Color of Change has done a remarkable thing: it has moved a host of major advertisers on the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck show to withdraw their advertising from the program.
The catalyst was Beck's diatribes against President Obama -- calling him racist, and claiming that the president has "a deep-seated hatred of white people." Color of Change moved into gear, rallied its 600,000 members, and targeted the show's advertisers. One by one, the advertisers fell off, the latest being Walmart. No small feat.
But I'm not sure how much Beck's bosses really care -- or at least his biggest boss, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, the parent company of Fox Television. I suspect Murdoch may be all too willing to keep Beck on the air as a loss leader, in exchange for Beck's talents as a community organizer. Never mind that Beck's community is racist, paranoid, angry and ready to rumble; in Murdoch's scheme, that's all to the better.
Beck's 912 Project is an unprecedented effort by a media mogul to use the public trust of the cable spectrum to organize people for taking political action against a sitting president. This is not simple opinionating, which is the right of any media outlet; this is a successful attempt to turn out the rabble at town-hall meetings dedicated to the health-care reform bills currently wending through Congress, and to rally the anti-tax crowd for a march on Washington on September 12.
But it doesn't end with Beck.
Reporting for AlterNet, I spent last weekend covering the RightOnline conference staged in Pittsburgh by Americans For Prosperty, the astroturfing group funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries (among others) that is also doing its bit to set mobs on health-care town halls.
Of the 15 speakers featured at RightOnline's general session, one-third hailed from Murdoch properties -- either Fox News or the Wall Street Journal. Fox News Channel contributor Michelle Malkin celebrated the fact that members of Congress have become intimidated by the mobs, and fellow Fox contributor Jim Pinkerton gave remarks on how "the online community can work with FoxNews" to defeat health-care reform. "Keep it up; we'll win," he told the crowd.
Throughout the session, speeches offered outright lies about what is in the health-care legislation, and blew dog whistles to the violent.
If liberals and progressives really mean to win on health care -- and climate change and net neutrality, the coming battles currently bubbling on the right -- we must shine a light on Rupert Murdoch, and his abuse of a public trust for the purpose of derailing democracy.
Click here to read AlterNet's report on the links between Murdoch and Americans for prosperity
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.
Follow Adele Stan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/addiestan