There Are Two Types of Boycotts: The Elite-Supported and the Invisible

Then there’s Glenn Beck. The radio talker and Fox News show host drove the nutroots crazy in late July by expressing his belief that the president is a racist. Barack Obama’s attendance at and support of an objectively racist church run by an objectively racist pastor for 20 years, his characterization of his grandmother as a “typical white person,” and his more recent knee-jerk criticism of a white Cambridge police officer’s arrest of a black friend -- while admitting to all that he didn’t even know the facts of the situation -- apparently aren’t germane to the accuracy of Beck’s characterization.

The Associated Press’ David Bauder copied a press release -- er, pretended to run a news story -- claiming that 33 Fox News advertisers had directed that their commercials not air during Beck’s show. Bauder at least partially relied on information from, “a group that promotes political action among blacks and launched a campaign to get advertisers to abandon him.” That group happens to have been founded by current “green jobs czar” Van Jones. Imagine that.

On Wednesday afternoon, I could not find a list of the companies Color of Change claims will not advertise on Beck’s show. Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey reported on August 19 that at least some of the companies supposedly moving their ads from Beck hadn’t been advertising on the show in the first place. It’s possible that Fox News won’t lose even a dime in all of the hubbub. Meanwhile, Beck’s audience continues to be greater than competing shows at MSNBC, CNN, and CNN Headline -- combined. His Monday show’s audience nearly doubled the total of the other three. As with Whole Foods, the media coverage parade has been heavy, including the New York Times, Reuters, and a host of business news outlets.

Those same business news outlets and others “somehow” have entirely missed a boycott with at least 15 times more supporters than Whole Foods claimed above. That would be the American Family Association’s boycott of PepsiCo over what it claims is that company’s support of “the homosexual agenda,” homosexual publications, and corporate diversity training that borders on brainwashing.

The AFAs boycott site claims over 350,000 signed-up supporters, about the same number as successfully boycotted the Ford Motor Company for over two years. Yet a Google News search on “Pepsi boycott” and a Google News Archive search from January 2008 to July 2009 on “Pepsi boycott American Family Association” (each string entered without quotes) show that there has been virtually no meaningful coverage of the AFA’s boycott since it began.

Luckily for Ford, it did what it had to in order to end its AFA boycott in early 2008 -- just in time for it to refocus on its business while rivals General Motors and Chrysler slid into bankruptcy and government bailouts. The press also ignored that boycott. Although orchestrating an effective boycott of a company selling one-time big-ticket items is easier than doing it to a diverse corporate consumer-products conglomerate, Pepsi management would be well advised not to be complacent.

That leads me to cite the boycott that no one has organized, but which clearly exists.

It becomes more obvious with each passing month that General/Government Motors and Chrysler have permanently lost a large percentage of consumers who won’t buy a vehicle from a bailed-out and/or state-run company. Recent proof: Neither maker had an entry in the top 10 list of the most purchased vehicles under the cash-for-clunkers program (Toyota and Honda had three each, while Ford had two). GM’s share of sales from clunker trade-ins was only 17.6%, well below its already declining market share.

The press probably won’t recognize the informal GM-Chrysler boycott unless and until the doors shut for the final time at these companies, if even then. They’re too busy promoting usually ineffective boycotts with which they agree.