Sunday, August 21, 2011

Face Palm Moments in Journalism: Glenn Beck and the Inconvenience of Truth

(photo @ sodahead.com)


Believe or not, my first exposure to Glenn Beck was actually pretty positive. I read a few chapters of his book, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' and I was actually pretty impressed with much of his analysis, research, and writing style.

In fact, besides a few snide shots at President Obama, I really didn't identify him as a "right wing nut job" like a lot of folks do. I still don't.

To call him 'right wing' would imply a loyalty to a hard and fast political belief, which I don't believe that he has. I also hesitate to call him a 'nut job' because much like Michael Moore and Sean Hannity, I think he is well aware of how insane he sounds...and laughing all the way to the bank.


                                                                            dantynan.com
My tinfoil hat is actually made out of platinum...don't hate.


Why do I think Glenn Beck is more concerned with being an entertainer than being a force for change?  Well, for starters, he pretty much said it in this Forbes interview (scroll down to highlighted, offending text).

It's a little scary to me when so many people take his political stances and ideals so seriously, but his personal position is:

"I could give a flying crap about the political process. We're an entertainment company."


Another reason that I think he's more of a master salesman than an ideologue....is that he really is a master salesman. Watch how Glenn Beck drums up fear about the economy, reports on and encourages gold buying (a common symptom of a fearful economy), and then advertises for an internet cash for gold site:


If you take out the blatant conflict of interest (or the fact that Goldline is a bit of a sketchy company), it's really  a very brilliant plan. But you don't get to having a net worth of $85 million ($85 million soon to be worthless dollars in our crumbling society/economy) just by having good business sense or making reasonable arguments.

You gotta be willing to act a little crazy...or maybe have an array of actual mental disorders...that you can parlay into a lucrative business.


                                                             bonneth
Heeeeeere's high profit margins!


For starters, let's look at the pesky issue of Glenn Beck's memory.

If you don't believe that he is putting on a show, then he is either a blatant liar, or the poor guy has a harder time remembering things than the guy in the movie 'Memento.'


                                                                               bluemoonhuntress
For my next tattoo, I can't decide between the 2nd amendment or 'NRA Forever.'


Glenn Beck did a series of personal reports/anecdotes that claimed the United States had a terrible health care system that desperately needed to be fixed. A little over a year later, he attacked President Obama for trying to destroy "the best health care system in the world."




Now people can easily forget a lot of things during that span of time; maybe we need to drastically shorten it.

Let's take a  look at what happens to Beck's memory on President Obama's feelings toward white people in the span of a few minutes:





So yeah...Obama has a deep seeded hatred of white people, but he's not saying Obama doesn't like white people...or something.


                                                                huffingtonpost
I'm sorry, could you repeat that?  
I was too busy lighting this guy on fire while trying to make sense.


Other times, Beck just makes random stuff up...

...like the time Glenn Beck claimed that First Lady Michelle Obama had a personal staff of 43 people, including a personal shopper. Not only that, but apparently Nancy Regan only needed 3 people on her staff!

Turns out that Beck was way off. Mrs. Obama's staff is about 25 people in size; the same as Laura Bush's was while her husband was in office. Also, Nancy Regan had a staff of 15.


                                                    conservativeamerican
Every gangsta needs a posse.


But hey, who cares about all that crap? It's not like he lies about anything important or pertaining to his political views, right? Well, let's look at a few examples, just to be sure:

1.) Glenn Beck told a heart warming and inspirational story about Wilmington, Ohio, a town that was hit hard by the recession and massive job losses, but refused to take any government money...except that they totally did; quite a bit of it, actually.

2.) Beck claimed that the government was shutting down large gatherings at the Lincoln Memorial to prevent free speech...except that the shut down wasn't happening at all.

3.) This one is one of my favorites. Beck goes off on a rant about how Obama's health care bill offers health insurance to dogs.



Surprisingly, this turned out to be completely untrue as well.


                                                                                       callmeshree
Thanks for getting my hopes up, jerkface.



4.) This one is some Grade A certified crazy: Beck claims that John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, advocated forced abortions and sterilants in drinking water to control population growth.

These turned out to be population control ideas taken from a 30 year old college textbook that were criticized by the authors, one of which was Holder.

5.) Okay, I know I said no more petty ones, but this is one of my favorites. Apparently, Spider-Man is gay.

Beck doesn't start out on that crazy train of logic, but eventually comes to that conclusion (if you can listen to the end without your head exploding).



I mean, he's just a very physically fit guy that is incredible at gymnastics, and sews his own full length, form fitting body suits...

....okay, maybe Beck's onto something with this one.

                                                                                       sondrak.com


But so many people follow this guy and hang on every word that he says.  In fact, some of the folks I know that follow him are pretty smart.

So how does he get away with lying so much?

It's very simple: He depends on you claiming him (or Fox News) as your only source of information. For an example, let's once again go to the Daily Show. Here, Glenn Beck claims that he is showing footage that no other news network except Fox was showing. That's a pretty impressive feat considering that many of them showed it before Fox did:



Unfortunately, Glenn Beck's audience is falling for one of the classic Nazi propaganda techniques that he is always ranting about.  He stands in a room by himself (or has someone on that agrees with him), and debates straw man arguments and made up facts. It's a classic propaganda technique for someone who knows that their outlandish beliefs can't stand up to actual scrutiny.

If you watch Glenn Beck and still take him seriously, ask yourself this: Why doesn't he ever debate anyone of merit on his show?

How come Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Steele, Bill O'Reilly, and many other prominent conservatives will go on the Daily Show (who's clips you can tell I like to use often), but Glenn Beck continues to refuse Jon Stewart's open invitation?

Still don't know? Still think that Glenn Beck is a prophet and the world is crumbling to pieces around us?  Well, then maybe I can interest you in an end of the world Survival Kit, which Glenn Beck himself endorses.




Did you catch that first part where he used 9/11 to help sell his 'beef stroganoff' enhanced survival pack? If you still don't think he's crazy or a guy acting crazy to make a buck, then you at least have to admit that he's not classy.

                                     politicususa
...and c'mon, you gotta admit he may be a little crazy.




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