May 20, 2010

On his show yesterday, Glenn Beck decided to finally confront Anthony Weiner's investigation of his Goldline scam -- in predictable Beck fashion:

Step A: Frame such attacks in a paranoid light -- "They're out to destroy me because I speak the truth to you!"

Step B: Double down on the scam by promoting it directly on the show.

Yet as Rep. Weiner noted:

"It is not surprising that Glenn Beck is attempting to deflect from his behavior in promoting Goldline," Weiner told Yahoo! News in a statement. "But the facts are clear. Goldline rips off consumers and Glenn Beck helps."

In the report (on Weiner's House website as a PDF), Weiner charges that Goldline "grossly overcharges" for coins and makes false claims about gold being a good investment. Goldline touts gold as a more solid investment in this economic climate.

The report says the gold retailer has entered "an unholy alliance with conservative pundits" — among them Beck, Fred Thompson, Dennis Miller, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham — to "promote Goldline by playing off the fear of inflation."

"What we have found, by looking through the public records, is that very often they use their public programs to advocate purchasing gold, and then immediately, advertisements begin for Goldline," Weiner said in a news conference Tuesday.

As Will Bunch notes, Mother Jones just published a months-long investigation of the practices of Goldline and its gold-industry cohorts, and the results aren't pretty:

The price of gold has increased 133 percent since the beginning of 2006, yet many Goldline customers say they have lost money on their purchases after discovering—as Richardson did—that they had badly overpaid for their gold coins. Richardson is one of 44 people across the country who have filed complaints against Goldline with the Los Angeles BBB in the past three years; customers have also griped about their dealings with the company on message boards such as Ripoff Report and Regulators in Missouri have sanctioned the company for pressuring an elderly couple to liquidate their other investments to buy overpriced coins.

The Federal Trade Commission received 17 separate complaints about Goldline's sales tactics between early 2006 and May 2010, according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Many of those stories mirror Richardson's.

And of course, our favorite Insane Wingnut plays an important role in all this:

Beck, whose various media enterprises brought in $32 million last year, according to Forbes, has a particular interest in plugging gold. Since 2008, Goldline has been one of his most reliable sponsors, underwriting his comedy tours and investing heavily in his radio show. Last year, after Beck called President Obama a racist, and mainstream advertisers bailed on his cable show, Goldline stuck by him. And its loyalty appears to have paid off. In an email, Goldline's executive vice president Scott Carter says that while its Beck sponsorship doesn't bring in the majority of its customers, it "has improved sales," which exceed $500 million a year.

... The more worked up Beck gets about the economy or encroaching socialism, the more Goldline can employ those fears in pitching their products to his audience. But in putting his seal of approval on Goldline, "the people I've trusted for years and years," Beck has gone beyond simply endorsing an advertiser.

No doubt Mother Jones will be appearing on Beck's chalkboard soon, too.

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