O'Reilly, Beck get F+ for defense of Goldline's dubious “A+” rating

Bill O'Reilly hosted Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) last night to discuss Weiner's calls for a congressional investigation into Glenn Beck's relationship with Goldline. Moments into the discussion, O'Reilly echoed Beck's defense of Goldline by pointing to their “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau. From last night's O'Reilly Factor (transcript via Nexis):

O'REILLY: [W]hy did U.S. Better Business Bureau give Gold Line the highest rating A+. You see, I mean, look, if I'm a broadcaster and I did this on the “Radio Factor” . I worked with a company called Blanchard Gold.

WEINER: Correct.

O'REILLY: And now we checked them out. And they, you know, if it comes back Better Business Bureau A+ highest rating. I'm going to do the slot.

WEINER: Yes, well, let me tell you. First of all --

O'REILLY: But why did they get an A+ if you say they are a bunch of charlatans?

Weiner went on to point to a 2009 Los Angeles Times report about the Better Business Bureau's problematic grading system. A business can pay the BBB to be listed as “accredited” business - and that in turn seems to affect their grade. The Times wrote that “a random search of the organization's database of about 4 million North American companies seems to show that the roughly 400,000 accredited businesses, even those that get numerous complaints, very often receive higher grades than unaccredited companies with spotless complaint records.”

(The Times further reported that the “majority of the bureau's funds come from selling accreditation to companies” and quoted a spokesman saying that there “is no guarantee that an accredited business will get an A-plus.” )

In a May 19 post, Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer asked, “Did the BBB give Goldine an easy A?” Mencimer wrote:

After all, a Mother Jones investigation found that more than 40 people have filed complaints against Goldline with that very same BBB, and seven of those people reported back that Goldline refused to make them whole. Goldline also engages in a few practices that don't seem like they quite fit in with the BBB's stated ideas about good consumer practices. For instance, Goldline requires people to sign a nondisclosure form promising never to complain publicly about the company as a condition of getting a refund. It also aggressively uses caller ID to identify incoming callers so it can call them back and pitch them more stuff just like any telemarketer. And it presses people into making “investments” in European gold coins that lose a third of their value the minute they are purchased. Does that sound like an A+ kind of business?

All told, O'Reilly referred to Goldline's “A+” rating seven times, in addition to starting the segment with a clip of Beck repeatedly referring to its “A+” rating.

At one point during the segment, Weiner said, "[Y]ou're doing an excellent job defending this company," adding, “You are doing exactly what Glenn is doing.” And Weiner's coup de grace: “Bill, you're being a shill for this company.”

To be fair, O'Reilly doesn't shamelessly shill Goldline like Beck. But he did repeatedly point to Goldline's BBB rating without any critical examination. And that rating, along with Goldline itself and even Glenn Beck, appears to be nothing more than iron pyrite.