master of disaster(ous statements)
Beck's claim about Japan's earth quake was picked up by AOL news, Time Magazine and of course, the liberal media watchdogs, Media Matters for America. The latter wrote:
Following a lengthy discussion involving the Japanese earthquake, bond markets, unrest in Libya, and a man who was killed trying to photograph the tsunami in California, Glenn Beck lamented that we "can't see the connections here."Beck said that he's "not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes," then clarified that he is "not not saying that, either," then added: "Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there's a message being sent and that is, 'hey, you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well.' Maybe we should stop doing some of it."Earlier in the discussion, Beck said, "I'm not saying that Jesus is coming, I'm just saying things are changing. The world, I mean literally, the world is moving under your feet. I mean, could there be a bigger sign than -- oh, by the way, I mean, in casual conversation somebody said, 'did you hear the earth moved off its axis?' No."
BECK: We can't see the connections here. Now look, I'm not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well -- I'm not saying that he -- I'm not not saying that either.God -- what God does is God's business, I have no idea. But I'll tell you this: whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus -- there's a message being sent. And that is, 'Hey, you know that stuff we're doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.' I'm just sayin'. And -- yesterday I got home and I was thinking about all the messages that I could bring in, all the things that I could tell ya, and oh I've got stuff on Hezbollah. Oh, I have stuff on radical Islam in America that'll make your eyes fall out. Or I could just tell you the answer, and the answer is: Buckle up. Buckle up, 'cause it's going to be a bumpy ride.Make sure you keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Because, things are gonna get bumpy and, just a few reminders there at the beginning as this rollercoaster takes off, always a good safety tip: Keep your arms and legs in. Don't do anything stupid, what do you say we follow the big top ten. You can call them Moses' ten commandments, or ten rules of thumb. What do you say we start doing those things? Because the things we are doing really suck and they're not getting better.
Beck's comment is the latest in a long line of religious zealots pointing to various natural disasters as evidence of God's displeasure with humanity.Though he denies that he thinks the Biblical Apocalypse is imminent, Beck has regularly featured and promoted guests who focus on end times eschatology. Last month he hosted author Joel Richardson, a self-proclaimed prophet who thinks Islam will be the "primary vehicle" "used by Satan to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible." For his part, in a column at WorldNetDaily, Richardson has pointed to recent earthquake activity as "pointing to the soon coming of the return of Jesus."His comments put him in the same league with people like Pat Robertson, who claimed in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti last year that Haiti "swore a pact to the devil" and has "been cursed" ever since.In 2005, Robertson and other religious conservatives claimed Katrina was God's punishment for America's alleged sins.In comments on Robertson's show in 2001, Rev. Jerry Falwell suggested that gays, lesbians, feminists, and others bore responsibility for the 9-11 terrorist attacks (he later apologized):FALWELL: I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happenIt's not clear which "stuff" Beck is referring to that "we" are doing that is supposedly making "God" upset -- nor is it clear why Beck thinks God (or "Jesus" or "Gaia") chose to devastate Japan as a result of this.
Time Magazine author Alex Altman surmises that if "Fox is pondering life beyond Beck, this could be the nudge they needed." However, it seems doubtful that Fox manager Roger Ailes or Fox owner Rupert Murdoch really care much about what Beck claims on his radio show.
On his show the same day, Beck claimed that this disaster is being used by Soros funded leftist groups to oppose nuclear power, but he failed to mention that President Obama still supports it. He listed the alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear power as hydro-power, solar power and "cow farts." He neglected geo-thermal power and hydrogen power because Beck chooses, as always, to distort or smear opposition, in this case to nuclear power.
Beck went on to claim that the media is being "distracted" by this disaster in Japan, and that the real disaster that the United States is facing is the collapsing dollar and collapsing value of treasury bonds. One of his followers was watching this and happened to know a little about this subject. On a conservative media watchdog, NewsBusters post about Beck's website, The Blaze, he (comment name Kingfish 17) made a comment that exemplifies cognitive dissonance, the "mental acrobatics people engage in when they're confronted with two or more 'dissonant' thoughts."(1)
Kingfish likes Beck's message, but he can't help but notice that Beck distorts reality to "fit Beck's template," or what critics call his false narrative. This happened to Lisa Houserman, a former Beck supporter and libertarian who went on to become a fierce critic of Mr. Beck. Now Beck has angered Japanese Americans and one more supporter is grappling with how Beck plays loose and fast with the facts. Even Beck seems to be alluding to the possibility that he and Fox may part ways sometime. Tomorrow would not be soon enough.
Kingfish 17: I listen to Beck on the radio almost every day, and catch his television show two or three times a week. At times I wonder if he is just ignorant about things economic, or if he takes things out of context, on purpose, to push his agenda.Today, on his television show, he is talked about the recent tsunami in Japan, and how the press is focusing on the potential disaster regarding the damaged nuclear power plants. Beck is correctly pointing out that our press is basically ignoring the potential disaster associated with a potential "melt down" of the United States bond market I think he's drawing a good analogy. Our bond market and the amount of Treasury debt we are ringing up is a huge potential problem that our press does not give enough attention to.But Beck lost me when he sited Bill Gross of Pimcos elimination of U.S. Treasury Debt from Pimpco's Total Return Fund. Beck implied that Gross's move was based on a perception that U.S. Treasuries were now a risky investment. Gross's move is actually based on the yield of Treasuries being too low. Gross said that he would be a buyer of Treasuries again if yields rose. It's a market timing thing, and a not a concern on Gross's part that Treasuries will default.But that doesn't fit Becks template. It bothers me when Beck does this sort of thing. If he does this with Gross and Pimco and U.S. Treasuries, (a market I understand and am able to catch Beck in this distortion), what sort of misinformation is Beck peddling with regards to subjects that I don't have any expertise in and can't catch Beck in his distortions.I still like Beck. I still like his message. But every time he pulls something like this, I get a little more disappointed in the way he is trying to deliver that message. Beck doesn't need to do things like this in order to get his message across. [Emphasis added]
Update, 3/16/2011: Beck began his show on the 14th by describing a "charitable moment." Did he send a small fortune to Japan? No. Did he realize that he needed to use his platforms to reach millions to help raise funds for the disaster in Japan? No. What was the "charitable moment" described by Mr. "Faith, Hope and Charity?" He has read the NY Times. Apparently Mr. Beck has difficulties with the concept of charity.
For a summary about Glenn Beck, see "Becoming Paul Revere"
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1) True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, Farhad Manjoo, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2008, p. 29.