Glenn Beck Lies . . . Doesn’t He?

Went and got myself involved in a spirited discussion at Althouse today.  In the mist of the discussion, one of the resident liberals, the quirkily named Alpha Liberal, off-topically asserted that Glenn Beck is “corrupting the political process with his deceit and hyperbole – just to make a buck.”  (This was based on a quote from a Forbes article about Beck, which stated:  

With a deadpan, Beck insists that he is not political: “I could give a flying crap about the political process.” Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. “We’re an entertainment company,” Beck says..

I pointed out, obviously, that I have no problem with making a buck, but if you’re going to claim that he is corrupting with deceit, you need to back it up.  In truth, this was  a challenged I relished; I constantly hear complaints about Beck, but they never appear to be qualified with actual, you know, examples.  I don’t often hear of things he’s gotten truly wrong, and I’d like to know if they are there. 

So, Alpha provided me with a list of links that clearly show that Glenn Beck is a horrible deceiver, and threw in an insult about how I would just stick my fingers in my ears and ignore them, for some reason that I don’t understand, given that he has no experience with me that would support that I would do that.  Here are my reactions to his “evidence.” 

1) The first allegation is that Beck lied when he asserted that President Obama’s science czar John Holdren “has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants int he drinking water to control population.”  The article then goes on to debunk the assertion that Holdren advocated doing these things.  You can read the article to get the whole picture, but here’s a summary:

But with regard to Beck’s claim that Holdren “has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population,” the text of the book clearly does not support that. We think a thorough reading shows that these were ideas presented as approaches that had been discussed. They were not posed as suggestions or proposals. [read the article for the quotes and see for yourself if they are “proposals”- Lyssa] In fact, the authors make clear that they did not support coercive means of population control. Certainly, nowhere in the book do the authors advocate for forced abortions. !

Propose: to offer or suggest (a matter, subject, case, etc.) for consideration, acceptance, or action: to propose a new method. offer (a toast). suggest: He proposed that a messenger be sent. present or nominate (a person) for some position, office, membership, etc. put before oneself as something to be done; design; intend. present to the mind or attention; state. propound (a question, riddle, etc.).

Advocate: to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly

I assume that Glenn Beck knows the difference between these two words. It’s a shame that PolitiFact doesn’t.

2) Polifact gives a good explanation of why Beck’s assertion that less than 10% of Obama’s cabinet members have private sector experience.  They also point out that he apparently relied on subjective research from an otherwise apparently reliable source, so it seems wrong to call this deceitful, rather than simply mistaken.  Regardless, Beck should retract this, assuming that he has not done so already, and not use it again.

3)   Polifact explains here that Andy Stern was, according to visitor logs, the most frequent visitor to the White House for the first several months of the administration, with the possible exception of some people whose names may not have been consistently recorded, such as cabinet members, although a later report showed this was not the case after July, 2009.  I think it’s fair to call this wrong and somewhat misleading for him to rely on the earlier report without qualification.  Deceitful feels hyperbolic, though. 

4) Polifact is very clear here that  Beck was relying on the government’s own language, which they later removed, when he stated that the Cash for Clunkers website would allow the government access to a public user’s computer.   It can’t be considered deceitful to rely on the own statements of the entity about which you are speaking, can it?

5) Here, fully admits that, while Beck says that Obama has more “czars” than any other administration, the term czar is a term supplied by the media.  Based on this, it appears that it would be inherently subjective how many people qualify as “czars” in any given administration.  I can’t accept this as misleading. 

6) We did this one already, see #4.  (Hey, is padding the list deceitful?)

7) I found this last one, purporting to prove wrong Beck’s assertion that Hitler was closer to liberal than conservative, to be wholly unconvincing.  First, clearly, what is and is not liberal/conservative is fraught with subjectivity.  While it is true that Hitler’s reliance on militarism could be considered more “conservative,” I don’t think this is nearly as simple as it seems.  After all, the main reason that liberatarians like Beck and myself are concerned about government having too much power is that government is inherently militaristic.  Just ask Mao (political power comes from the point of a gun), among the other socialistic and communistic leaders whose policies have culminated in millions of deaths at the hands of the government that was supposed to improve the citizens’ lives.  Additionally, Hitler’s economic policies were extremely heavy with government control.  The article also points out that Hitler used religion when it worked for him, but I do not think that this is inherently a liberal or conservative thing to do.  Certainly President Obama has been more than willing to use invoke religious imagery in his speeches, in fact, more so than former President Bush.

