Really Strange Bedfellows: Glenn Beck & Joan Rivers?

Activists on the left and the right might not agree on much, but everyone seems to love boycotting advertisers as a way of expressing their displeasure with program content.

The latest two targets: Fox News Channel’s “Glenn Beck,” and the Comedy Central “Roast of Joan Rivers.”

The Parents Television Council has not only issued a strongly worded press release of condemnation (fortunately, all the PTC’s press releases sound this way, so it’s nothing to get too alarmed about) regarding the vulgarity of the Rivers roast but even warned viewers in advance. And something like 2.8 million of them still tuned in (perverts), although that represented a steep decline from the last showcase featuring Larry the Cable Guy.

Frankly, I tried to watch some of the roast and quickly turned it off — not because it was offensive to my delicate sensibilities, but simply because it was awful, unfunny and most of the comics on hand make me weep all over again for the loss of George Carlin.

Beck, meanwhile, has come under fire since a rant in which he called President Obama a “racist” and said he has a “deep-seated hatred for white people,” which is among the more sober and restrained things that the Howard Beale wannabe has said lately. The New York Times reports that about a dozen sponsors have withdrawn from Beck’s program, which is always amusing — like these sponsors were shocked, shocked to discover that lunacy is going on in this establishment.

Frankly, sponsor boycotts make the protesters feel better but seldom serve much of a purpose in the long term. If a program’s successful, the advertisers that slip away will be replaced or eventually return. It’s happened over and over, from “NYPD Blue” (too blue for Christian conservatives) to “Dr. Laura” (who drew fire from gay-rights activists).

In other words, it’s a shell game — one that networks have pretty well mastered, whether the fire comes from the left or the right.

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