Glenn Beck's Gold Connections Come Under Scrutiny

(CBS)
Fox News personality Glenn Beck's tirades against the Obama administration and ominous warnings about the state of the economy have proven to be controversial in and of themselves.

In recent weeks, however, his economic commentary -- which includes endorsements for purchasing gold -- has come under scrutiny because of his financial ties to a gold retailer.

Goldline International, a company that sells gold coins, recently had to clarify to the Fox News network that Beck is not a "paid spokesman" for their company, the New York Times reports, even though he had been identified as such on the Goldline Web site. A senior executive for Fox told the Times that such an affiliation would have been "problematic without question."

Fox News reportedly released a statement offering its policy on the matter: "Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson."

Goldline told the Times that the company did not specifically pay Beck to speak on its behalf -- Goldline has merely been a longtime advertise on Beck's radio and television shows.

Another gold retailer, however, suggested to Politico that the industry does expect endorsements from on-air commentators: "You pay anybody on any network, and they say what you pay them to say," said Peter Epstein, president of Merit Financial Services, which advertises on Beck's show. "They're bought and sold."

The apparent conflict of interest between Beck's on-air commentary and his multiple advertising deals with gold investment firms was targeted by the watchdog group Media Matters and skewered by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central.

On-air endorsements like Beck's could soon be subject to stricter regulations. The Federal Communications Commission is considering amending its rules to set higher standards for the disclosure of paid endorsements on broadcast and cable television, Huffington Post reports.

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