Why Wal-Mart is Boycotting Glenn Beck

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by Conor Clarke

As you probably know, Fox host Glenn Beck has been losing lots of advertisers -- about 20 so far, including Wal-Mart, CVS and GEICO -- for calling Barack Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." I clicked around to see what people on the right were saying about the donnybrook, and found this page from RedState.org, which appears to be organizing a counter boycott, or is at least offering the sinister warning that "there will be repercussions from our side if [these companies] are so willing to become pawns of the left."

I find all of this a bit funny.


What's the logical conclusion here? Do we boycott and counter-boycott, until we've whittled ourselves down to country of red and blue companies as well as red and blue states? There's nothing to stop us. Fox is well within its rights to retain the hosting services of Glenn Beck, and Wal-Mart is within its rights to take its advertising dollars elsewhere, and the readership of RedState.org is within its rights to take its paychecks elsewhere, too. And I suppose I can take my eyeballs to some other corner of the Internet. Three cheers for liberalism!

And yet I cannot help but think there is a crucial difference between GEICO's decision to drop Glenn Beck and RedState's decision to drop GEICO. The difference is this: Wal-Mart has a good reason to boycott Beck, because Beck actually did something idiotic and indefensible. It simply is not true that Obama is a racist. And what's this business about "the white culture," anyway? Tell us a bit more about that, Glenn.

RedState does not have a similarly reasonable claim -- or a substantive argument at all -- unless they are seriously interested in defending what Beck said on the merits. (Are they? Is anyone? Let's have that argument, pretty please.) The argument for boycotting the boycotters should be more than "free speech is awesome," since the right to free speech doesn't guarantee you the right to massive corporate underwriting.  

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