Sunday, November 13, 2011

Glenn Beck: for entertainment purposes only?

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This is a summary of criticisms of Glenn Edward Lee Beck that have accumulated here over the last 19 months. It will attempt to summarize the ideas of the preceding 360 blog posts, but will not and cannot be totally inclusive of everything about makes Beck the hero he is to his followers and the villain he is to his critics. This Review is comprised of both original, critical content as well as many articles expressing criticism of Mr. Beck reprinted with permission of the authors. This blog attempts to incorporate a range of critical perspectives on Mr. Beck. This particular post will take the form of a series of headline questions that will then be answered. The questions will address Beck's honesty, his supposed principles, his sincerity, his method of communication and his supporters.

Why critical analysis?

Glenn Beck is a supremely gifted and talented individual. His personal story, antics and foibles make him appealing to those in his audience, who want to believe what he says, and more to the point, Beck is extremely convincing. Using quotations taken out of context, video editing, far-right spinning of facts, innuendo, smears, deceptions and anti-intellectualism along with many elements of propaganda, Beck is believed by millions of people and has a passionate following of people who would very possibly kill if Glenn Beck decided to give the order to start a war with his political opponents (progressives). As it is, there have been three, thwarted assassination attempts by followers of this convincing media star. If someone like this does not warrant critical thinking and analysis, then there is no one in the media who does.

Is Glenn Beck honest?

The point of Glenn Beck's efforts is not to convey accurate information; it is to push Overton's Window to the right, to encourage people push back against the political forces that have sought and still seek to curb the interests of the "private" corporations over the interests of We the People, of the 99%, i.e., the public interests. To that end, there is no lie that Beck will not tell to make the Tea Party, the proponents of small, ineffective government, look wonderful and those who would challenge the corporate power look terrible. Although no longer on Fox, he is still on the radio and the Internet (GBTV, which, of course, is NOT television) distorting reality. Just yesterday Beck made two shootings near and inside the Occupy efforts seem like the Occupiers had something to do with the violence even though it was clear that one was a suicide and one was an unrelated murder.

It has been stressed here repeatedly that Beck was not even honest about the slogan that he bought to describe his far-right "news" site, The Blaze. He once claimed that he wrote "The truth has no agenda," but that was exposed as a lie by the conservative website, The Daily Caller:

In February of this year, Beck announced on the radio that he had created a new motto for his website, The Blaze. “This is the slogan that I wrote for The Blaze,” Beck said. “We’ve put it up everywhere here and we’ve written it out for The Blaze. And it is: ‘The truth has no agenda.’”

But in fact, this was not the truth. Beck did not write any such slogan for The Blaze. According to website domain name registration records, a man named Michael Opelka bought the domain “” in July 2009. Beck has since hired Opelka to work for The Blaze. Shortly thereafter, Beck began selling “The Truth Has No Agenda” merchandise.
If Beck cannot tell the truth about a slogan regarding the truth, how the heck can anyone believe anything that he says? It is critically important to distinguish between someone telling a purposeful lie and conveying misinformation out of ignorance of the facts. This is, no doubt, why the progressive media watchdogs, Media Matters for America, conveys false claims made by Beck rather than lies. It is difficult to know what someone actually knows or what someone makes up out of ignorance. In the case of Glenn Beck, who could not hack the mental rigors of Yale University, ignorance of the facts coupled with his reactionary understanding of reality, leads him to routinely misinform his listeners. That is why his critic, Alex Zaitchik, entitled his book about Beck Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance. If the information about Beck conveyed either here on this Review or on The Glenn Beck Report is not enough information to get a sufficient understanding of Beck, then Common Nonsense is the best offline choice for hands on reading.
While some people can see Beck's dishonesty in his body language, it's become clear over the years that Beck plays loose and fast with the facts. For many years he lied about his own mother's death and only recently admitted that he does not in fact know how she died. Beck could not resist telling a whopper he knew to be false even during his speech on the Washington Mall during his Restoring "Honor" rally in 2010.

