Lest We Forget

December 29th, 2011 at 9:51 am David Frum | 49 Comments |

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As the gold market tumbles, time to recall: even if the price of gold had remained high forever, people who trusted in Glenn Beck would still have been cruelly cheated.

I’m trying to recall a worse case of media ethics malpractice than Glenn Beck and Goldline, but thus far I draw a blank.


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49 Comments so far ↓

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    Judy Miller & Michael Gordon in the run-up to Iraq?

    • Graychin

      ^ +1

    • Grace

      Heh, good one.

      So Beck’s a bottom feeder. Hoocoodanode? But it takes real balls for Frum to single out Beck when he was part of the team that built the FauxNoise propaganda wurlitzer. Beck is exactly the kind of gasbag that cancer was built to showcase: high ratings and advertising dollars for the network, lotsa eyeballs for the GOP propaganda.

      Is Beck really any more ethically bankrupt than the GOP pols whoring for their corporate masters? Endless tax cuts and no-bid contracts for the 1%, fully deficit-financed, but continue a payroll tax cut for the peons for two months? Heresy! Only if they’re willing to have their Medicare cut to pay for it!

      Beck’s a PT Barnum huckster, no doubt about it. But I’ll give top honors to the high dollar whores who sell their souls to grift the entire nation. Over a hundred thousand Americans and Iraqis paid with their lives for the con that was the Iraq war, a slightly higher price than the few thousand idiots who followed Beck’s investing advice paid for Beck’s scam.

  • Graychin

    Glenn Beck’s goldbuggery isn’t so different from the guy who keeps claiming that the world is about to end. So since you won’t be needing all your worldly possessions…….

    Ironically, Glenn Beck probably doesn’t own a meaningful amount of gold, but he made a fortune peddling it to the suckers who hang on his every word.

    Is goldbuggery so different from a Ponzi scheme?

  • lilmanny

    I think Glenn has justified the con to himself by telling himself that he is first a Randian, second a media personality and is therefore free of ~any~ ethical obligations to anyone. Therefore, in his mind, he owes his listeners zilch. Since they have been fooled by an obvious con they did not deserve the money in the first place. Only he, the smarter and more creative individual, deserves it.

    And this is why he is more PT Barnum than Alex Jones or Klaus Wagner. I think the person has to have some ethics to begin with before they respond to accusations that they are the worst offender of media ethics.

  • icarusr

    Oh come on. Anyone who listens to Glenn Beck for advice on anything, and acts on it, deserves to end up in the poor house, on skid row, or in the local gutter. I mean, as the song goes, I have the milk of human kindness by the imperial pint in every vein, but there is a limit to this liberal’s willingness to support people’s stupid choices. Gamble all you want, follow the huckster of your choice, find religion, horde gold or silver or rubberised hay, for all I care – but to listen to and act on Beck requires a level of active stupidity that should, in a civilised society, deprive one of the right to vote.

  • dante

    I LOVE goldbugs. I can point and laugh at them all day…

    1) You can’t eat gold when food supplies run low.
    2) You can’t shoot gold to kill a burglar/rioter/zombie who’s trying to steal the rest of your gold.
    3) You can’t burn gold to heat your house when the gas line is shut off.
    4) You can’t even use gold to *buy* the things I just mentioned in the case of a zombie apacolypse. You’re hungry, but have a stack of $800 gold coins. Your neighbor has a loaf of bread. How are you going to buy a loaf of bread with an $800 gold coin? Maybe your neighbor realizes that gold is worthless and would rather *eat* his loaf of bread instead of having a hunk of shiny, worthless metal.
    5) In order for gold to be a “good investment” or a “good value”, it has to be worth more when you go to sell it. There is *nothing* that can put a firm price on where gold should be. NOTHING. No one can come out and state that gold should be $5,000/oz, or $200/oz since it’s only worth what someone else will pay for it.
    6) It sucks as an inflation hedge. Gold peaked at an inflation-adjusted $2,337/oz in 1980. From there it fell to $300 in 2001. That’s losing ~85% of it’s value in a time of moderate inflation…

    • jakester

      well you can always melt the gold down or cut it up for use as bullets or shot in case of the zombie apocalypse, which is coming soon

  • cheves222

    While I agree with David, just wanted to note without commentary the source of this chart: Mother Jones and (ahem) Rep. Anthony Weiner.

