Saturday, July 24, 2010

Seeking the truth on the road from supporter to critic

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Guest viewpoint by Lisa Houserman

I'm a reporter in real life and even though I pretty much write for a living, this is the first time I've ever actually written a blog post. Anyone who reads my weekly column in our local paper knows that I generally just launch into my writing. Because of this, I figured that it was the best course of action to take with this particular piece as well. I think that simply telling my story about how I found the Review and also chatting about my long history of actually being a Glenn Beck fan might be a good starting and finishing point so here goes....

For about 2 years I was a very devoted fan of Glenn Beck. I taped his show nightly, listened to his radio show and also saw one of his comedy tours, which was simulcast in a local movie theater. I feel it is pertinent to my story to let you know that I truly was a Beck freak. The reason why I enjoyed him so much was due to his sense of humor and because I thought he had the makings of a possible, future libertarian thinker.

Full disclosure here. I am a libertarian thinker and, although I realize some of our political goals will never be reached and am a realist, I still feel that the libertarian way of thinking offers the most individual freedom compared to the other parties.

Anyhow, I noticed a change in Beck right around the first of the year. It seemed to me that he was trying to push the idea that the Founding Fathers were super, duper religious or something. I really didn't understand what his point was because even if it were true and they were all evangelical Christians, for example, it didn't change the fact that the United States is secular with freedom of or from religion for all. Then, I began to notice how he almost frothed at the mouth over all things Obama. He talked about the radicals that Obama surrounded himself with in his administration and seemed obsessed with this.

At first, I believed Beck. Now, I am not a stupid person and never thought I was easily taken in by anyone, including Beck. Well, as time went by, I saw more changes in him and was starting to feel a touch uncomfortable with his methods. Since I was always glued to Fox News and really, really, really believed that they were telling the truth on many of their shows, I found it to be a struggle within to even look at another channel such as CNN or MSNBC, just for two examples. Also, Beck, and others at the network, constantly called folks like Media Matters “smear merchants” and that was pretty much taken as gospel by me. I honestly believed just about everything this person said. 

I began to feel even more uneasy when he began to really get out of control in his views and would then claim to be a libertarian. I felt that he was not a libertarian and, by the way, just to get off subject here for a moment, a good test in finding out if someone really is a libertarian thinker is this. Just ask if he/she thinks the war should come to an end or if we should cut military spending. Also, ascertain whether or not the person thinks we truly own our bodies and should be able to put whatever we want in them, in terms of drugs. Ask him/her too about gay marriage. I think you get where I'm going here and Beck does not answer correctly to any of the above.

Moving along to what happened with my quest for the truth about Beck, I was more or less dared to investigate him with an open mind. Since I'm known as an open minded, non spin reporter, I took my friends up on this issue and boy, I did not like what I found. At first, I didn't believe what I unearthed and still was in the mindset that the “liberal media” was making stuff up about Beck.  Well, as the mind opened up further, I really took in a bunch of information and discovered this very blog in the process.

What I admired about the Review was that Victor said in his description of himself that he is a Lincoln Republican. So, I felt comfortable in knowing that I wasn't looking at some exceptionally far left blog. I also found that Victor backed up all his statements and I know, from experience, that this is a very timely effort.

OK, getting back to the overly religious tone that Beck's show took, I noticed that he began to have this guy named David Barton appear on a pretty regular basis. This guy was not making sense with some of the stuff he was saying and I began to look at him as well. What I found was stunning and quite frightening, to tell you the truth.

David Barton was heavily involved in the changing of the Texas textbooks during that insanity.  He also claims to be an historian when in fact, he's a right wing religious nut who denies that separation of church and state exists! Beck has been elevating this character and people have been buying Barton's books right and left.  They all deal with revisionist history.  They all also claim that the founders were total Christians and most were ministers!  He comes to that conclusion because they went to seminaries. Barton has a degree in religion from Oral Roberts University and is NOT an expert on history, unless it's his own version of such.

For a thorough debunking of Barton, go to this link and watch Chris Rodda take a turn at him: This is a several part series and is really well done. Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Beck has a ton of influence and even had me buying books right and left until I began to research him on a regular basis. During the course of my studies, I developed a hypothesis and it did work out they way I thought it might. My hypothesis was that Beck's whole shtick was linked to his Mormonism in some fashion. I just had the gut feeling. Turns out that I was right. Rather than my typing this out, I'm sure Victor will direct you now to a piece he did about this. [See "The Man Who Changed Glenn Beck's Life."]

