Earlier this summer Glenn Beck made a fool of himself on a Fox News talk show by blurting out his suspicion that the President had a deep-seated hatred of white people, only to deny in his next breath that he had said that Obama hates whites. It was all too funny to annoy me, but Beck's claim that the President is a racist has infuriated an organization known as ColorOfChange.org, which has been lobbying advertising to pull out of sponsoring Beck's own program on Fox News. They have apparently convinced a number of sponsors to ask Fox to run their ads during different hours.
I'm sure that some Republicans have already declared this campaign another instance of double standards at work. To an extent they have a point. If it is intolerably offensive to accuse someone of racism, then it must be equally offensive to accuse Republicans and conservatives of racism, as happens often in the media. But it appears to be more offensive for someone to accuse Barack Obama of racism, to the point that Beck's accusers imply that he is the racist for making the charge. Putting it more broadly, the partisan talking heads on TV and radio routinely make gross charges against the leaders of the enemy party. If a pro-Republican or so-called conservative pressure group tried to get sponsors to abandon MSNBC's prime-time programming to protest the hosts' abuse of Republicans, the cry of "censorship" would be heard more strongly than I hear it now during the campaign against Beck.
If sponsors decide on their own that they don't want to be associated with an idiot like Beck, that's their business. A campaign of the kind now underway is less about businesses keeping their consciences clear than it is about driving Beck off television. That bugs me. TV might be better off without his stupidity, but that's a decision for viewers to make. Their decision may reflect poorly on them to the extent that they fall for Beck's buncombe, but before anyone decides that the decisions about who gets to talk about the news on TV should be made by someone else, it should be understood that applying any standard of fairness (especially under Bipolarchy conditions) would eliminate others besides Beck in the name of inoffensive neutrality. Some people may deem that a fair price to pay to be rid of all rabid partisanship in the media, but I wonder how many people really want to be rid of all partisanship, especially when partisanship itself dictates what's offensive and what isn't for many viewers. Singling out one person for exemplary punishment isn't going to solve the larger problem.