Friday, December 31, 2010

A year of Beck in review


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One year ago this blogger had no need for a weblog. What is so important to publicly keep track of? The answer was "nothing" until one day, while channel surfing, I stumbled across Glenn Beck again, only this time he was truly unleashed (and some would argue unhinged) from having any of the constraints of working on an actual news network like he did at CNN. There I witnessed a nationalistic, arrogant and a rude interviewer, unlike anything I'd ever seen before. My response to Beck's shocking interview with a U.N. ambassador on CNN in 2008 was to write to them and proclaim that "if I wanted to watch the likes of Glenn Beck, I'd be watching Fox News." That worked out well.

Glenn Beck: Convincing Liar

motivated criticism with obvious lies

This year, finding Glenn Beck on Fox was a transforming experience. At first my response was yelling at the television: "That's a lie!" He was obviously (to me) telling lies that were components of a deceitful narrative conveyed as compelling entertainment. I kept watching; I kept yelling. This was in early April, and my wife finally had enough and yelled at me: "Stop yelling at the television and do something about it." What could I do? All I had was my education, a new computer and the Internet. Turns out, that is all I needed. The research to fact-check Mr. Beck is so easy a Neanderthal could do it. Well, that's an exaggeration, but Google and the Internet has put a world of information at our finger tips. Anyone can fact check anyone, so one question that would need to be answered is, "Why aren't more people doing this?" Indeed, Beck himself tells his viewers to check his facts, so why don't they discover what I knew before touching a keyboard? Glenn Beck lies a lot!

I naively figured that all I had to do was to prove to people who support Beck that he is lying, and he'd start losing followers, slowly at first but faster when more people came to understand how routine Beck's deceptions are. To aid with the dissemination of my fact-finding, I came up with the idea of sharing this URL (sharethisurlaboutglennbeck.com) about Glenn Beck. I couldn't get this information in the hands of millions of people by myself; but with the help of other people who, like myself, could understand that Beck is routinely misleading his viewers with false claims, the word would get out and spread across the Internet. It seemed like a straight forward strategy at the time.

That Beck deceives his viewers is  incontrovertible. The single largest category of posts listed in the Contents of The Glenn Beck Review is entitled "Beck's false claims." Even though Beck has claimed that he would be fired from Fox if he made baseless claims, he has told at least 15 whoppers this year that have not gotten him dismissed by his employer. That claim was just another lie. Evidence and analysis indicates that Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox, will not fire Beck for any transgression against the truth. I have previously (and again here) challenged any supporter of Glenn Beck to find where I have something, some claim of deceit on Beck's part, wrong. If I have something wrong, I will make the correction.

I have for the most part stopped tracking his many lies. How often does one have to lie before one earns the reputation as a liar? Of the books read this year to research this man, Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America by Dana Milbank, clearly exhibits how often Beck deceives his viewers and what kinds of lies he tells. I knew starting this Review that Beck was a liar; I didn't know that his deceptions were part of Beck's effort to create an alternative understanding of reality, a different world view that was alien to the one I grew up with. When a critic of Mr. Beck claims that Beck says things that are "completely insane," that is what he's referring to, i.e., Beck's alternative, fictional reality he creates on his various media outlets. One of the biggest challenges now is not understanding the world according to Glenn Beck; that's easy enough. The challenge that I have to yet to fully come to grips with is why in the world anyone would share Beck's fictional world view. Another challenge is to determine if Beck's lies are the result of him purposely misinforming his audience knowing full well the truth or whether he is ignorant of the facts and chose to assert a counter-factual argument anyway. Sometimes that is easy to tell; sometimes not so much. He claims below that "I never said anything I didn't believe." Either that is another lie, or Beck is clinically insane.


