What started as a Twitter campaign by a lone law-school student in Madison, Wisconsin has morphed into Glenn Beck's worst nightmare: advertisers are dropping him like flies. His show in the UK does not have even one advertiser. Still, thanks to the power of News Corporation, the show goes on.
It started on July 2, 2009, when Angelo Carusone began a campaign called StopBeck.com, tweeting his followers to pressure companies to stop advertising on Beck's FOX News TV program. It was a maverick journey, but not for long. On July 28, 2009, Beck told his legion of viewers, Obama "has a deep seated hatred of white people." That's when Color of Change, the largest African American online political organization in the country used its muscle to target Beck with its own campaign. To date, 285,000 people have signed onto the CC campaign's petition to call on advertisers to drop Beck.
Within three months, Fox News' Glenn Beck Show had lost 80 advertisers; that number has now grown to 116. The only advertisers remaining on Fox News in the US are purveyors of gold, Rupert Murdoch owned organizations like the Wall Street Journal, the State of Utah, and, ironically, Murdoch's Direct TV competitor, Dish TV.
StopBeck's Carusone then took it a step further, targeting sponsors of the Glenn Beck Show in the United Kingdom. Brits apparently take their sponsorship PR seriously; for the past six days running, not a single company has purchased ads on the Glenn Beck Show. Instead, Rupert Murdoch's Sky News now runs in timeslots previously sold to advertisers. Fox still shows no sign of abandoning their populist hero; how shareholders will react to lower earning reports remains to be seen.
Beck's cable TV ratings, in the US at least, continue to be healthy. His FOX News viewership of 617,000 (as of Friday Feb 12, according to mediabistro.com,) is second on cable only to Bill O'Reilly's 713,000.
While StopBeck and Color of Change tout victories over Beck in TV land, Beck's radio show continues to thrive. Carusone is trying to boycott companies that advertise on Beck's radio program, which garners 9 million listeners, nearly 15 times his TV audience, but is finding the terrain more difficult. Whereas companies like Best Western and Kraft are sensitive to their logo being visibly associated with Beck on FOX News, "radio sponsors have a right wing agenda going in and don't really care" about a negative association, says Carusone.
Color of Change campaign manager Dani McClain says that targeting the show on Fox News is important, precisely because it is Fox "News." "Fox News says they are a news organization. When people tune in, they should have the expectation of getting real news, not misinformation, distortion of truth and race baiting." Executive Director James Rucker adds that this is an issue of credibility. "When you have so many mainstream companies, from AT&T to Walmart, who don't want to be affiliated with Beck, it strips Beck's ability to position himself as mainstream. Could all these companies possibly be in the pocket of the left?"