A book that I found to be very helpful was Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance (Wiley, May 2010) by Alex Zaitchik.   It was chock-full of information and documentation of Beck's career spanning many years.  This book is filled to the max with footnotes for those who are of the 'doubting Thomas' mindset like I was. I also have looked at videos and read transcripts of interviews with this author.  I highly recommend this book and give it five out of five stars.
Now, this whole investigative process was quite painful for me and, as I've explained to Victor, people who are set in their ways and have closed minds will never, in a month of Sundays, take the time to look at another viewpoint or do any kind of research. People become comfortable in their own belief systems and do not want to rock their own emotional boats, so to speak. Also, and more importantly, people, including myself, do NOT want to admit to having been wrong. It is extraordinarily difficult and against our basic nature to say, “Hey, I was fooled for over two years!”
In the end, I admitted to having been brainwashed by Beck and by Fox News in general. I now have been actually looking at other networks, blogs, websites, etc., and have found that I get a variety of news by doing so. As a journalist myself, I am a stickler for accuracy in reporting. Ironically enough, I used to put Fox and Beck on pedestals because I thought that integrity was on their list of things to do as well. Boy was I wrong and here, I'm admitting it freely and honestly.
So, in closing, I thank Victor for asking me to do this guest spot and, I encourage anyone out there who is still a Beck fan to take an honest and open look at this person. Go ahead over to Media Matters—they don't bite! Keep reading this blog and most important of all, be honest with yourselves.

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Anonymous said...

So after all I read here, I see no proof that you have proven him wrong or found out how he has lied or mislead you or others.......WOW. Must be nice to be a journalist and not present any information proving your points.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this and you are not alone.
I found Glenn on the radio the day after the terrorist attacks on 9/12/01. I was away from the office and just wanted to find more coverage when i heard Beck talking about what had happened.

I was hooked and was soon proud to call myself a sick, twisted freak. (awwww yeah!)

I bought his book as a gift to give friends, i encouraged my family and friends to listen because The Glenn Beck Show was truly entertaining and enlightening.

I too became turned off by the whole "founding father" adoration from Beck.

My thoughts are
a.) The constitution wasn't written for the estimated 308 million people living in America today.
b.) It was written for the estimated 2.5 million people living over 200 years ago.

Why on Earth would we want to go backwards???

As a "patriot" how can Glenn continually bash our President while our troops are still dying over seas?

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous said..."So after all I read here, I see no proof that you have proven him wrong or found out how he has lied or mislead you or others.......WOW"

WOW. First of all, this is not my post; it's a story about a woman who decided Beck was playing loose with the facts.

Next, again, there are so many examples of Beck misleading, making false claims and telling flat out whoppers here. He called Shirley Sherrod a "Marxist" Wednesday when he was "defending" her. No proof, just that she was helping poor people. Isn't that what Jesus called upon his followers to do? It's clear that Beck cannot or does not try to make that distinction.

Facts don't matter to ideologues. Facts will make a Beckerhead just dig their heels in deeper as we see Breitbart and Beck both doing this week. How about "Beck on war, weasels and Elena Kagan?" You think that Beck told you the truth that Obama ran as a peace candidate? This isn't up for interpretation; Obama ran on the pledge to take it to the Taliban in Afghanistan, not on a peace platform. Beck LIED about that. I could go on and on, but ideologues don't care about the facts. Anonymous: dig your heels real deep.

Anonymous said...

I think the lady journalist is very courageous and honest to admit being wrong. Beck is a dangerous man and if people don't KNOW what he lies the first post here...they should do some research and find out! And FOX news is being exposed daily for their outlandish reporting. They have become a joke. It is only a matter of time for them.

Anonymous said...

Hello I'm a Glenn Beck fan, but that doesnt mean I agree with him 100 % of the time, you would have to be silly to think otherwise, would be imposible to agree with somebody else 100 % of the time, of course He sometimes try to manipulate people, but who on TV doesn't, now if I have been a Gleen Beck follower has been because I consider He shows a point of view its not show anywhere else; He had showed videos of people working in the administration several times, saying a lot of scary things, but nobody pay any attention, I'd give money to anybody that can show me Van Jones didn't say what He appears to be saying in those videos:this is the point, you can say whatever you want about mister Beck, but you just want to discredit him without any real fact, that's so common in this days, I don't have a problem with him being a religious guy, I'm not, but that doesn't interfere with the facts He present. I believe in Mr Beck more than in this administration, and I give you an example, this week they just approve the extension of the unemployment benefits, Glenn Beck opposes that, and me too, and of course the government showed us a lot of silly arguments to support that, I'm not blind, and I can see all this is done just for political purposes, thank you

Lisa Houserman (guest blogger) said...

Victor, Thank you for again for giving me the opportunity to post some of my story.

That first response that I got was interesting because my main reason for posting wasn't necessarily to give a ton of examples in terms of Beck's misinformation.

I figured that anyone really wanting to look in an open and honest manner, could simply click on one of the many, many, many examples you have given on almost a daily basis.

