New York Congressman Anthony Weiner sounded the war drums against Glenn Beck and other conservative talk radio hosts this morning by releasing a report accusing prominent advertiser Goldline of “ripping off” its customers.
According to a report released by the congressman’s office on Tuesday, Goldline “rips off consumers, uses misleading and possibly illegal sales tactics, and deliberately manipulates public fears of an impending government takeover.”
And the congressman believes that Beck, whose show Goldline heavily advertises on, as well as other conservative commentators have formed an “unholy alliance” with Goldline to generate an atmosphere of fear that is designed to help the company’s bottom line.
“This industry goes beyond Goldline, but the Goldline circle has been particularly cynical in its cultivation of these conservative commentators,” Weiner told Politico.com. “There are two industries that are intertwined here in this cynical play: the media industry and the online gold industry, and there is a lot of blame to go around.”
Beck was widely criticized last year for aggressively encouraging his Fox News viewers to buy gold, while at the same time serving as a pitchman for Goldline and featuring its ads on his Web site.
Beck’s reaction this morning was a reminder to his audience of two previous organized boycotts on his show and making references to McCarthyism, and tonight, Keith Olbermann invited Weiner over to respond.
“This is again another arm of this administration coming out to try to shut me down,” Beck said on his radio show on Tuesday.
Sorry Glenn, hate to point out the obvious that as a Congressman Weiner is from a part of the legislative branch of our government, a completely different entity from the executive branch.
Geesh, for a guy that clutches his copy of the United States Constitution as he weeps every other day you sure as shit don’t know much about the thing.
The congressman’s report based its findings on a study of 18 gold coins offered for sale on Goldline’s Web site. When it compared the sale price with the value of the gold if it were melted, it found an average markup of 90 percent. Coins sold as collector items were even higher, with a markup of 152 percent, Weiner’s report said.
Albarian defended gold as an investment and said his markup was 35 percent. He said melt value is only part of the value of a coin, which also has a collectible value that the company doesn’t set.
The report also alleges that Goldline salespeople were misrepresenting themselves as investment advisers. Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold said that while it’s not illegal to charge a high price, sellers were making misleading claims about gold’s investment value. Albarian said that was false.
Weiner said he would propose a new law that would require Goldline and other dealers to disclose their fees and explain such terms as melt value and resale value. In addition, he asked the Securities Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
Weiner described buying gold from Goldline specifically as a “bad deal,” and took ethical issues with the lack of disclosures in their advertising. “I never intended this to be a battle of wits with Glenn Beck,” he joked, adding that he didn’t think Beck had many wits to battle with.
Asked where the “crime” is in Goldline’s advertising, as opposed to simple ethical issues, he noted that there is little Congress can do against hosts without infringing on free speech, but he would like to write legislation that forces companies to make their disclosures “much clearer.”
While that might not completely deal with the issue, and certainly doesn’t properly chastise idiots like Beck who are nothing more snake oil salesmen for companies like Goldline, that is probably the best we can hope for.