In The Backlash: Right-wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, author Will Bunch points out that our nation "had never seen anything like this--Beck was having an oversized influence on the national conversation, but his core motivations seemed not so much to better America's condition as to improve his own bottom line....And there was a not-so-secret ingredient that made the entire recipe work: Fear."(1)
The following is a compilation of examples(2) of Beck's paranoid style in the promotion of fear-mongering:
Beck: "I'm not a prophet," but "I can see the direction of where we're headed." On the May 6 broadcast of his radio show, Beck claimed that he "can see what's coming at us. I look at the news, and I can piece it all together, and I can see it, but it's a flat puzzle -- and it comes together, and I can see the direction." Though he cautioned that he is "not a prophet, by any stretch of the imagination," he claimed to be "a guy who refuses to not think out of the box," one who is "willing to think the unthinkable." He also said: "I can't necessarily see the events, but I can see the direction of where we're headed. But I can't tell you how time -- how long and how far out it is. I have no idea. There's no depth to that. So I'm wrong. When I say to you this is coming, it could happen tomorrow, it could happen in five years, but it's coming."
Beck: "We are fighting the darkness." On his September 27 radio show, Beck recited the last line of the Constitution, "With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" and said: "I think I understand that now better than I ever had." He went on to say, "We are fighting, not flesh and blood, but we are fighting the darkness -- and the darkness doesn't understand the light at all. I've told you before that everything is about to change." He concluded: "Everything that you thought was rock solid is not. Everything that you thought was solid will be liquid; everything that is liquid will be solid. In other words, a fundamental transformation of everything that you thought you could count on."
Beck: "I think we're headed for a civil war." On his June 23 radio show, Beck pointed to the immigration debate in Arizona and said, "I think we're headed for a civil war." He added: "I've talked to a few senators off the record about what's going on, and I'm not sure what this is yet so I can't verify -- I mean, it has been verified to me in the Senate. But I just -- I don't want to tell you I think I know what's happening here yet because these people play so many games." Beck has also claimed that commerce disputes between states mean "you are heading for civil war" and has suggested that President Obama is pushing the country "into an area where civil war" is possible.
Beck: We have "never fought anything like the perfect storm that is coming to shore."On his August 12 radio show, Beck proceeded to tell his audience "what we're facing," citing the gloomy economic situation as an indication that "the worst" is not behind us. He then stated: "I don't want to tell you these things. I don't want to be the bearer of bad news," adding, "We are on the precipice of really now starting to understand how bad it is." He concluded: "Your economic picture is not good. Do you remember, if you've been a longtime listener of this program, I told you five years ago: perfect storm. And when it comes on shore -- we've never fought anything like it. We fought the Civil War, everything else -- we've never fought anything like the perfect storm that is coming to shore. I told you two years ago, the tip of it is now starting to enter our airspace. It's here and it is about to rock our world."
Beck explains how to survive what's "coming"
Beck: "Get to church." On his May 19 radio show, Beck pleaded with Americans to listen to him "carefully," and said: "Get to church. Get to church. Listen to your - listen to your inner voice. Please listen to your inner voice. Follow the Ten Commandments." He went on to say: "Prepare yourself and your family for tough times, and if you have the money or the ability, prepare your neighbors, your friends. Put extra food storage, extra things because others are going to need to get into a lifeboat. But prepare yourself."
Beck: "Do not prepare for just you, prepare for your neighbor as well." On his June 4 radio show, Beck told his listeners to prepare themselves because "cataclysmic change is coming," which "they're not telling you to do." He continued: "If I'm wrong, that's fine. If you're listening right now in your truck and you're like, 'Oh geez, this guy just won't shut up about' -- that's fine. Just don't come to your neighbor when all hell hits the fan and say, 'Hey, you gotta give me some of the food. You gotta help' -- no. Where were you?" Beck went on to say, "That's why I have asked you, on the air before, do not prepare for just you, prepare for your neighbor as well."
Beck: Make sure soldiers and cops know "who you are" and "that you are a law abiding citizen." During the May 19 broadcast of his radio show, Beck said, "Reach out to every service member. Reach out to every cop you know. Make sure they are very well aware of who you are. Make sure they understand that you are a law abiding citizen, you support the police officers." Beck added, "We are being pitted against each other, and I warn you: we have nothing but God on our side."
Beck: "If you're going to buy land, buy land with water rights." On his September 23 Fox News show, Beck seized on a government report describing factors that could shape the world in 2025 and said that, 15 years from now, there will be "unprecedented economic growth coupled with 1.5 billion more people" in the world. He then warned that "That will put pressure on resources, particularly energy and food and water, raising the specter of scarcity emerging as demand outstrips supply." He continued: "May I give you some advice if you're going to buy land? Buy land with water rights. Water. Mark my words. Tell your children. Water will be the next oil." [Accessed via Nexis]
Beck: "Buy a short-wave radio." On his June 18 radio show, Beck warned that the federal government could "shut down" Fox News, talk radio, and the Internet and claimed that "once they have control of your way to get the truth, there is no turning back." He then recommended two things to his listeners: "calling Washington and your senators" to tell them to "leave the Internet and man's right to free speech alone," or "buy[ing] a short-wave radio." He concluded: "You might want to do both."
Beck: "Please pray"; "get down on your knees." On his September 1, 2009, radio program, Beck told his listeners that "the best thing" they could do for the country would be to "please pray." He said God will protect the country if "we put ourselves back into the rightful place." Beck later stated: "That's what we're fighting against -- a perversion of this system. It's much worse than a collapse. It would almost make you hope for a collapse, if that indeed were true. I don't know what is true anymore. But get down on your knees, because you'll find it."