  • jorae

    The only reason to buy gold would be if the dollar was worthless.

    I find it hard to believe that peoople thought they could take a certificate and get a loaf of bread. The ability to think why you would buy gold and how you would spend it never seemed to be connected. The utter appeal of this ‘come on’ had to hope no one throught it through… they would be taking wheelbarrels of gold to buy bread.

    More proof of the dumbing down of our senior citizens…

    I suggest buying ‘Western Gardner’ and look into buying a few chickens if it ever comes to this…LOL

    • Baron Siegfried

      Actually, if you have the land and your zoning permits it, I think everyone should keep chickens & a garden simply because it’s so therapeutic. Most everyone I know who keeps a garden and laying hens are calmer and a lot more centered than those around them. There’s just something about being aware of and involved with the growth cycle that mellows you out . . .

      • Kevin B

        Or maybe mellow, centered people are more likely than others to think gardening and raising chickens is a fulfilling activity. Those who find it boring or frustrating probably find other things to occupy themselves.

  • PracticalGirl

    Easy to pile on Glenn Beck as his public persona takes a tumble right along with gold. But if we’re not to forget, let’s take a moment to remember. A short list of those so-called conservative talkers who joined Beck in using their personalities for fun and profit to hawk Goldline, recently indicted for 19 criminal counts of fraud and theft.:

    The Godfather of squawk, Rush Limbaugh
    Long time Frum friend Laura Ingraham
    Perennially whiny Sean Hannity
    Dangerously unhinged Michael Savage
    Former GOP Presidential candidate Fred Thompson
    Formerly funny Dennis Miller
    Currently irritating Mark Levin
    Always pissy Dr. Laura


    Combined with Beck, this list includes all five of the top-rated talk shows in the country. They reach a combined audience of (conservatively) 35 million people a week. All of these so-called conservative talkers participated in this scam, and all of it was arranged by their syndicators. So as long as we’re talking about irresponsibility and ethically challenged media, let’s not forget the media companies that made more than any of their talkers off of Goldline sponsorships:

    Premiere Networks
    Westwood One
    Cumulus Media Networks
    Talk Radio Network

    And down the line? Over 600 radio stations around the country who carry the so-called conservative programming also benefited from Goldline’s big bucks. So, while I despise the propaganda coming out of the mouths of the talkers, it’s important to look at what and who Goldline was really supporting. This was a major scam perpetrated by a sleazy company, propped up by a stunning number of propaganda-peddling media companies around the country. Beck’s a weeny, for sure, but only the tip of the iceberg that hit.

    • lilmanny

      Home f***** run!

      I don’t want to cast aspersions that I can’t prove, but what if every one of the people on this list consider their “customer” Goldline, and not the audience? What if the entire buttress of the conservative movement, talk radio, is simply a business plan enacted by a number of companies to take advantage of its listeners? What if marketers had discovered a large niche that was avowed to their product (radio) and only needed some goading, perhaps to be made angry by something or other in the news, and was willing to turn that anger into a purchase ~just to prove their allegiance to the movement~? And then what if they could convince this niche that all other sources of information were suspect and they should wall themselves in with only the individuals above, and their business partners and sponsors, as a window to the world, sealing themselves off from the ads of competitors? How much money would you pay for that situation?

      • Traveler

        You two sure are on to something. The implications are fascinating. Great comments, both of you.

        • lilmanny

          To be fair, PracticalGirl does research. I engage in wild, unfounded accusations.

      • think4yourself

        Lilmanny, this is not really news and affects all media (although the conservative media is the worse).

        These are business interests who have an identified market (35MM listeners with a particular philosophy) and marketers are adept at crafting messages to appeal to that demographic. If just 2/10ths of 1% of the listeners bought gold through Goldline, that would be 70,000 customers.

        While in general, this isn’t particularly illegal or immoral (after all, if you listen to classical music radio, or “All Things Considered” on NPR, you are also a particular demographic and messages are crafted for you as well), I find that with conservative radio outlets and Christian radio outlets the messages appear to be really insidious. For example, on my local contemporary Christian radio station, 3 years ago the bulk of commercials were by mortgage providers and their pitch was that “God wanted you to be successful and own a house”. Now the biggest advertisers are “credit counselors” who say that “the Bible says all your debts should be forgiven every 7 years”, and “God wants to ease your burdens.”

