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.
2.to offer (a toast).
3.to suggest: He proposed that a messenger be sent.
4.to present or nominate (a person) for some position, office, membership, etc.
5.to put before oneself as something to be done; design; intend.
6.to present to the mind or attention; state.
7.to 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, FactCheck.org 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.