The things that Glenn Beck has done that impress me are to point out the histories and character of a number of people involved with the administration, such as Van Jones and Anita Dunn, using their actual words and speeches.  I am also intrigued by his use of history to show us how the modern progressive state has evolved.  He has been remarkably successful at these things, and, while I understand that his style is a bit bizarre, he’s kind of a hoot to watch just on the grounds of uniqueness. 

But, let’s face it, the man is by no means infallible, as is shown by some of these issues (one of which is, apparently, the result of too much trust in the government).  For someone who is on television five hours a week and on the radio for many more hours, this list strikes me as pretty unimpressive.  Only a #2 and #3 could even arguably be called dishonest (and, as I said above, that assumes a level of intent that is no where near supported by the facts presented), and many of the “lies” here are not even really untruths.  To some degree, calling these lies appears more dishonest than the statements themselves. 

I remain unconvinced that the man is deceitfully corrupting the political process.


6 Responses

  1. here it is, beck intentionally misrepresenting something to corrupt the political process. this is blatant. net neutrality=communism? he’s counting on most of his viewership not knowing what the hell net neutrality is. he introduces the phrase, independent of a definition, then immediately associates it with communism so they know for sure that it’s some evil plot. all the while he never tells them what it is and even seems to pretend to not understand it himself.

    • steve, I’m sorry, but I am absolutely not clear on what your complaint is there.

      Yes, he does approach it from the presupposition that the viewer knows what net neutrality is, but that would be, at worst, sloppy or presumptive. And that’s assuming that he didn’t explain what it was earlier in the episode or in another episode, or that he just doesn’t have fairly well educated viewers (I know it hurts liberals to hear this, but conservatives are generally better informed about current events). Considering that this segment just plain wouldn’t make a lick of sense without a basic understanding that this is something the gov’t is considering, I’m not sure how it is “counting on the audience not knowing what it is” in such a way that is misleading.

      And yes, I think it is completely clear why it is associated with communism. If a leader of a group that is trying to get it inacted is a recent writer for an avowed socialist/marxist magazine who has specifically made statements advocating the control and suppression of information, that seems like a connection, doesn’t it?

      Also, you might not like to hear this, but communism tends to go hand in hand with speech suppression. Just ask the Chinese.

      I mean, seriously, the last thing I want to be is the defender of a millionare on TV who I’ve never met, but I hate to hear unfair accusations, and people like Alpha Liberal and you are making it almost painful. If you’re going to accuse someone of lying, you have to show that they actually have done so.

      • Thinking about that, I think that post may have read a little harsher than I intended (I’m not trying to lump you in with Alpha Liberal, who’s not really a very nice person, and you seem to be.) I hope you don’t take it the wrong way!

      • net neutrality is the principle that ISPs cannot privilege any certain type of web traffic over others. ie, they cannot censor content and they cannot cut deals with sites to give certain traffic priority. It has nothing to do with neither speech suppression (opposite really) nor communism.

        I’m pretty sure he didn’t get where he is being too dumb to understand that concept and its total lack of relation to communism. That’s why he used guilt-by-association: some open communist supports it, it must be bad; and dishonesty: obscure term+implied definition that has nothing to do with the real definition.

        Now there are going to be a million people running around thinking that net neutrality means that Obama wants to censor the internet!

        He’s taking what would be considered a pro-comcast and at&t stance, which is fine. But he hides his point behind communist boogeymen. If he thinks that at&t should be able to privilege traffic from, say, cnn over traffic from wordpress; say it. In that way he intentionally obscures the true debate and is “deceitfully corrupting the political process”, no doubt because he works for one of the biggest media companies in the world and likely has much to gain from tiered web access.

        bah beck. That was just the first video I watched… later I found one where he pretty clearly insinuated that going against his idea of conservative principles meant going against god, rhetoric that I find beyond irresponsible.

        and I’m not just mindlessly hating the guy like some of the folks you may have come accross. I enjoy and often agree with reasonable, honest conservatives, Ann Coulter for instance. I even find O’Reilly is not as bad as people like to make him seem.

        anywho, about “…may have read a little harsher than I intended…” no, no. just discussion. I understand. didn’t seem harsh. Your closing statement, “If you’re going to accuse someone of lying, you have to show that they actually have done so”, is very true.

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