11.14.2011 2

Glenn Beck’s Departure from Fox News Highlights 2012 Media Strategy for Far Left Groups

By Kevin Mooney — What is the real story behind Glenn Beck’s departure from Fox News, and what does it mean for conservative media going into the 2012 elections?

Mainstream news outlets explain Beck’s departure by pointing to the “precipitous decline” in his program’s ratings. The New Republic, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and other liberal-leaning publications have all run stories that attribute the drop in Beck’s ratings to his separation from Fox.

Many pundits think the ratings fall is due to the public’s loss of interest in Beck’s “antics” and “conspiracy theories.” “He’s a spectacle,” said media and politics professor Jeffrey Jones of Old Dominion University. “He wears Viking helmets, he pours gasoline on things. It wouldn’t surprise me that what was once a fresh voice has now become a routine, that audiences might be saying, ‘Well, I’ve seen that before.’”

Others, however, point to conflicts that erupted between Beck and other high profile figures on the right. The Daily Caller reported earlier this year that Andrew Breitbart, publisher of BigGovernment.com, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs.com, Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, the Media Research Center (MRC) and others complained that Beck frequently lifted content from their sites without attribution, repeating stories they broke without giving them due credit.

These charges may have undermined the host’s television standing. Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has said he doesn’t care whether people say Beck resigned or was fired. Perhaps the most plausible explanation for Beck’s exit can be inferred in a recent exchange between Ailes and the Associated Press.

“Advertisers who get weak-kneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech, I get a little frustrated by that,” said Ailes. He did not elaborate, but it appears Ailes is referring to the “Stop Beck” campaign that got its start when one Angelo Carusone, a former University of Wisconsin law student, urged a boycott of Beck’s program in July 2009.

In late June, Media Matters held a party that drew hundreds of left-wing activists to celebrate Beck’s departure. If no one can say exactly why Beck is leaving the airways, many expressed the hope that Beck’s departure signaled the beginning of a larger more successful effort to purge Fox of programming with conservative appeal.

The intense anti-Fox animus is not new, but this time conservatives have good cause to be concerned about one aspect of the new campaign against Fox. That campaign aims to exploit the most incendiary of tactics — the issue of race — to dislodge conservatives from prominent media posts.

A left-wing 501c4 advocacy group called Color of Change is going after conservative media. Color of Change joined the attack at about the time that the “Stop Beck” campaign reached its shrill high point, but its tactics give it a much greater reach.

The group has perfected the leftist technique that immediately short-circuits meaningful debate, overwhelms vital facts and cows the opposition into submission. It plays the race card.

Media Matters, MoveOn.org, Stop Beck, and other leftist groups are heaping praise on Color of Change because it has added a vital racial component to their efforts to discredit conservative arguments. Despite much evidence that contemporary America has moved beyond the tragic legacy of slavery and segregation, the Left remains eager to accuse its opponents of racism. To be sure, Color of Change describes itself in the benign terms that suggest a commitment to equality of opportunity: “We are united behind a simple, powerful pledge: we will do all we can to make sure all Americans are represented, served and protected — regardless of race or class.”

In reality, however, the group supports race and gender-conscious quota policies in government contracting, hiring and college admissions, and it seeks to discredit anti-tax and spend initiatives that would restore limited government. This is a formula that equates constitutionalism with racism.

Color of Change was co-founded by Van Jones, the Oakland, Calif.-based radical leftist who served in the White House for barely six months as the Obama administration’s “green jobs czar,” a position created to channel stimulus money to environmentalist groups.

It was Beck who blew the whistle on Jones’s extremist past, forcing his ouster on Labor Day weekend 2009. So, this all comes full circle. However, bombastic, or over the top Beck may seem to even conservative leaning viewers, he was effective and had to be taken out.

Fortunately, Beck’s voice is still heard on his own network. But the ire he attracted from the left should be instructive to other conservative media personalities going forward.

The real target here is Fox News, which has broken up the liberal media monopoly.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinMooneyDC.

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