his own sites like Fox Nation. But the issue is that Murdoch wants to force Google to pay him for the extra business they send his way and Google had the audacity to decline.
Another wrinkle involves Murdoch’s brand new iPad-only application, The Daily. Murdoch has high hopes for this fee-based news product. He has said that it is the future of news and that it will be the cornerstone of his news empire going forward. He launched it in conjunction with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who will also share in the earnings. Apple also announced that it is offering a new service that will provide access to other news and magazine publications on a subscription basis. That service will be competing with a similar service recently announced by Google.
Google is also competing with Apple on cell phones and cell phone operating systems, Internet browsers, advertising, and even computer tablets. So Murdoch’s partner and publisher, Apple, will be going up against Google in numerous businesses, including his cherished iPad app, The Daily.
Glenn Beck is a notorious profit whore. He exploits every type of media available. And he sells, not just advertising, but his own endorsement, to gold dealers, survivalist gear, and right-wing lobbyists. Should we be suspicious that Beck is now attacking Google when his employer is in fierce competition with them? Well, only if we are already suspicious of Beck for being otherwise obsessively driven by a profit motive, so you tell me. Do your own homework.
[Update 2/17/11:] Beck is apparently feeling the heat after embarking on a another paranoid journey down a conspiracy riddled path with regard to Google. He must have gotten some complaints because now he is backtracking and attempting to soften his stance. He whined on his radio program this morning that he is being wrongly accused of advocating a boycott of Google.
It is true that he told his TV viewers yesterday that he was against boycotts and wasn’t calling for one. But can you really assert that you are not calling for a boycott after ranting that Google is in bed with an evil government; is aligned with radical leftists; is fomenting violent uprisings; and is engaged in espionage? Then he explicitly told his audience not to use Google, and even posted a video on his web site instructing people on how to find alternatives. But he’s not calling for a boycott? He must have another name for it.
This is similar to how Beck incites violence and then denies that he has done so. He tells viewers that Francis Fox Piven, or George Soros, or whatever enemy he is fixated on that day, that they are evil incarnate; that they are working to destroy America; that they are determined to harm you and your family, and to blaspheme your God. Then, after building a frightening case for imminent danger on your doorstep, he says that he doesn’t believe in violence. Yeah, right. But you should do your own homework. If you believe in violence, well then…..