FCC regulations have clamped down on free speech on the radio in recent years. Most popular radio personalities have made their peace with that, coming close to the imaginary line without actually crossing it. Even shock jocks have somewhat capitulated, going for silly and crass rather than deep blue.
The FCC’s Increasing Influence
But as the money and power began to shift more toward a political talk format, the FCC began to pay closer attention to what was being said on programs not traditionally known for offending sensibilities. Preventative measures were put in place as networks and stations worked to avoid potential fines and license suspensions.
Enter Glenn Beck. The former Fox host reinvented himself with a multimedia empire on radio and the Internet. He’s been embroiled in some controversy, but it’s always seemed to help his career and boost his Blaze brand.
Beck’s Radio Guest Makes Political Comment
Then, last week, author Brad Thor was on Beck’s Sirius radio program. The conversation shifted to a hypothetical situation in which Donald Trump was president and began abusing his power. This scenario is a real fear for people like Thor and Beck and their fans, as well as many others who cannot make their peace with Trump as a political nominee for President.
In the hypothetical, Thor wondered aloud “what patriot will step up … if (Trump) oversteps his mandate as president?”
Thor later clarified his comments, on Twitter, of course, saying he was discussing what might happen if Trump goes “full dictator.”
Sirius refused to acknowledge the context of the comments, releasing this statement as reported by Fox:
“SiriusXM encourages a diversity of discourse and opinion on our talk programs. However, comments recently made by a guest on the independently produced Glenn Beck Program, in our judgment, may be reasonably construed by some to have been advocating harm against an individual currently running for office, which we cannot and will not condone … For that reason, we have suspended ‘The Glenn Beck Program’ from our Patriot channel for the coming week and are evaluating its place in our lineup going forward. SiriusXM is committed to a spirited, robust, yet responsible political conversation and believes this action reflects those values.”
Sirus Suspends Over Guest’s Comment
This tactic is entirely public relations backside covering. Beck didn’t make the comments. Those came from Thor. And, regardless, the comments were couched and, later, over-explained. So, what do you think? Is this a just response, or is Sirius simply acting in the hopes of mollifying a vocal social media mob?
Roman Temkin is an entrepreneur in New York City.