There is no shortage of commentaries out there now over the issue of SiriusXM temporarily suspending Glenn Beck from their airwaves over statements made by Brad Thor on-air. While it is important to point out that this could be a sign of censorship to come, the fact remains that SiriusXM is not beholden to the First Amendment. That also means the company needs to weigh the value of cutting off programming based on the responses of its customers. In this specific case, it is probably a matter of Thor being misconstrued, and SiriusXM leaping to the worst possible meaning of his comments. Thor did attempt to clarify his points, of course.
No matter what, the situation does lend itself to an important conversation that is often overlooked when issues of free speech come to the foreground. Too often it is forgotten that with “rights” come “responsibilities.” In the case of speech involving Donald Trump, unfortunately the weight of responsibility falls mostly on anyone who decides to say a single word about the man publicly. This is simply because Trump has already proven his ability to fight back severely against any detractors.
Thor undoubtedly knows this. SiriusXM has no desire to suffer from boycotts or other negative repercussions from Trump supporters, so it isn’t surprising that they assumed Thor might have meant the worst with his statement and acted accordingly. Yes, this can have a chilling effect on the concept of holding leaders accountable through the media.
When the media ceased to be the means for the masses to learn about the events of the day, and became vehicles for advertising that framed some milquetoast or fluffy stories, freedom of speech and the press suffered a great blow. Journalism is no longer about being the watchdog over government – it’s just stuff for advertisers to put their products around and in. Thor arguably knows that, too.
Instead of crying foul against a broadcasting company, perhaps the better route would be to point out that the media really has rendered itself meaningless anyway.