ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is setting his sights on Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck and Goldline, which is one of the sponsors of his eponymous television program.
The report, which will kick off tonight on “Nightline,” focuses on investigations into the company currently underway in California.
The Ross report takes Beck to task directly, from the headline (“Exclusive: Glenn Beck’s Golden Advertiser Under Investigation”) to the substance of the article, examining the argument that Beck’s endorsement of Goldline has been used to deceive potential customers into purchasing gold coins.
But the potent blend of conservative talk and gold sales has brought scrutiny, initially from the political left. U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, called the relationship between Goldline and the conservative talk shows an “unholy alliance.”
“There is an unholy alliance, I call it, between the commentators on Fox News and Fox News’ advertising policies to sell ads to these guys,” Weiner said. “If you’re going to advocate for buying gold, it’s certainly your right to do that. But you should tell your viewers there’s a dumb way and a smart way to buy gold And very often those advertisements are for a very dumb way to buy gold.”
ABC News got representatives for Beck and Fox News to respond to its investigation:
Beck and Fox News declined to be interviewed by ABC News, but a spokesperson for Beck noted that Goldline has an A plus rating from the Better Business Bureau and the consumer fraud investigation in California is more about politics than anything else.
“We expect our advertisers to treat our audience well. With its A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Goldline has met that standard before and we expect any issues that our listeners have to be addressed swiftly and appropriately, even if complaints only represent a small percentage of overall orders,” said Josh Raffel, a spokesman for Beck.
A Fox News spokeswoman said the network has not received a single complaint from a viewer about Goldline.
ABC News has regularly hosted talent from Fox News on its programming, most notably on the Sunday morning public affairs show “This Week,” which has counted Greta Van Susteren and Roger Ailes as guests in the past few months. Bill O’Reilly has also appeared with some regularity on “Good Morning America.” Fox News also features ABC News talent as guests on its programming.
In addition to “Nightline” Ross will appear tomorrow on “Good Morning America” to talk about the investigation. He also has a written article about the investigation here.
Earlier this year, a report from Ross focusing on Toyota’s recall troubles drew criticism when it was revealed that they had edited shots during a test drive that made an acceleration problem seem more severe than it actually was.
Update: a tipster notes that the investigations currently underway in California are not looking at Beck’s involvement with Goldline, and points us to this quote from the very end of the ABC News piece:
Glenn Beck has nothing to do with our investigation. Our investigation is about transactions with individual customers and the complaints that they’ve raised. And politics really has nothing to do with it. It’s all about consumer protection for us.