This is not to argue that everything that comes out of Beck's mouth is false. Like a broken clock is correct twice a day, so too is Beck correct on occasion. He once conveyed outrage over the un-Constitutionality of having the Obama Administration target an American citizen for execution off the battle field for suspicion of being involved with al-Qaeda. He was correct in that stand, but Beck seems to have forgotten that concern in the days following the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki. Beck claims that he is a "principles and values guy," but that only seems to apply either when he thinks his audience is receptive to said principles or when he actually remembers that he has a principle that applies to a given subject.

Is Glenn Beck really a hypocrite?

This Review has documented two dozen examples of Beck expressing a principled position about something or someone, and then turning around and saying something this is just the opposite. That was about two times/month while Beck was under close scrutiny by this blogger. Sometimes Beck expresses outrage about someone doing something that he routinely does. The list of examples of his hypocrisies -- along with every other post in this Review -- is available as links to the posts describing them in the contents of this site.

To be fair, it is possible that Beck means to have principles that he simply forgets about. He is an alcoholic, and who knows how much damage that did to his brain? Beck also suffers from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is possible that he comes across like a hypocrite when he is in fact a former drug addict and mentally disabled individual. Were in not for his enormous talent, this deficiency could well undermine his desire and dream to become famous in talk radio.

Is Glenn Beck a charlatan?

It has already been noted that Beck has no college credits, if any. He has done a lot of reading, but only in recent years, before his failing eyesight began to seriously hamper his ability to read. However, Beck has little, if any, ideological self-discipline. He reads what reinforce his far-right values. Like the millions of his radio audience, he believes what he wants to believe. So it was that the far-right crank, racist and Mormon Cleon Skousen changed Beck's life when he read Skousen's The 5,000 Year Leap. To be fair, many liberals reinforce their views by watching Countdown with Keith Olberman and/or MSNBC while ignoring Fox "News" or even CNN. The problem is that Beck's self-education is anything but well-rounded. Thus, he is not a pundit. That was not why he was hired and retained on Fox for 30 months.

Beck seems sincere enough, but he is also an actor. When someone has his facts wrong as often as Beck does, undermines his own "principles" as regularly as he does and shows far more talent as an entertainer than he does as a "pundit," it is certainly worth asking just how sincere he is. It is clear that he is sincere about becoming as wealthy and famous as his prodigious talent will allow him to become. From an interview with Dave Weigel, Zaitchik said:
The one constant in his life has been enormous ambition. His business and brand will never be big or successful enough—hence the new projects never stop coming. But I don’t think Beck’s self-image as a businessman is at odds with his beliefs about religion and politics. He doesn’t know enough about the world to understand why his grand-unified theory of a 100-year progressive plot is a laughingstock outside of his own TV and radio studios. I think he actually believes God wants him to make all this money and fight dirty for right wing causes. Does he really believe God is speaking to and through him? I don’t know. But in one of his books, he describes Heaven as a place where everybody “can make as much money as they want....”
Beck likes to sell himself as an anti-racist, but many of his tactics give lie to that notion. In fact, getting the best answer to the question, "Is Glenn Beck a racist?" may demonstrate as well as anything else the extent to which Beck is a fraud.

Is Beck a Propagandist?

Those readers who have seen Beck while he was on Fox and who are familiar with the elements of propaganda already know the answer to this question. Beck is not just a propagandist, the argument here is that he is a genius of yellow, reactionary propaganda. The only people who would take issue with this answer are those who Beck manipulated to believe otherwise. Beck's manipulation of his followers is one of his most defining traits. What he nor his followers realize is that Beck is taking them down the road to socialism. As a pundit, Beck is an unqualified charlatan. As a reactionary propagandist, he is a brilliant con man. It is for this reason that Beck is not "for entertainment purposes only" and needs to be monitored, even though he is no longer reaching the audience he was at Fox. He still has millions of misinformed Americans listening to his Morning Zoo version of talk radio.

supports the corporate agenda

What About Beck's Ardent Followers?

Like members of any movement, Glenn Beck's followers are somewhat diverse. They are not all stupid people, but they are willing to believe the nonsense that Beck spews. In other words, because they are against the government being involved in the economy, they willingly embrace Beck's propaganda. They are willingly ignorant and convinced (by Beck) that they are correct, that they are in on a secret that exposes the "truth." They are, like Beck, reactionaries, not conservatives.  A large portion of the Tea Party used to watch Beck's show on Fox, and the damage done will take decades to get beyond if not longer.

