Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For master-of-decontextualization, Glenn Beck, "context matters"

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On his show of 7/20/2010, Glenn Beck insisted how "context matters" in the case of fired USDA official, Shirley Sherrod. See video below:

Here's the problem with Beck's new found discovery of how much context matters: until yesterday Beck used video and text pulled from their contexts routinely for the purpose of conveying misinformation. Several examples from Media Matters for America (MM) and from previous posts (GBR) follow:
  • Beck cropped Berwick quote to claim it "confirms everything that we said about him."On the July 8 edition of his Fox News show, Beck claimed that a quote from Donald Berwick, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, "confirms" what Beck and Fox News had previously said about how health care reform will lead to the rationing of health care. (MM)
  • Beck repeatedly showed video clip of Joel Rogers pointing out how much carbon needs to be reduced. Beck claimed that it showed "”So we can all live in teepees, and we still won’t save the Earth.” Rogers explained that "that activists often underestimate how deep the transformation of our economy’s got to be." (GBR)
  • Beck distorted Obama's comments from 1995 to accuse him of "racism" and "profiling." On the June 14 edition of his radio program, Beck aired an edited audio clip of Obama saying, "I really want to emphasize the word 'responsibility.' I think that whether you are a white executive living out in the suburbs who doesn't want to pay taxes to inner-city children --" Beck then likened the comments to "code language" and said they sounded "like racism." (MM)
  • Beck distorted Obama's edited statements from his press conference at G-20 to falsely accuse him of seeking to redistribute world incomes. Obama was actually talking about fair trade. (GBR)
  • Beck cropped Green for All CEO's speech to claim she admitted to a "plan to take over the country." On the June 10 edition of his Fox News program, Beck played a portion of a speech by Green for All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins in which she stated: "When Glenn Beck started talking about me, someone said, 'Are you angry?' And what I said to him is, 'Absolutely, we have a plot to take over this country. Absolutely we do.' It's not a hidden agenda." Beck then said: "See what's happening? They do have a plot, a plan to take over the country. And the mask is coming off." In fact, Ellis-Lamkins explained that the "agenda" of Green for All is that "all people deserve equality" -- not, as Beck suggested, a sinister plot to take over the country. (GBR)
  • Beck distorted Wallis' remarks on "redistribution of wealth" to attack him as a "Marxist." On the April 6 edition of his Fox News show, Beck distorted comments Rev. Jim Wallis made to claim he is a "Marxist," playing audio of Wallis agreeing that "redistribution of wealth in society" is "what the Gospel is about." In fact, in the interview Beck selectively clipped, Wallis actually discussed individuals who "transformed" their lives to focus on charity, highlighting how Bill and Melinda Gates have been "doing a redistribution of wealth" through their philanthropy. (MM)
  • Beck falsely claimed Obama told tea partiers to "get out of the way." During the March 26 edition of his Fox News show, Beck claimed that Obama was speaking about tea partiers when he "went out on the road and he said you gotta get out of the way, because I just need to mop up the mess." However, in the speech Beck cited, Obama was discussing "folks on the other side of the aisle" who created the financial "mess," not tea party protesters. (MM)
Media Matters has more examples, but the point is obvious: Glenn Beck has violated his stated principle that "context matters" repeatedly. This is another example of Beck's hypocrisy, but it's deeper than this. Beck ignored the greater context of this whole story. The Glenn Beck Review gives the floor to Rachel Maddow:

The full context Beck ignored in his coverage completely neglected Fox's role in her removal. Beck also ignored the white farmers who Sharrod helped. Roger Spooner, now 87 defended Sharrod. He said, had been "helpful in every way -- she saved our farm." On Anderson Cooper he added, " a bunch of hogwash, in my opinion. She was just as nice to us as anyone could have been. And, as far as racism and all, that's -- it's just ridiculous."  Beck's claim that mainstream media is ignoring this story also didn't hold water. It's all over the evening news and obviously CNN and MSNBC. Beck isn't aware of what's happening in his own line of business, but this has been demonstrated previously.

There may be more here than what meets the eye, but Beck with his great concern for context most likely was not aware of. As reported in The Washington Examiner, there is a back story that concerns a settlement of a lawsuit not long before her appointment to the USDA for New Communities, an organization that she and her husband had founded, and they each received $150,000 for pain and suffering. The lawsuit, Pigford vs. Vilsack, was the largest award to date. Vilsack is the USDA director, who fired Sharrod, not the White House as Sharrod and Beck claimed above.

This story is still unfolding as Vilsack today explained that he is reviewing the circumstances behind the video and showing a willingness to reconsider his actions. Presidential press secretary, Robert Gibbs has just apologized to Ms. Sharrod.

 If you think that Sharrod deserves to be reinstated in her position with the U.S.D.A, there is a petition being circulated by Color of Change. It only takes a minute: This should be a no-brainer since Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow agree: she should be offered her job back.

Update, 18:00 EST, according the to Washington Post, Secretary Vilsack offered Sharrod her post back.