In other words, my reason for posting this was almost like when folks get up at AA meetings and tell their stories. It was more of an admission of having been taken in by Beck. It was not meant to be filled with facts about Beck's misinformation-giving-spree. I figured folks who really, really want to know, could start right here on the Review by clicking one of the topics you have listed.

Also, I do agree that Beck has, in his life, said things that were true. I just don't have the time or inclination these days to fact check every one of his statements. I did that enough while searching for the truth and the cons outweighed the pros by a huge ratio.

Thanks to all who commented thus far. It's been a trip posting this blog and it was kind of fun as well.

Anonymous said...

It's always a good idea to do a little digging when ever you hear someone starting to climb on their 'soap box', and begin to speak in absolutes.
Being in the media biz (specifically TV series, T.V. Movies Of the Week and features) for around 30 years I would caution anyone who listens to anybody being broadcast on a regularly scheduled commentary program to remember one simple rule about any of these people- THEY'RE ON TELEVISION. They're usually paid on a multi-year contract and are expected to develop and execute the programs 'content' on a daily/weekly basis, all of which are aimed at Attaining or Retaining MARKET SHARE/RATINGS for their T.V.Station which results in bigger advertising $$ budgets and Sponsor commitments. Sorry kids, but it's still 'business as usual' and that means it's all about the 'Doe Rae Mi' :)
If 'Glen','Bill' or whomever aren't getting their expected share of 'faithful viewers' sitting on the couch tuning in you can bet they'll be getting a call from 'Corporate' mandating them to 'stir the hornets nest' or whatever to get their ratings/viewer ship where they want it. "Thats' Entertainment"... :)

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous said... "Thats' Entertainment"... :)

Except Beck bills his show as a mix of entertainment and enlightenment. It's the latter that is being challenged by The Glenn Beck Review. Beck is purposely misinforming his audience and many of his supporters refuse to acknowledge that. They are being conned by the most deceitful man on TV "news." Oh, and Beck is a hypocrite, not once, not twice but repeatedly.

I guess it takes a lot of passion to look past these character traits.

Anonymous said...

Great testimony Lisa.
For those (conveinantly anonymous) commentators who are whining there are no examples and facts in this testimony, well....just click on some of the links in the right sidebar. Victor has, as Lisa states, done his homework! Victor's many examples and facts are just that, facts.

There are some good honest comments here too.
I appreciate blogs where 'grown-ups' comment.

I too WAS a Beck fan, when he was on CNN I watched faithfully. Back then, he would ocassionally wobble and tilt, but for the most part, he seemed normal enough.

My "turning point" wasn't even political. It was when he began interviewing "Dog" the bounty hunter. He was fawning all over this really whacked guy, looking starry eyed like a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert.
I knew then and there that this guy was far more nutty than CNN could handle, and he started showing it more frequently.
When Obama was elected he REALLY lost it. Far-out rants were then the norm. I just couldn't bare to watch anymore, never knowing when he was going to cry, rant, and just plain make stuff up!

As far as being a libertarian?
I'll say the same thing to Beck as I've said to other wannabe Libertarians; You comment on legislation you should never even consider as a libertarian! Legislation you should believe does not deserve to exist. Lisa gives those examples.

I never was a full-blown Beckerhead.
Thank God I saw the crack in his skull before I ever got there.

Keep up the critical and objective views Lisa.
My hat's off to you!

Lisa Houserman (guest blogger) said...

Kansas, Thank you so much for your kind words and insight.

It's nice to know that others have returned from the dark side, so to speak.

Excellent points about libertarianism as well.

Very nice of you to post and I thank you again for doing so.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to have found this site... I have been so frustrated by my very intelligent friends being duped by Fox news and especially Glenn Beck. Ms. Houserman; thank you for your very honest account, it has given me hope!

Lisa Houserman (guest blogger) said...

Dear Catholic Hippie, That's the thing about Beck. He seems to take in people of all kinds. For instance, I might not be a rocket scientist but I didn't think I was a dumb dumb. However, I was duped by this person AND by Fox!! I believed them. Just be gentle with your friends and have them read my "confession" above! Thanks for the comment.

Unknown said...

LMAO! What a bunch of transparent shills for a lunatic fringe rag like MediaSmatters. Their lies fill up 53, that's FIFTY-THREE pages at NewsBusters. Don't take my word for it, find out what outrageous scumrag liars they are. (Of course, if you didn't already know.)

* The three smell-tests little Lisa offers as Libertarian are exactly what proves Paulbots as immature, unprincipled and stone ignorant children. It also proves them only one-half step above the sniveling brats of a Progs.

* The unimaginable lie that our Founding Fathers weren't religious and did not establish our freedom utilizing the wisdom they learned from it is clear stupidity at face value. Regardless of faith learned or practiced, they knew morality played a foundational role in obtaining and maintaining liberty for America...Their quotes clearly reveal it. To even suggest that the separation of church and state is a complete refusal of religious influence on government is a Communist invention designed to destroy democracies.