Glenn Beck: Unprincipled Hypocrite

Three other conclusions developed as I continued to watch the Glenn Beck show on Fox, take notes, come upstairs to the office and do research. First and foremost among these are that Glenn Beck is a hypocrite. It's less obvious than his lies, but it becomes very clear that he is ever so willing to go against his own stated principles if he thinks it sounds like the right thing to say in a given moment. One only has to listen to Glenn Beck in a way that his loyal followers do not: critically. In his essay, "Glenn Beck and the Left-Right Confusion," published this year in At the Tea Party, renown progressive blogger, Glenn Greenwald, argues that Beck "has no core political principles or fixed, identifiable ideology."(1) Although the following is not an exhaustive list of principles Beck has proven his willingness to violate with his own words, it does render the following statement to be factual: Glenn Beck is a hypocrite about:

In his unauthorized biography, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, Alex Zaitchik points out that "Beck is not much of a debater and never invites smart and informed liberals onto his shows. Although he published a book called Arguing with Idiots, he is terrified of actually talking to those 'idiots' on the air." That is not just another hypocrisy; Beck cannot defend his ideas and claims! Readers familiar with this Review will recognize Zaitchik as the author of several articles reprinted here with permission of the author. One of the reasons this Review publishes other writer's articles about Mr. Beck is to demonstrate that Beck is opposed for many reasons by many people. Without question though, Zaitchik is the leading expert on Beck; and his book is highly recommended. Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times called the book "Horrifying...Chillingly informative." If someone wants to learn as much as possible about Beck without paying money, this Review offers extensive, documented information and analysis. However, anyone willing to spend the money should acquire this book that Beck has deemed, "Despicable, yellow journalism."

Glenn Beck: Yellow Propagandist



The next conclusion that I came to this year regarding Mr. Beck concerns how he discusses progressives. It's not that Beck is informative about the flaws of progressives past and present (sometimes he's right); Beck's assault on President Obama and progressivism is undisguised propaganda, "information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc." He doesn't dislike progressive era President Wilson; "Christian" Beck "hates Wilson." He has also proven loose with the facts about progressives in the past and present. He called progressism for American "a cancer...and it's eating our Constitution -- and it was meant to eat our Constitution." Beck is not just a propagandist, he's an habitual liar who needs to be cautioned about. Beck admits that he's not a journalist. Can't criticize him about that, but he does engage in a yellow style (inflammatory and irresponsible) of propaganda. This Review is a kind of warning, a yellow flag of caution: Beck is a yellow propagandist who has inspired one unstable individual, Byron Williams, to allegedly go on a planned, but unsuccessful killing spree to attack progressives in the Tides Foundation, a funding source for progressive groups working for social change. Beck was also part of the inspiration behind alleged cop killer, Richard "Pop" Poplaski. This relationship is detailed in The Backlash: Right-wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama by Will Bunch. The central character in this backlash, according to Bunch, is Glenn Beck who started a 9-12 project. Ironically, Poplaski's birthday is 9-12-1986.(2)

Glenn Beck: America's Charlatan


It took a while to notice this, but when Glenn Beck claimed that the Constitution was held up by "faith," "hope" and "charity," it struck me like a speeding train: this guy has no idea what he's talking about. With a basic, high school level understanding of civics, everyone should know that the Constitution is upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. Initially, when I asserted that Beck is a charlatan, I meant that he comes across like he knows what he's talking about, but a quick background check showed that he only took one college course, and that was on the history of religion. He's an ignorant, reactionary blowhard,(3) not a deep "thinker" as he claims and certainly not a pundit in any meaningful sense of the word.

The more I studied Glenn Beck's background and discussed him with other critics, the more I came to realize that his whole persona, his whole act, from radio to stage to books to his Fox Propaganda Channel stage, is one big show. Because he says some things that are "completely insane," things that no one sane would actually come out and say, because he's not qualified to be on what claims to be a news network,  I have come to the conclusion that Beck is primarily about getting rich entertaining millions of people gullible enough to buy into his show. This perspective is shared by both Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein who calls Beck a "telecharlatan...with a phony, professional air" and his biographer, Alex Zaitchik.