Some of Beck's followers are racists and malevolent people. He inspires such profound trust and unquestioning support that criticizing Beck is interpreted by his gullible flock as sacrilegious. They do not begin to grasp the extent to which he manipulates them. The blind, ardent, unquestioning support for Mr. Beck and willingness to smear and otherwise attack his critics have made Beck a cult of personality. Beckerheads (the name critics have given his followers) have become an army of "psychotics" willing to push the corporate agenda. That are, in a word, tools, as is Mr. Beck himself. Beck is a tool and a tool maker in this respect. Facts that contradict Beck, that prove that he is deceiving only cause these ideologues to dig their heels in ever so much more deeply. It's virtually impossible to get through their programming.

The End?

Beck is off the television, but he's not gone for good. His absurd antics still get noticed on slow "news" days, and there is good reason to suspect that, given his relatively young age, he might actually run for Congress at some point. Therefore, at least in the district or state in which he runs, if he runs, there would still be reasons to get the word out about Beck, to once again become Paul(ette) Revere, at least in his would-be district or state.

Congressman Beck?

Although this is a summary wrapping this Review up, there have been other summaries written here and elsewhere one could read to get a more thorough understanding of this dynamic and controversial character. The following is a list of such summaries:
This brings to an end this Glenn Beck Review. To all who contributed to it, a genuine expression of thanks goes out, but special appreciation is extended to Alex Zaitchik, Karl Rogers and Roger Fallihee. They have contributed significantly to a comprehensive, critical understand of Glenn Beck, a very strange man. It was a huge relief to hear that his days were numbered on Fox and to have this chapter put behind us...for now.

For another summary about Glenn Beck, see "Becoming Paul Revere"

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Beck Unwittingly Admits Past Lie

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The following piece is republished here with permission of the author, Roger Fallihee who has extensively researched Glenn Beck's past. This was published October 27th under the title "Glenn Beck Reveals Past Lies on 'The Today Show.' "

Glenn Beck Reveals Past Lies on "The Today Show"

Lied about his mother's death

Glenn Beck, the former FOX TV host, appeared on the October 26, 2011 broadcast of NBC's Today Show to plug his new book titled "The Snow Angel."
During the emotional interview with Today host Kathy Lee Gifford, Beck, without realizing it, revealed that he lied about the circumstances of his mother's drowning, in a 2003 interview with the Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette.
The Tacoma Police and the Coast Guard concluded at the time that her death was an accidental drowning.  On hundreds of occasions Beck has repeated his version of the story that Mary Beck was an alcoholic who took her own life when he was 13 years old.(1)
In the Journal Gazette interview reporter Rick Farrant wrote:

But the same year he started in radio, his alcoholic mother, Mary, left a suicide note by the family's crock pot and drowned herself in a bay near Tacoma.

When I contacted Farrant about his source on the suicide note he told me:

“Well, the interview was obviously some time ago, but I am 99.99999 percent sure he told me that information. I don't recall looking up any information regarding those events. Too bad I didn't say "he said." but I think you're safe to say he told me the information.”

“Had I acquired the information by some other means, I would have attributed it to the source, especially since it is so sensitive. Then I would have asked Glenn about it. Another piece of supporting evidence: Glenn told me he read the article and liked it. He did not dispute a single thing in the article.”
This was the first and possibly only time that Beck mentioned the presence of a suicide note. In future interviews, until today, Beck has insisted that Mary Beck’s death was a suicide even though he's only offered vague and convoluted details.
Flash forward to today on Today.
Beck: We never even talked about my mother’s suicide. She died when I was in my teens.

Gifford: She drowned. Was it a suicide?

Beck: I saw a big expose a couple of years ago on this… people actually almost dug my mother up. The jury’s still out. You don’t know—

Gifford: Still a mystery?

