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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1 comment:

Chris said...

There was a time when I thought most in this country were going blind and/or turning a deaf ear to the political shifts in this country. Fortunately, I found this blog, and discovered there are people out there who are as disgusted with the propaganda as I. Beck was just a loudmouth, who could talk tough, but didn't have enough courage to actually face anyone in a debate, ( something about the lies of a propagandist are strongest in the safety of the shadows, but dissappear in the open sunlight, sounds fitting for his elementary mentality.) I think Beck's biggest accomplishment was re-enforcing the righteous us vs. evil them mentality to his fanbase. I mean, is it really a suprise that the two dominant parties came to such a standstill in August when the political rhetoric on the radio is being driven by fanatics like Beck? Which I honestly believe is what both Democrats and Republicans want, as it keeps them at the top, and helps keep their supporters perpetually galvanized against eachother, and ultimately keeps the status quo.

Anyways Victor, I just want to say thank you, thank you for your time and effort that you have put into this blog, and maintaining a common sense approach that relies on facts instead of resorting to biased out of context opinions to support your claims.