Glenn Beck: Lonesome Rhodes Meets Elmer Gantry

Pope Glenn Beck

This year Beck continued his turn away from strict, political commentary toward becoming a "freaking televangelist."(3) It was clear in the religious tone of his "Restoring Honor" rally (Honor?!? What honor?) on the Washington Mall on 8/28 and in his continued push to have his followers pray, become more religious, attend church and spout spiritual Truths. On one level, it is safe for Beck to speak of God. Who can argue about God's plan as delivered to Glenn Beck? Who is going to take issue with his claim that the geese flying over his rally site just before it began was "a miracle?"  If God gives Beck a "plan," and Beck claimed this year that he did (audio below), who is going to argue with God? That is what Beck would have his followers believe, but preachers and hucksters have been making similar claims for hundreds of years. Listen to Beck's psychologically persuasive, classic televangelism, in this "epic clip" from April of this year.


"I never said anything I didn't believe." If that's true, then Beck really is too ignorant to be a commentator on the Cartoon Network, much less a corrupt "news" channel. And that really is one of the primary points of this Review? Fox delivers ideological propaganda without much regard for the truth. Glenn Beck, if nothing else, is exhibit A, the essential cornerstone, of that truth.

Of course, on another level, this is what many of his religious followers want from him; and that works both ways. As Bob Cesca has written, " The only path to salvation, televangelists and faith healers say, is to give. Give money. Give prayers. To them. In Beck's case, he's added the political layer to the equation which, if ultimately successful, will financially benefit Beck and his peers in the wealthiest one percent." Beck certainly knows how to multiply his fortunes by increasing his flock. "Help me get this plan out." You can be sure that many people received one of Beck's books this Christmas, most likely his plan for America, Broke.

Previewing Forward

Product Details
no irony intended

Beck likes to tout his primary political influence, The 5,000 Year Leap by far-right Mormon Cleon Skousen; and he charges that his critics do not address the contents of that book, only the author. That is because Skousen was an authoritarian racist, and that automatically discredits his ideas for many including me. Besides, it is more fitting to address the ideas of Glenn Beck directly, expressed on the air, on his website, his newsletter and in his books. To that end, I recently bit the bullet and purchased multi-millionaire, Glenn Beck's most recent publication, Broke: The Plan to Restore our Trust, Truth and Treasure. Apparently this is the plan that "the Lord" gave to Beck. ("Glenn, sell more books!" It worked!) In the coming months, a chapter by chapter analysis of Broke will be embarked upon and published, when completed, on the Review as several posts.

Additionally work will continue on the still unpublished re-working of the Overton Window, a political theory of change. To be entitled "Smashing Overton's Window," it will work to establish a differentiation between freedom, an individual's bundle of rights, and privileges that are accorded to both individuals and corporations that are not persons, artificial or otherwise, and therefore have no rights, no freedoms offered by the U.S. Constitution. You won't hear Glenn Beck, America's loudest corporate shill, make that argument in 2011. If he proves me wrong, that would be news worth covering.

Glenn Beck: in "Conclusion"

There are many matters that were not covered in this year-end review of Glenn Beck. The corruption of Fox News, the purpose of Beck to Fox News owner, Rupert Murdoch, Beck's guests who have been caught lying on his show, Beck's race-baiting anti-racism and other paradoxes that describe him, and Beck's good points. That's correct; Beck has positive qualities. He tells Nazis to find another show to watch. He has called the birther idea (that Obama was born in Kenya) "dumb." His story is one of recovery from addiction and redemption. Sometimes his criticisms of the President or his Administration are spot on. He wants his followers to live better lives and be honest, even if he routinely and hypocritically lies himself. The problem is, without doing fact-checking, it is impossible to tell when Beck is accurate and when he is just spouting absurd nonsense as he is prone to do. The contents section of this Review has much more information that there wasn't time to cover in this year-end review.

