Sorry, Glenn Beck's Job is Not Protected by the First Amendment

09/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As expected, my call for News Corp to fire Glenn Beck over his assertion that Obama's policies are motivated by his secret hatred of white people was met with outrage by Glenn Beck fans.

Based on the hate mail I received, the pro-Beck arguments boiled down to this:

  • Beck's job is protected by freedom of speech

Please. You don't really believe that, do you?

I wasn't recommending that Beck be prosecuted. I didn't say Beck doesn't have a right to think or say that Obama's decisions result from a secret loathing of more than half the country. Of course he does!

What I said was that Beck's remarks were offensive and inappropriate enough that News Corp should sack him. I also observed that News Corp's defense--that Beck was just expressing his personal opinion and that News Corp allows commentators to express their personal opinions--was B.S.

How do we know it's B.S.? Because if Beck's personal opinions included any of the following, News Corp would toss him out on his ear:

  • I believe that Hitler had it right and that all Jews should be killed
  • I believe that child prostitution should be legal so poor parents can make a living
  • I believe that blacks should be deported

News Corp, moreover, has already demonstrated its willingness to can employees who express views that News Corp is unhappy with. Earlier this year, Peter Kafka of All Things D points out, News Corp fired Roger Friedman, a FOX News movie reviewer, because he watched and reviewed a pirated copy of the movie Wolverine. Here was their statement at the time:

Roger Friedman's views in no way reflect the views of News Corporation. We, along with 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, have been a consistent leader in the fight against piracy and have zero tolerance for any action that encourages and promotes piracy. When we advised Fox News of the facts they took immediate action, removed the post, and promptly terminated Mr. Friedman.

So please don't think that News Corp can't sack Beck because of what he believes.

The First Amendment protects Americans from being prosecuted by the government. It does not allow employees of private corporations to say whatever the heck they feel like saying regardless of how much it embarrasses their employers.

So what's the real reason so many Beck fans think that he should not be fired?

  • They agree with him
  • They think this particular opinion deserves to be implicitly sanctioned by News Corp
  • They forgive him this one moment of offensive idiocy