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Why is Fox “News” Channel Funding Research to Smear an American Pastor?

Reported by Alex - March 18, 2010 -

Huffington post (via Beliefnet.com) has a great article today by Burns Strider, former advisor to Hillary Clinton on faith issues and founder of the Eleison Group, asking that very question.

This is how he frames it:

This past week, Glenn Beck publicly revealed that his staff is moving beyond simply twisting the news for ideological ends to now funding opposition research and internet attack campaigns with the stated purpose of destroying the personal credibility of pastors who dare to question statements made by FOX commentators...
Why is FOX funding research to discredit an American minister?

Put this way, Strider’s question throws a shadow over the Fox News agenda that even its most ardent apologists won’t be able to excuse in a morally satisfactory manner. If Fox News Channel is about news, then its remit is to report facts, not twist them in order to mount personal attacks designed to smear and destroy the reputation of a man who has dedicated his life to the cause of justice for the poor and dispossessed. If Fox is about opinion, then let Beck have his opinion and make his case for it in a sane, civil manner – to say nothing of in a “fair and balanced” manner.

Contrary to what Fox apologists like to claim, the channel’s advertising has always strongly implied that their “Fair and Balanced” slogan applies to the channel as a whole – not to the “hard news” alone. Would it not be fair, then, to allow Pastor Jim Wallis to appear on Beck’s program to discuss Beck’s charges against him, and against the churches who preach the gospel of social justice? Would it not provide balance? Can any of the staunchest defenders of Fox News come up with one good reason why Beck should not debate Wallis?

But Beck is not interested in debate. He is not out to discover the truth and use the facts to make his case. By his own admission, his intention is to use the resources of Fox News Channel to orchestrate a smear campaign to try to destroy Jim Wallis. Oh no, he didn’t actually say “I’m gonna get you by whatever means necessary.” But read this and tell me: what other conclusion could any rational person possibly come to?

With his show having lost over 100 sponsors, it might be valid to conclude that Beck’s research staff are being paid, at least in part, out of revenue generated by other programming. If this is the case, then the wider Fox News Channel is implicated in Beck’s continuing crazy crusades, leading me to ask this question: Is it time for a wider boycott of Fox News advertisers in general?

Beck still has advertisers, however; the list is here and is updated weekly. The contact details for some of these companies are here. This list appears to be a little out of date; if anyone has a good source for up-to-date contact info for any or all of Beck’s current sponsors please tell us on the comment thread.To thank the sponsors who have pulled their support from Beck’s show, you can go here.

Speaking of the comment thread, I’m sure we’d all be very interested to hear from anyone who can come up with an intelligent, sound explanation for why Glenn Beck should not host Jim Wallis for a civil debate on his show, or meet him elsewhere with a neutral moderator. Likewise I'm sure readers would love to hear from someone who can explain how it is “fair and balanced” for Fox News Channel as a whole to stand over – and fund - Beck’s crusade against a mainstream American pastor and his organization, Sojourners, because he dared to disagree with he-who-shall-not-be-opposed, Mr. Glenn "I'll throw a tantrum" Beck.