* Little Lisa's bewilderment of Beck's rightful outrage over a bigoted Socialist who was elected president apprentice and is dismantling the foundations of our liberty within two years, is yet another testament to her stone ignorance. It's truly a sickening confession, really.

Oh, I could go on to completely burn up the rest of the authors as well as this joke of a blog in mindless twaddle but, sniveling brats rarely, if ever, benefit from the truth without an earth-shaking epiphany preceding it. Call if you ever mature enough to reach yours and the lessons will continue.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Wing hunter, you're a mean spirited prick; you learn well grass hopper. I will investigate your charges. Much of what Media Matters offers is just Beck's words. I take it from there. You need to spend some time on here to read my posts because I prove repeatedly that Beck is a liar and a hypocrite. Of course, your are one of the ideological extremists who are notorious for not changing your views no matter what the facts.

Take your shot cheap shot artist; burn me up. You can start with "What is the truth about Glenn Beck." We will see who the "sniveling brat" is, if you actually possess the balls to have this argument here on these posts.

You call this President a "bigoted Socialist" suggests that you are in fact a racist and lacking in college political science. Don't take my word, read the critic of Obama from Green on his Regressive Antidote. You'll have a hard time with it; he's attacking reactionaries like you and Beck, Palin, Limbaugh and others who seem clueless as to what socialism is.

Do you have any idea which class of people that Jesus supported? It wasn't the rich and powerful. It was the poor. What you call "Socialist" is corporate liberalism, but it's clear that you have your sorry excuse for a mind made up.

Anonymous said...

I was never a fan of Beck, nor will I ever be. I could never bring myself to make it through 1 show without going in to hysterics or total bewilderment, wondering what planet he was really on...
I think ALL miss the Libertarian points you make.
I think it takes a lot of guts and courage to investigate the negative? side of something you believed in so fiercely to find truth, we need more self thinking people like you, Wonderful article and Kudos to you Lisa!!

best wishes,

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous said..."Hello I'm a Glenn Beck fan, but that doesnt mean I agree with him 100 % of the time, you would have to be silly to think otherwise, would be imposible to agree with somebody else 100 % of the time, of course He sometimes try to manipulate people, but who on TV doesn't, now if I have been a Gleen Beck follower has been because I consider He shows a point of view its not show anywhere else; He had showed videos of people working in the administration several times..."

You are a fan of a liar, hypocrite and a charlatan. It's not Beck's POV that discredits him; it's his deceit and hypocrisy that should give you pause. You need to understand that not only does Beck show video that takes people out of context, he Breitbarts President Obama. Then he offers "analysis" based upon his fear-mongering rather than what Obama was even talking about.

You are purposely and systematically misinformed by The Glenn Beck Show, and Beck is a wizard at persuasion. You and the rest of Beck's fan base are being fooled and used by a fool and a selfish, anti-intellectual demagogue.

Unknown said...

Glen Beck really does not like smart people does he? Especially if they are an expert on whatever topic he`s lying about today.I watched his show for about a6 month period when i had relapsed on heroin and he came on early on the west coast at like 4:00 am PST and that is when i would get up and cook my drugs, shoot my drugs and listen to Glen Beck.I didn't even notice he was crazy until i got sober and wasn't crazy myself,then i started thinking this asshole is everything i hate,being a scumbag liberal, Antichrist,socialist myself.I started reading and read about when he was a punk assed radio dick in Arizona,called up a rival DJ`s wife who had just miscarried their first child and mocked this poor woman till she was crying,how her husband couldn't even do that right.Then his own daughter was born less than perfect,maybe that is what he is talking about "THE SIGNS" Thank you this site rocks.Nobody challenges him on this.You Do!

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Eva, in all fairness to other bloggers, News Hounds, The Glenn Beck Report and Media Matters for America all do an excellent job of covering Mr. Beck. I try to add in-depth analysis to go along with fact finding.

Appreciate your compliment and glad that you kicked the horse.

Unknown said...

This is what we need to bring people out of the influence of "conservative" radio. We need people who have experienced both sides, people who can create unbiased reports of both the "good" side and the "bad" side. We need facts, not insults or theories (there is no way to prove the existence of a god, despite its influence over followers).
Most conservatives can relate with one who has been on their side, and despite the stereotype of the GOP being dumbasses, there are smart ones out there who are willing to look at official information and statistics (if they don't think of government-created info as some kind of liberal scheme).

bobbcat said...

Poor Glenn. He should have stuck to his comedy routines & just covering the current events of the day. After he jumped the proverbial shark, I found myself saying quite often when listening to him "You missed your calling; you should be an evangelistic minister, a la Jimmy Bakker." Seriously.

Now I understand he is planning a comedy tour. Perhaps he is starting to see the writing on the wall......