Friday, August 28, 2009

Fox Won't Fire Glenn Beck: Here's Why

A truly excellent post from the editors of Buzz Flash on why Glenn Beck is here to stay.

Before I discuss their post, let me explain a little bit about corporations and why they matter so much.

Most people don't understand the power of the corporation, its attainment of personhood, and the role of the GOP, and its mouthpiece Fox News in shaping the direction of our country, regardless of the results of elections.

In an 1886 Supreme Court ruling (or some say, clerk's misunderstanding of his notes) in the case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was extended to include corporations, granting them full rights of personhood.

What's the problem you say? Well, you're one person, one vote, one paycheck (okay, maybe 2 if you and significant other both work), one checkbook. You can get together with others of like minds and interests and form groups and parties and coalitions, organize grassroots efforts to effect change (maybe), but you're still one person. With the coming of the tubes, you can become a citizen journalist and if you have any skill at all, and follow the basic rules of blogger etiquette, eventually you can develop a following and some influence of your own.

A corporation, however, has formed expressly to protect itself financially and legally from you. You as "we the people." You as "the government." You as consumer. You as employee. As a registered "Inc.," a company has protected its management and board from being sued (or rather, from any financial liability if the company is sued).

If you sue a corporation, and by some fluke should actually win, the money isn't going to come out of the personal checkbook of anyone employed by the corporation--even if someone personally employed at the corporation is personally responsible for whatever damages have been done to you. It isn't even going to come out of the checkbook of the corporation. It will come out of the checkbook of the insurance company who has underwritten that particular liability for the corporation, and so on and so forth. This is the framework upon which our country is built.

I thought this was about Glenn Beck you say. It is.

Corporations by definition, are big. They have lots of money and can afford to pay to hire lots of lawyers and accountants and lobbyists (many of whom are former politicians) and advertising companies, all of whom have formed themselves into corporations themselves. Have you ever noticed when you go to the doctor, or looked at the doctor's bill, that they're usually a corporation? Small, but still. It's all about that layer of protection between you and them.

I was a corporation once--it's a sound business decision if your business is big enough and at the time, spouse and I had numerous reasons for forming our company that way. I say this in the interest of full disclosure and to say that corporations aren't in and of themselves bad. It's being granted personhood and what people have then done with that that is bad. There is a difference.

With corporations, then, their power is in their size and their resources. They have deep pockets, they have lots of attorneys on retainer, they have access to politicians, and access to the media through the marketing firms they do business with. They usually have whole departments devoted to public relations who can develop print and television advertising to get their message out in any way they want it out. They can overpower one person, or one group. If you sue a corporation, they can bury you in paper and wait you out. As one person, they participate in elections in a way that many say drowns out the voices of everyone else by virtue of the resources they have to draw on.

Not all corporations sell products or services. Not all corporations are known or understood and many are owned by multi-national conglomerates whose connections are so complex, that trying to figure out who is in bed with whom, is nearly impossible.

At this point, 36 companies have pulled their advertising from the Glenn Beck Show because he called President Obama a racist. After a short time off, he has been allowed back, but appears not to understand why he is losing advertisers, or to care. Boycotting a company works, for a time, but Fox News is counting on the fact that eventually, boycotts end, people forget, and advertisers will come back. They are also counting on the fact that they will be able to replace lost advertisers with others who won't care about possible boycotts.

And, according to Buzz Flash, Fox News is well aware of why he is losing advertisers and they are delighted. This is why.

  • He incites extreme right-wing hate
  • They can carry him indefinitely by advertising other Fox shows on his
  • He churns up so much hate and is so evil, he makes the rest of the Fox crew look nice; Hannity almost civil
  • By urging his followers to blame all the ills of society on the government, immigrants and minorities, he has diverted attention from the corporations fleecing society to others and propagated a philosophy of hate for the GOP to build on

So why on earth would they let him go? They are thrilled.

By the way, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad is soon to be revisited by the Supreme Court--or at least the role of corporations in federal elections. In the upcoming session, the court will take up the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and a video about Hillary Clinton. It will be a case to watch, not just for constitutional reasons, but because it will be the first for Judge Sotomayor.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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