First, let me make very clear that I like Thom Hartmann's radio show on Air America. Hartmann is an intelligent, thoughtful liberal with a lot to say about the state of our political system, foreign policy, and economy. Generally, I find him to be a very honest, sincere spokesperson for progressive causes.
Here's my problem with Hartmann: Like so many other radio hosts across the political spectrum, he's decided to use his good name to sell a service called "Goldline International." Goldline International is a network of gold brokers who are in the business of convincing people that the American dollar is on it's way out and the only way to protect personal wealth is through the purchase of "rare" gold coins.
And that, by itself, is fine. Radio shows cost money, which means they need advertisement revenue. Hartmann's not the only host to peddle Goldline- Randi Rhodes, Bill Press, and Ed Schultz do it too. And it's not just liberal hosts- I've heard Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham warn their listeners that if they are relying on paper wealth to provide for a stable financial future, they are setting themselves up for disaster when the economy inevitably tanks.
But here's where Hartmann crosses the line-- I'm listening to a rebroadcast of his show on Sunday afternoon. Hartmann is discussing the economy in very general terms, when he "just happens" to mention that economic indicators point to a rise in inflation coming, possibly by the end of the year. "We can see prices already starting to rise, and that explains the spikes in gold prices over the last year." After making a few more points, Hartmann goes to commercial---- and the VERY FIRST COMMERCIAL that comes on is- you guessed it- Tom Hartmann pitching "rare gold coins" from Goldline International "as a hedge against Inflation."
Come on, there's got to be a line here that's been crossed. Hartmann educates his listeners on the issues of Global Warming, the Health Care crisis, etc. His weekly interviews with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont ("Brunch with Bernie") are not to be missed. But Hartmann cheapens his profession and brings everything he says into question when he uses a general discussion of the economy to provide a subliminal plug for one of his advertisers. Makes me wonder if Goldline is paying extra for this kind of advertising- or Hartmann has a financial stake in the company. Either way, it's dishonest and dirty.
We expect more of you, Mr. Hartmann. A lot more.