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Fox News, Talk Radio Hosts Strike Gold

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If you watch a lot of TV news, you become well aware of the consumer options for free credit reports, health-care products for the elderly and—if you watch Fox News in particular—gold. A fascinating story up at Politico examines the symbiosis between the conservative talkers peddling disaster and the various companies peddling the yellow stuff.

Why the magnetism between gold sellers and Glenn Beck, et al.? Precious metals have been a favorite investment of people looking to hedge against the apocalypse, long before Beck or even Fox News. A certain strain of paranoid thinker has often imagined hunkering down against the raging hordes, locked in with a cache of ammo, canned food, and portable, tangible gold. Which makes the likes of Beck natural places for gold-sellers to advertise.

But, as the story notes, several of these talk hosts have gone beyond signing up gold advertisements on their shows to becoming paid pitchmen for gold. Talk host bemoans Obama and predicts economic collapse and apocalypse; angry, frightened viewers look for security; phones start ringing at gold retailers’ toll-free banks. Sign up Beck and others as endorsers and spokesmen for particular gold companies and, well—insert your favorite prospecting metaphor here.

Now there is a certain chicken-and-the-golden-egg situation here. I doubt Glenn Beck, for instance, is hawking apocalypse simply because it makes him attractive to the precious metals business. There are many, many more benefits, professional, cultural and monetary, for pushing his particular shtick.

But the money doesn’t hurt, and it at least bears knowing before viewers dash off to buy the security of gold (often, as the article notes, at considerably higher than market prices). And the article is worth a read simply for one advertiser’s frankness: “We advertise on Fox because it makes the phone ring… it’s the angry white man audience – it’s the conservative audience.” And: “You pay anybody on any network and they say what you pay them to say.”

Money talks. But gold—it practically screams.