Glenn Beck Protester Eyes Fox Re-ups


When Glenn Beck went on Fox & Friends in July and accused President Obama of having a "deep-seated hatred of white people and white culture," he caught the attention of Color of Change, an organization that "exists to strengthen Black America's political voice," according to the group's Web site. Color of Change's campaign against Beck has been successful; it has secured commitments from 36 advertisers, including Clorox, Procter & Gamble and AT&T to stop advertising on Beck's show. In return, Beck has used his TV show on Fox News as a forum to go after Color of Change founder Van Jones' ties to the Obama administration (he is a special advisor on Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.) To explain Color of Change's agenda, Brandweek spoke with James Rucker, a co-founder and executive director of the group (pictured left). Rucker said advertisers should be cognizant of how their advertising dollars can help support shows like Beck's and that the group is watching to see which advertisers stick with Fox after their contracts are up. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Brandweek: How long has Color of Change been around? What was the purpose?
James Rucker: Color of Change started literally two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. [We felt] as a group African-Americans didn't have anything like the political engagement and power needed to effect a better outcome for the governmental response to Katrina. It really was a response to that. It started with friends and family and it has grown over the last four years to about 600,000 people. We use a very similar model to MoveOn-I used to work at MoveOn-of using online engagement to work for change.

Glenn Beck is obviously your most high-profile campaign of late, but what else have you done in the past?

JR: We do a lot of work that's related to [New Orleans]. We've done a fair amount around representations of black people in the media and we've done a lot related to Fox. One of our most successful campaigns was to call on the Congressional Black Caucus Institute to not partner with Fox to do the presidential debates. We thought by aligning with Fox they'd be legitimizing Fox as a news organization when [Fox has] a pattern of attacking and disparaging black Americans. We raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the legal defense fund of the Jena Six and really raised the profile of that case nationally. So it's really a matter of holding members of Congress accountable and holding the media accountable.

BW: In the case of Glenn Beck, you went after the advertisers and it seems to have been effective. Do you think viewers put it together that if someone's advertising on a show they are implicitly endorsing it?
JR: Yeah. In fact, usually this would be an escalation [compared to what we usually do.] [Typically] we'd help a story get told and offer a pretty lightweight way for people to get engaged. Our belief was that fundamentally we thought we could connect the dots for our members and we did. It's really advertising dollars that allows them to have a platform. If there's no advertisers, no financial support then you'd have a much smaller platform. We connected the dots and so far 100,000 of our members have responded.

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