A few weeks ago, when the Washington Post ran a story on Fox News’ Glenn Beck, the Fox News personality’s inflammatory remarks about the President and progressivism in general made the rounds.
From the article:
By calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a “cancer,” Beck has achieved a lightning-rod status that is unusual even for the network owned by Rupert Murdoch. And that, in turn, has complicated the channel’s efforts to neutralize White House criticism that Fox is not really a news organization. Beck has become a constant topic of conversation among Fox journalists, some of whom say they believe he uses distorted or inflammatory rhetoric that undermines their credibility.
Journalists weren’t the only ones who were peeved. Apple boycotted, not just Beck’s program, but all of Fox News. So if you’re a fan, don’t expect to see any bitten fruit commercials on the network – despite the fact that the show in question is one of the most popular ones on a channel ranked #1 in cable news viewership.
In the past, there have been times we’ve all wondered whether Steve Jobs would base business decisions on personal feelings. The DroidDoes, iDon’t ads sparked arguments across the webs, as many of us debated whether Apple would ever get into bed with a carrier (Verizon) who took such potshots at it. And yet those iPhone-Verizon rumors persist, and neither side has definitively put them to rest. (UPDATE: The WSJ thinks a Verizon iPhone actually could be in the works.) Jobs has also been overheard attacking Google behind closed doors, yet was recently spotted amiably chatting up CEO Eric Schmidt at a coffee spot. Further, the Apple chief’s dim view of eReaders, as noted in previous comments that people “don’t read anymore,” gave way to the hype of the eBooks and iBookstore component of his upcoming iPad.
It may not always seem like it, but in the end, Jobs generally seems open to things that could benefit his company’s long-term interests (no matter how much grousing he does in the meanwhile). He is a business man, after all. But in this case, it’s not just about business. This powerful tech CEO found Beck so offensive, he disavowed any relationship with the whole entire network. This decision definitely seems personal.
And to be honest, I’m glad. All too often, companies take little interest in matters that don’t directly impact their bottom lines. And so they make deals with the devil for advertisements and cross-promotions, with little regard to the value or validity of the content their ads appear with. Anyone who laments the decaying state of journalism (or even entertainment) today need only look at ratings to understand why: Ratings determine ad revenue, so sensationalist content always seems to be king. Why provide something of value if you can just throw a reality show up there, with people backstabbing and fist-fighting with each other, and get a bigger viewership? Or in this case, why shouldn’t networks spotlight a controversial figure making radical statements, if advertisers continue to support that?
For once, however, it seems that this may not actually be the case here. Despite the popularity of Beck’s show, ad revenue hasn’t exactly been easy to come by:
More than 200 companies have joined a boycott of Beck’s program, making it difficult for Fox to sell ads. The time has instead been sold to smaller firms offering such products as Kaopectate, Carbonite, 1-800-PetMeds and Goldline International. A handful of advertisers, such as Apple, have abandoned Fox altogether. Network executives say they believe they could charge higher rates if the host were more widely acceptable to advertisers.
Despite giving up a promotional opportunity to reach masses of the mainstream population, I believe Apple did the right thing. I’m often gobsmacked by some of Cupertino’s decisions, so it’s heartening to see one I can really get behind.
Side note: I imagine that a Fox News iPad app won’t be in the works. Or if it is, what’s the likelihood of it getting approved? I’m guessing not very.