Beck: I think we all avoided it because when you live in an alcoholic family or an abusive family you tiptoe and you don’t want to step on any mines.
The jury’s still out? Glenn Beck is now not sure what happened to his mother?
What about the suicide note next to the Crock Pot? A handwritten suicide note is prima facie evidence and it’s also not an insignificant bit of information that would slip Glenn Beck's mind.
Beck didn’t forget to mention the suicide note. He forgot that he lied about the very existence of a suicide note.
After all these years of accusing his devout Catholic mother of committing the ultimate sin of taking her own life, Beck today tacitly admitted that it was maybe all a lie.
Better late than never.

For a summary about Glenn Beck, see "Becoming Paul Revere"

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1)  This is confirmed in a Salon piece by Alex Zaitchik, author of Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Herman Cain is every bit as extremist as Glenn Beck

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Previously on the Review, a thorough analysis of Governor Perry was offered because he embraced Glenn Beck and joined him on his show twice. Another candidate for President, Herman Cain, also visited Beck on his show. Below are two segments from The Last Word where Lawrence O'Donnell analyzes Cain's 9-9-9 proposal.

Listen to O'Donnell dissect Cain's plans. Via MSNBC:

Far more than even Gov. Perry, it's obvious why Herman Cain came onto Beck's show. He was not just pandering to Beck's extremely reactionary audience, as O'Donnell made clear, Cain is every bit as reactionary as Glenn Beck and his gullible followers. That explains why Cain joined Beck on stage at one of his "Restoring Courage" rallies in Israel last summer.

Update, 10/14/2011: O'Donnell followed up with his commentary and analysis of Cain's plan. Via MSNBC:

This will continue to be updated as Lawrence continues to deconstruct and analyze the reactionary, anti-social welfare plan of Herman Cain. For more on how Cain's plan would affect working class people, see "Herman Cain's Plan to Double Your Taxes."

For a summary about Glenn Beck, see "Becoming Paul Revere"
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Beck attacks the Occupy Movement with fear-mongering

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Not surprisingly, Glenn Beck is attacking the Occupy Wall Street movement with crude fear-mongering. Beck makes bizarre claims about the protesters, and his critics fired back.

Occupy Wall Street             The Tea Party

First, listen to Beck via Media Matters for America:

Is it not strange that any credible source would tell Beck about this imminent revolution instead of contacting the FBI? One can only guess what sources Beck considers "credible."

It gets even better, or worse, depending upon one's bias. Beck jacks up the fear-mongering about this movement. Again via Media Matters:

Jason Easley from PoliticusUSA wrote this about Beck's remarks:
Beck’s lies are the sort of fear based rhetoric that the Occupy Wall Street protesters are going to be up against. People like Glenn Beck can’t defend and argue for the support of system that benefits people like himself at the expense of everyone else, so they have to fear monger and claim that there is something dangerous about battling corruption and inequality.

Beck’s logic is that not allowing the super-rich and powerful to exploit our system is bad for America. Much like the GOP’s (Grand Old Party) job creators argument, Beck is claiming that America benefits from the greed and corruption of the bankers and Wall Street. He seems to be saying that when the banks and Wall Street win, America wins, but this isn’t true.
The truth is that when the banks and Wall Street win, the same people that Beck is trying to scare with his radio show lose. Millions aren’t going to die if the banks and Wall Street are properly regulated. The people who are protesting at Occupy Wall Street aren’t trying to destroy America. They are trying to save it. Glenn Beck has a personal financial interest in making sure that the protests fail.
The weeks of protests have revealed that the Occupy Wall Street movement is the exact opposite of what Glenn Beck claimed. These people aren’t violent. They have no desire to inflict violence on anyone. They have been the victims of violence at the hands of some overzealous members of the NYPD, but the goal of Occupy Wall Street is not to cause or inflict violence.
On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Beck made the Worst Person of the day with his absurd fear-mongering about this movement and the protesters. Olbermann accurately summed up Beck with a single word. Via Current TV:
This time Olbermann is spot on: Glenn Beck is an "asshole." If a single, succinct sentence could summarize this entire blog, this 18 months worth of effort, that would be it. This movement, this American Autumn led by no one (so far) but supported by millions may end up increasing Glenn Beck's income tax a few percentage points if it is successful. That is all Beck really needs to fear about this movement because he is one of the 1%.
For a summary about Glenn Beck, see "Becoming Paul Revere"
Before more people start tuning into Beck's reactionary, yellow propaganda
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