Despite Beck's good points, the overall picture of Glenn Beck is one of a habitual liar, an unprincipled hypocrite and an utter fake due to his ignorance, lack of education or background in political science/theory and his infamous performances. He is a gifted and convincing propagandist and brilliant performance artist. His followers turn blind eyes toward these serious moral and educational shortcomings, or more likely, their biased (anti-government) assimilation of his claims does not allow them to understand that Glenn Beck is one of the last, if not the last person in America morally positioned or qualified to restore honor in this land. When presented with the facts covered in this year-end review, they generally dig in their heels deeper in a reaction known as backfire. The people who are open to the facts about Beck's lies and hypocrisy are those who Beck works almost continuously to reach using his loyal followers to recruit more viewers (higher ratings) and followers (who will purchase his books). This is ingenious self-promotion on Beck's part because he disguises this effort as trying to build a movement. If Beck has his way, he will move this country back toward the 19th Century on the legs of lies and sheer hypocrisy and on the backs of workers experiencing downward mobility...while laughing "all the way to the bank."

Although generally opposed to reactionaries, this Review is not primarily political. The Glenn Beck Review serves as a warning, a cautionary e-pamphlet, a public service to fellow Americans. Readers, who want to get involved with a movement for small government, would be better served by following an honest and consistently principled reactionary (libertarian) like Congressman Ron Paul. The ambitious Glenn Beck is a dishonest hypocrite using his popularity to gain more fame and greater fortune, just as he's been planning since he first auditioned for a contest to become a DJ as a teenager. The job he holds as "commentator" is just another form of corruption. With his horrific lies that would get a program host fired on any other network besides Rupert Murdoch's Fox Propaganda Channel, Glenn Beck's millions of followers are living proof that President Lincoln was insightful when he asserted that "You can fool some of the people all of the time." Sadly, 150 years of public education has not changed that sad reality.
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1) At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Witey-Whiteness of the New Republican Right...and Why We Should Take it Seriously, Laura Flanders (ed), OR Books, New York, 2010, p. 242.
2) The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, Will Bunch, Harper Collins, New York, 2010, p. 276.
3) True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, Farhad Manjoo, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2008, p. 146.
4) Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America, Dana Milbank, Doubleday, New York, 2010, p. 21.

11 comments:

Cynthia Schmitt said...

Nice to see the idiot summed up so well.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Cythia,

In all fairness, I don't think he's an idiot. It's one of the paradoxes that I have yet to post about. Beck is an ignorant genius. That I think I covered here without using that exact phrase.

Thanks.

Jason said...

Any word on that analysis of "Broke"? I'd be interested in reading some fact-checking done on that.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

It's going slowly. I'm finished reviewing only 6 chapters so far. I need to ignore Beck's rhetoric and just focus on that task.

The review will show up here as 21 rapidly published posts in late Feb. or early March.

chats said...

Yo Jason, why don't you trying reading the book?

chats said...

Funny you announce: "Free speech is practiced here" and then when you post a comment, it has to be approved first. HA!

antnyajp said...

you wrote a seven paragraph review on the dishonesty of glen beck. yet you showed no proof where he has stretched the truth or outright lied.show me the proof.considering he is on the air at least four hours a day,five days a week you should have a multitude of the lies that mr beck has told his followers.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Chats, I did not create the software that runs this blog. If I did, I would still want to release all comments on my schedule; so I can reply when appropriate. I wrote that all non-spam comments are approved, so your "criticism" is disingenuous at best.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Antnyajp, click on the hot links. See, for example, http://mediamatters.org/research/201012300001 to read about 15 whoppers I mention. Frankly, if you can't hear Beck's lies when you watch his show, you are not well informed to start with. Try turning Fox off and watch a real news, not propaganda, channel.

roryanne said...

You missed all of these things in your year in review of Glenn Beck:

http://www.examiner.com/glenn-beck-in-national/barbara-malone

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Roryanne;

I've seen Barb Malone's writings on The Examiner. She's a reactionary sycophant. For example she's writing about Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) and ignoring that Beck said that Planned Parenthood is for hookers to have 400 abortions.

In that same piece, she wrote, "And that all taxpayers should continue to fund abortions. Many American, Glenn Beck included, disagree."

She is misinformed. No tax payer money funds abortions at Planned Parenthood, so I don't think I missed anything by not including her reactionary and ignorant support for Mr. Beck in this year in review.

Beck has his supporters; that is clear. Some people are fooled all of the time. They are fools, and a lot of them are followers of Glenn Beck.