        • PracticalGirl

          While I agree with you that all advertisers look for a certain demographic, talk radio is a medium wholly constructed around personalities whose main goal is to make an emotional appeal/connection to their audiences. The difference between somebody advertising on talk radio and, say, a network program lies in that distinction. Every one of the hosts I mentioned were recruited by Goldline to personally endorse the product they hawked specifically because of the emotional connection they have with their audience. And how many of those hosts actually investigated that which they endorsed? None do this, and neither do the media organizations who get these contracts signed. Imagine if a major network talker with the same emotional connection to an audience had endorsed a company under indictment for criminal fraud and theft? The right wing wouldn’t let us forget it, and not just the person who did it but the network/media organization they were attached to.

          A network personality knows that they AND the media organization/network they are a part of will be scrutinized for everything they endorse. They and their people are careful about this, and that’s why you didn’t ever hear “Hi, I’m Diane Sawyer, speaking to you about Goldline”.

          Well, that and the cost. Much, much, cheaper to get an endorsement from a talk radio star than a major network star, and you get to many more millions. 20 million people a week listen to Rush Limbaugh. Diane Sawyer jsut hit a big milestone at 7.3 viewers for the week. Plus, Goldline got the additional benefit of vertical marketing. You typically don’t get two mainstream, major media figures who endorse the same thing at the same time. With the help of all the major talk radio syndicators, though, Goldline got simultaneous endorsements by every single one of the top five hosts, plus a slew of others. Talk radio listeners typically don’t just listen to one talker, they listen to several. And when you hear all these “trusted” people (in a medium that 20% of listeners consider as “news”) delivering the same message in concert, you start to “believe” the message.

          It’s about time that the right wing media organizations get the same scrutiny that they give to mainstream media. The debacle with Goldline is a great place to start, but it won’t happen because all the focus is on the delivery devices, not the suppliers.

      • PracticalGirl

        … but what if every one of the people on this list consider their “customer” Goldline, and not the audience?

        You’re not wrong. Every syndicator knows the game, the difference between their “product-hosts and shows- their “customers”-the advertisers- and their “consumers”- their audience and the stations who carry the programming. The winners are those who put out a product that consumers flock to so that the advertisers do the same.

        Think4yourself is right- ABC, NBC, CBS Facebook etc-this is the same game every media organization plays. Even here at the FF, you and I are a nothing but a number to be sold to advertisers. The difference, however, lies in how and where the blame is put when something nefarious happens. While whining about Beck is satisfying, it doesn’t Goldline wasn’t indicted in a vaccum-the ongoing investigation wasn’t a secret. So- What organizations continued to get paid to endorse a product that was so obviously flimsy and fraudulent? Who’s really making it possible for scams like this to exist unquestioned?

        Goldline has been indicted. Super. Now, perhaps, it’s time to examine the very large media grouping that used public airwaves to perpetrate and distribute this scam large scale. Complaining about the delivery devices without examining the suppliers is exactly what the real money makers want us to do, as it allows them to find the next scam and make more money with impunity without anybody ever asking any real questions.

      • mfterman

        I don’t want to cast aspersions that I can’t prove, but what if every one of the people on this list consider their “customer” Goldline, and not the audience?

        There’s an old saying. If you’re not paying for a service, you’re the product, not the customer.

  • Houndentenor

    The oldest joke in investment advice is “buy low, sell high”. That sounds so obvious that it gets an eye roll, but the truth is that most people buy after almost everyone already has (which is when the price is high) and sells after almost everyone else has just sold (when the price is near the lowest). Buying gold because the price is so high already means the bubble is about to burst. This goes with real estate or any of the many bubbles that casual investors have been burned on over the last couple of decades.

    Of course Glen Beck viewers bought gold not as an investment but because Beck is also a conspiracy theory huckster. They preyed on fear and ignorance. That’s a great way to make a lot of money so long as you don’t have any scruples. Beck, Thompson and company obviously have none and made plenty of money.