Beck: Look into "food insurance." On his September 24 radio show, Beck relayed a story about how "it's only a matter of time" before "hyperinflation is gonna happen," and "the treasuries ... start to tank" while "commodities go through the roof." Beck then asked: "Well, are you gonna be somebody who freaks out, or are you gonna be a leader?" He went on to promotefoodinsurance.com, which, he promised, "is a one-time, cost-effective solution for emergency food preparation" that he said could be used "in case something catastrophic happens." He later added: "Please check this out. It is really, really good food, lasts for 20 years. ... I have a year's worth. You should have a year's worth. Everyone should have a year's worth." He concluded by asking, "If we were all prepared, can you imagine the pressure that would come off of our country? Can you imagine the pressure that would come off of you?"
Beck: Catch up on your "homework" for the "whole end of time thing." Discussing how he wouldn't have cared about current events -- including what was going on in the Middle East -- before the 9-11 attacks, Beck said, "I wouldn't have known anything that was going on in the Middle East, nor did I care. Then, 9-11 happened, and we had to care. I went and I did my homework. ... If I was going to be a responsible adult and parent, I had to understand it." Beck then asked: "If you haven't done your homework yet, what is it going to take?" He followed with this advice: "I urge you to catch up on it and catch up on it fast. It's kind of important for a couple of reasons: one, the whole end of time thing and the tiny dependency on foreign oil detail." He concluded: "This is your country; you have to understand it. You lead the way. What is coming our way is not good."
Beck guest: "Grow your own food," "take up arms." On his February 11 Fox News show, Beck hosted investment analyst Damon Vickers, who offered advice on what the average person should do to prepare for "anarchy" in the coming "debt implosion." Vickers said that "individuals and families have to have the foresight -- that situational awareness -- to perhaps consider, you know, maybe, maybe having a farm, maybe growing your own food, maybe you need to take up arms if you haven't and learn to protect your family. The period that's emerging in front of us could be very, very scary." Beck interjected: "He's spookier than I am."
Beck: Buy gold to guard against "economic terror." Beck has warned about inflation, hyper-inflation, deflation, and economic crisis to promote gold. Beck has said "inflation is going to happen; you're gonna have deflation and then, most likely, hyper-inflation after that," that "what's happening in Europe is coming our way," and that "there's some economic terrorcoming our way." He has claimed that "Goldline is the escape" from the coming economic collapse and has pleaded that "now may be the perfect time to buy gold." Beck has compared gold to a "doorframe," which is the "safest place" in an earthquake, and has declared: "If you put your faith in man, God bless you. I can't wait to see the solution. But if you don't, I ask that you would consider -- it's not right for everybody and I don't buy it as an investment, although it has been the best investment I have purchased -- I ask you to look at gold as a relief valve."
Beck: Get a "screenshot" of things on the Internet because "stuff is being scrubbed overnight." On his May 13 radio show, Beck put out a call for "500,000 researchers" to "look into a few things" for him because "audio is being scrubbed off the Internet." He cautioned: "Do not email the link to me. ... You must pull it off of the Internet and save it to a DVD. You must pull these things off. Get a screenshot of things and pull any video off. Do not allow it to be housed on the Internet because it will be gone." He concluded: "Stuff is being scrubbed overnight. There's changes happening. Something has changed."
Beck advertiser offers "survival seeds" as defense against "emerging totalitarianism."On March 8, a company called Survival Seed Bank advertised on Beck's Fox News broadcast, warning that, "in an economic meltdown, nonhybrid seeds could become more valuable than even silver and gold." During the ad, a spokesman touted "the survival seed bank, the perfect mix of germination-tested, nonhybrid seeds" for "a full acre crisis garden that can produce an endless supply of nutrient-dense food for your and your family." The company's website also claims that "survival seeds" could guard against "emerging totalitarianism."
Beck to veterans: "Come out of retirement" to fight "the same damn hippies" who "have our country by the throat." On his June 21 radio show, Beck talked directly to veterans, telling them that "your mission is not complete." He went on to say that "[o]ur country needs patriots" for the "new battle that is raging in America," and that "[w]e need you now more than ever" to "teach the Constitution," "honor," and "the history of this country." He added: "Come out of retirement. We need you more than ever. I know, you've already done your service. You most likely were fighting in Vietnam, or you were fighting and standing up against the hippies in Vietnam. Well, they got our country by the throat right now. The same people that tried to destroy us in the 1960s are back at it again. And you pulled our butt out of the fire last time, and I'm sorry to do this to you, but it is your generation that is screwing it up -- not you -- but the same damn hippies that you have been fighting against your whole life."
Beck: "All aboard God's train. Buckle up, because trouble is coming." On his August 30 Fox News show, Beck advised his viewers that "it's about the truth" and imparted the following "message": "Listen carefully. I believe we're approaching a last call: All aboard God's train. Buckle up, because trouble is coming. Get behind the shield of God. That is the message." Beck also stated: "I think what God is telling us is get behind him -- I think that's what he's saying. Use him as a shield."
This recession has opened the door for a persuasive opportunist and gifted con-man to feed on people's uncertainty about the economy and thereby move markets, specifically the price of Glenn Beck's gold.
Before more people start swallowing Beck's paranoia,
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1) The Backlash: Right-wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, Will Bunch, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2010, p. 242