Yet Another Liberal Attack on Free Speech
Claiming that precious metal peddler Goldline uses conservative broadcast talkers to whip audiences into a frenzy about upcoming financial catastrophe and then sells them gold as a hedge, at inflated prices, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is calling for investigations by the SEC and the FTC. Although several personalities are named, TV/radio talker Glenn Beck is Weiner’s prime target.An odd statement, coming from a politician. Those are the people who make a business of “preying on public fears” to get themselves reelected.
Naming names: According to a report released by Weiner, “Fred Thompson, Dennis Miller, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Michael Smerconish, Monica Crowley and Mike Huckabee are all paid spokespeople for Goldline.” Beck was a spokesperson too, but had to relinquish that role to conform to Fox News policy, but Goldline remains a major advertiser on his FNC program. [emphasis added]
According to the report, “On numerous occasions, Glenn Beck has dedicated entire segments of his program to explaining why the U.S. money supply is destined for hyperinflation with Barack Obama as president. He will often promote the purchase of gold as the only safe investment alternative for consumers who want to safeguard their livelihoods. When the show cuts to commercial break, viewers are treated to an advertisement from Goldline.”
Weiner commented, “Goldline rips off consumers, uses misleading and possibly illegal sales tactics, and deliberately manipulates public fears of an impending government takeover – this is a trifecta of terrible business practices. It’s unacceptable that this company is preying on public fears to sell its products.”
The misleading tactics boil down mainly to two, according to Weiner. First, he says that the gold the company sells is marked up 90% above melt value on average, meaning the value of the gold would almost have to double for the buyer to break even. Further, he says salespersons represent themselves as financial advisors, but they are not licensed as such. Weiner believes that is a misrepresentation.Goldline, by the way, has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Beck discussed Weiner’s attack on his Premiere Networks radio show, calling it part of a smear campaign engineered against himself and Goldline by the Obama administration. He wondered if other organizations besides those airing conservative talkers, and running Goldline ads, would also be targeted.
Beck also said that his money is where his mouth is on this one. “If my people that do financial advising — because I’m worth — you don’t listen to me for financial advice and that’s why I’ve said don’t — I buy it not as an investment. I buy it as insurance policy. If my people, my advisors would allow me to buy 50%, I’d have 50% of my savings in gold. But they all say that’s nuts. 10%, no more than 10%, no more than 10%. I think I have 15? 15, maybe 20% of mine in gold. From Goldline. Now, you tell me. If I’m such a scam artist, why would I be scamming myself?”
According to Politico, Goldline also responded. Goldline president and CEO Mark Albarian said, “It feels like it’s politically motivated in that neither the Congressman nor anybody from his office ever contacted executives from the company to really ask the important questions that they need to ask to understand this business.” He claimed that Weiner “doesn’t get” the gold business and suggested that the company’s relationship with Beck was the true motivation for the attack.
We don’t think gold is a particularly good investment. Indeed, we would not buy bullion at the melt value (even if we actually had the money to do so). But it’s not government’s job to second guess what investors want to do. If there were actual fraud -- if the company didn’t deliver the product it promised -- government would have a right to intervene.
But just disagreeing about where investors should put their money is a different matter.
It can’t possibly be an accident that Weiner has picked on a company that advertises on conservative outlets. This is simply another case of liberals in government using their power to try to shut up voices they don’t like.
That’s just not consistent with free republican government. Indeed, as government power increases, free speech necessarily becomes more precarious.