Last Updated Dec 14, 2009 12:54 PM EST
Joel Cheatwood, the senior vice president of development for Fox News, said the network's legal department had recently sent a letter to Mr. Beck's representatives "seeking clarification" about his work for Goldline.
"They sent back word that he is not a paid spokesman," Mr. Cheatwood said, adding that it would be "problematic without question" if Mr. Beck did have a position as a paid spokesman for a product.
Fox News released a statement outlining its official policy about such issues: "Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson."(Let's set aside the fact that Cheatwood can't simply storm into Beck's office and demand to know what's up, like a normal boss. Apparently the relationship between the two is so craven that Beck's bosses have to go through his people first.)
On Beck's Dec. 14 radio show he said of Goldline:
Don't tell anyone I'm being paid for this commercial!Beck's relationship with Goldline ought to remain "problematic" simply because he is obviously endorsing Goldline. And that's before we get to the allegations that Goldline vastly inflates the price of gold that it sells.
Hopefully, the FCC can put a stop to all this. It already has a discussion document out seeking tighter disclosure of endorsment rules.
And finally: Don't feel too much sympathy for Fox's Cheatwood. He is often credited with inventing the sideshow barker style in modern news reporting, while at WSVN in Miami in the late 1980s. This is really a case of Dr. Frankenstein having to deal with the monster he created.