In what some would probably view as a self-deprecatory look at the symbiosis between right wing memes, ads, and radio hosts, the Wall Street Journal pretends to take an oh-so serious look at how the lines between political commentary, paid ads, and the right wing have blurred so as to be indistinguishable.
First, the confession:
In radio, a lot of money is already flowing in the other direction. A handful of the top talk-radio hosts in the U.S.—including Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity—are being paid to use their voices and faces to promote politically motivated groups. Messrs. Beck and Hannity also have highly rated television programs on Fox News.
Mr. Beck, whose radio program averages 10 million weekly listeners, has given paid endorsements on the show since May for FreedomWorks, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian advocacy group that worked closely with tea party groups to support dozens of conservative candidates in last Tuesday's election. As part of what are called "live-read" advertisements, Mr. Beck has urged listeners to join FreedomWorks—a group he also had expressed support for prior to the commercial advertising arrangement.
Oh, noes! Glenn Beck was PAID for those FreedomWorks promos? You mean -- you mean -- he doesn't really BELIEVE all the crap he spews? How can it be?
Not to worry, WSJ readers, because in the interests of "fair and balanced" journalism, the WSJ rushes to let you know that progressive groups like MoveOn and unions have considered paying for embedded ads, and still won't rule it out, while others have done so 'in the past'.
Big buyers of pro-Democratic political advertising including Moveon.org, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Healthcare for America Now, and Service Employees International Union, said they haven't purchased live-read advertising in the past, but did not rule out doing so. A spokesman for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the union had bought live-read ads "on occasion" in the past but did not disclose details.
There's your false equivalence right there, because no Murdoch publication would be complete without it, after all. They don't stop there, however. In what might be the most absurd, laughable part of this piece altogether, there's a real stretch to compare Glenn Beck's non-political "be conservative or die" rally on the Mall with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's.
Some conservative talk show commentators, including Mr. Hannity, broadcast from nearby locations during tea-party rallies during the past two years. An October rally featuring Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert attracted Democratic groups. The Democratic National Committee greeted buses arriving in Washington for the rally, seeking volunteers for get out the vote efforts. However, Fox News was not a sponsor of the tea-party rallies, saying it pulled Mr. Hannity from one in April. Comedy Central said no political groups were sponsors of the event featuring Mr. Stewart.
Thank the universe for THAT, because the Stewart/Colbert rally didn't even include a call to get one's ass out and vote. If Murdoch says Fox News didn't sponsor tea-party rallies, we should just believe that, because surely Murdoch wouldn't lie to us would he?
[sarcasm pause]This WSJ article really does have some facts in it that bear repeating. They buried them deep in the recesses of the article, but they're still relevant.
The big live-read sponsors are Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, and FreedomWorks. The US Chamber of Commerce was quick to say they do NOT pay for live read ads.
Americans for Prosperity, which spent tens of millions during the election to defeat dozens of Democratic incumbents, sponsors live-read advertisements by Mr. [Mark] Levin, whose radio show reaches 8.5 million listeners.
Organizations that buy them say the ads can be uniquely effective—especially amid a flood of other political advertising. Since Mr. Beck began promoting FreedomWorks, new memberships have surged to as many as 5,000 a day, according to a spokesman.
[sarcasm play]Somehow, they also manage to weave in the idea that Ed Schultz' mug on Stamps.com somehow equates to that.
The mother of all live-read ads is coming soon, since Fox News has already promised the 2012 primaries will be their "production". Glenn Beck will headline it, with Brother Hannity as his choir. Expect a chorus of "repeal and replace" followed by a rousing rendition of "Tax Cuts, Here We Come".