So far, it's been difficult to gauge public reaction to some of the extreme reactions on the right to the health care debate, at least as far as polling is concerned. But there's one place where left-leaning political outrage has led to tangible results, in the hands of the online grassroots group Color of Change. In the past two weeks, the group, led by James Rucker, has managed to get ten advertisers to pull their ads from Glenn Beck's program after his comments attacking President Obama as a "racist". Thus far, ConAgra, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, RadioShack, Men’s Wearhouse, State Farm, Sargent, LexisNexis-owned Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, SC Johnson and GEICO have all pulled their ads from Beck's show, in response to advocacy from CoC and its members. At Jack and Jill Politics, Rucker writes that their online petition has garnered over 125,000 signatures.
I spoke to Rucker a little while ago about how the campaign was going. At the time, only a handful of companies had pulled their ads, but Rucker was confident that others would follow suit. "We had to have a few conversations," Rucker said, but they bluntly told the companies that "You really don't want to be underwriting hate." Rucker also said that some of the companies had bought ads at a discount rate and weren't themselves deciding when the ads would run--so without the pressure from CoC and their members, their association with Beck wouldn't have even been brought to their attention. "For some people, they want to avoid the conversation, they're not looking to make a political statement," Rucker says, but "they realize that inaction can create consequences for them as well."
The venom coming from the right recently hasn't yet created a visible popular backlash. But as a result of CoC's efforts, it's certainly hurting Glenn Beck. It's a reminder that this kind of craziness can have consequences, if dealt with properly.
-- A. Serwer