    • dante

      I call it my “mom rule”. When my mom asks about something (internet stocks, gold, etc) it’s time to GET OUT NOW!!! She has such a knack of getting it exactly wrong that I’ve come to rely on her as a canary in the coal mine. She timed the low in March ’09 *almost perfectly*, coming to me asking if she should just “sell everything before it all goes to zero” when the DOW was somewhere around 6800… That was a huge “buy” signal for me. :)

  • Marquis

    Glenn Beck’s gold bugs got hosed by some potent roach spray? Oh well, every false prophet will be exposed sooner or later. In any case, anyone with a brain knew the inevitable correction was coming.

  • Rob_654

    What I am going to find interesting is when people realize that they have lost money on their gold after investing on Beck’s and others advice (those folks not smart enough to have bought early and sold when they made a nice profit) will be how Beck and others spin the story.

    I suspect that they will find a way to “spin” that fall of gold prices on Obama, Soros, Liberal Agenda, the UN and god only knows who or what else but they will throw out so much chaff that I have no doubt most of their listeners will actually believe that the liberals saw the threat of gold prices going up and somehow had the power to crash the gold market…

  • booch221

    The stupid people who listen to Glen Beck and all the other right wing gas bags are going to be cruelly cheated.

    What a nice New Years present!

  • rbottoms

    Nice to see homophobia, racism, and religious wack-brain thinking costs you dearly.

    Dipsh*t suckers.

    Sympathy meter, zero.

  • TerryF98

    Sinz54 is now tearing his hair out. SELL! SELL! SELL!

    • dante

      You give him far too much credit. He’s probably thinking “BUY THE DIP, BUY THE DIP!!!!”

  • armstp

    As all you “free-market conservative” types would say, you pay your money and you take your chances….

  • jakester

    While I condemn his fear based sales approach, gold has been a good investment. As well as even Alan Colmes is hawking it on his show

    • TerryF98

      How much did you buy? :-)

      • jakester

        None, but if you bought it ten odd years ago, you still would be doing well. Beck of course is a hack, manipulator and crackpot. That is why they sell all that crap like survival food bank stuff through him, Doom and Gloom just like the even more odious Michael Weiner

  • rbottoms

    Gay bashers go broke.

    World’s tiniest violin plays.

  • andydp

    Just a bit off subject:

    What’s the latest on Beck and his internet show ? Any demographics ? Audience size ?

    Personal comment: the man is a fear monger. One minute he was yelling dollar is dying, unified currency etc etc. The next minute saw commercials for Goldline.

  • Pericles

    I’m confused — if you listened to Beck and/or bought gold a couple of years ago you have a portfolio with over 50% returns. Where else could you have earned that on your money?

    I’ve heard those commercials — they caution that gold isn’t for everyone — maybe David is just jealous Beck and the other talks have advertisers in the first place?

    • rbottoms

      You’re confused because you are not able to read the chart I suppose. A 50% increase means you finally made back what you were over-charged plus a couple of percent.


  • Oldskool

    So where are all those guys who were counting their chickens a few months ago? Using one of those homeade ass-kickers like in cartoons, I bet.

  • SFTor1

    In spite of all the great comments, let’s not forget to state the obvious:

    What a giant, steaming, lying and stealing scumbag.

    May he rot in hell.

  • bill_mcgonigle

    Operation Twist – look into it.

    If you’re not aware that short term treasuries are being sold by the Fed to buy long term treasuries, to drive up the value of the Dollar on a temporary basis, you can’t really draw any meaningful conclusions about these sort term commodity movements.

    Oh, yeah, and PT Barnum must’ve founded Goldline.

  • moderateOhiovoter

    this is the man who drove the party completely insane I think we honestly have to wait for this generation to die off to fix the problem.

  • Baron Siegfried

    While I consider it detestable to take advantage of the gullible, I also consider it detestable to be gullible in the first place. I honestly wish I could work up a cherem of sympathy for those who got taken for a ride, but in this case, stupidity is its own reward. I sincerely hope Goldline and other swindlers receive their comeuppance, and that it acts as a warning to others. Though I’m doubtful as to either, as stupidity springs eternal . . .

  • bubba11


  • rbottoms

    “And yet, I can’t seem to care.”
    ~ Angel