Who is Glen Beck? What is this phenomenon where an uneducated, former alcoholic, can be given a voice that impacts millions? Is it because of talent, or do moneyed influential people want his right-wing voice heard?
Everywhere in the blogs, the news stories you see this man. He is a huckster of great sales talent. Formerly (and AAA says always) an alcoholic, former radio drive time show host with a gift of gab, and convert to the Mormon Church, Glen Beck has the distinction and ability to appeal to a socio-economic demographic group concentrated in rural communities, heartland America, with special popularity among low to mid level income people who do not, as a whole have extended educations. While one poll indicated that the “Tea Party” does not represent a “poor” element of our society, most observers agree that the vast majority of it’s members do not represent a high level of educational or economic attainment. They reflect, instead, and element or sector of our economy that has been impacted by the global recession brought on by the long-term deregulatory policies of big business and the political strategy of right-wing and business influenced politicians to give business a “free hand” without regulations. That resulted in abuse and corruption on the part of big business, and those financial reversals have hurt the “Tea Party” crowd significantly.
In spite of limited education, but because of the anger brought on by the recession, Glen Beck’s audience, through his speaking skill and good marketing, has grown to the point where he has been called the voice of the “Tea Party” in an opinion poll of Democracy Corps.
To add appeal and mystique to his message he apparently became obsessed with the works of a deceased author, W. Cleon Skousen. We can make that assumption by the fact that Beck quotes or paraphrases Skousen constantly. Skousen, at his death was considered an “out of the box” right-wing extremist by the Mormon Church, but early in his writing legacy he came on the scene when McCarthy was being discredited for his ill-conceived, fraudulently “spun” anti communist movement. McCarthy had exaggerated and created “illusions of facts” that when exposed destroyed his credibility. Skousen, of similar bent, was fired as Police Chief in Salt Lake City, when the Mayor said “The is a master of half-truths and runs the police like the Gestapo”. Strange this pattern of half-truths seems to run in the “blood” of this entire chain of “McCarthy, Skousen, and the John Birch Society” .
When McCarthy was found to be fabricating evidence, and his “Communist Frenzie” that hurt thousands of innocent Americans, was discredited. His loyal followers who loved conspiracy theories needed a place to go. They were often of rural, uneducated, mid to lower-income social groups, many with evangelical churches such as the conservative Baptists, or right wind fringe elements of the Mormon church. About the time McCarthy’s star fell, the John Birch Society was formed by a former Mormon missionary, Robert Welch. He and Skousen became the John Birch Society followers, their intellectual “scholars”. They, like McCarthy devoured “conspiracy theories” and seemed to find a conspiracy behind every door. For example;
- Eisenhower was called a “closet” Communist.
- Roosevelt was a Communist.
- The Federal Reserve Bank was a “conspiracy of socialists to control the world”.
- Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton were all “anti God” when they suggested separation of Church and State. (Does any of this sound familiar?).
- Democrats were “anti God” (this anger at Democrats increased especially when President Lyndon Johnson ordered the FBI to enforce anti-polygamy laws in Utah).
- Richard Nixon even got involved in an “anti communist investigation” that helped his political fortunes.
Thus, thousands of disaffected conspiracy nuts and McCarthy followers needed a home and this became the role of the John Birch Society, until main stream Republicans realized that they could never win general elections with the extremist radical right going further and further out on the fringe. In the 1980’s and through the 1990’s the John Birch Society was quiet, but simmering. When huckster “style” talk show hosts such as Limbaugh and Beck hit the airwaves they began to empower these radical extreme right-wing elements by bringing millions of new followers into the group. The “W” Bush administration seemed to accept them and they re-emerged on the streets as the Tea Party, early in the Obama Administration. The notion that there is a potential “Morman” candidate for President, as well as two Governors (Perry in Texas, and Palin in Alaska) who seemed to be hooked on Beck’s mimicry of Cleon Skousen should be noted. Perry has said that “Texas should succeed from he Union” and Palin that “She can see Russia from her window in Alaska and thus knows foreign policy”.
Those who listen to media talk shows have noted that in the past 20 years, there has been great growth in the radical right-wing microphones of radio. The mantra has been that of aggressive, baiting, judgemental, evangelical, spokesmen that push emotional buttons to manipulate and energize audiences to two things. Buy the tapes, or programs or whatever the talk show hucksters can create to “fleece the masses” financially. And vote for emerging right-wing nuts. Some of these people are scary. We have heard irresponsible radio talk show hosts propose everything from “arm yourselves, there may be a revolution” to proclaiming “To all of you moderates and liberals. We are watching you and we will get you one by one.” These pronouncements are harmful because they empower a fringe element that could take action. This is not conservative “Bible” teaching. It is more like the Fascists or Nazis of the 1940’s. Thinking people, connected people, educated people must respond, with carefull and wise leadership. Our nation has fallen into the influence of ethically, and intellectually challenged manipulators with great communication skills. Hitler taught us that a “loud and persuasive voice” can lead the world into chaos of fire and destruction.It is critical that our nation not fall prey to people such as the right-wing fanatics of extremism,who apparently have neither wisdom or insight. They do have the loyalty of an army of “T-shirted neo John Birchers” called the Tea Party. Sadly, the Tea Party people don’t even realize the implications of the propaganda they are being spoon fed.
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Glen Beck’s web site is a combination of sales marketing, hucksterism, sensationalism, and low-class and mid-class manipulation. He attacks the biggest names. Repeatedly scholars and analysts have carefully documented large numbers of “exaggerations”, “mistakes”, “untruths”, and outright transparent efforts to press his “Skousen” and “Robert Welch” opinions that come straight from the McCarthy, John Birch Society, Tea Party lineage. Most recently Beck attacked the Soros foundation, one of the world’s most respected contributors to human rights, children, and poverty issues. He seemed to particularly take offense at George Soro’s philosophy that no one group has a monopoly of absolute truth. That is the way it is with ideologues, they must have absolute truth, and the absolute truth always happens to be “their opinion” and no one else’s.
So, now the have the intellectual and philosophical leader of the new Tea Party political element led by a man without a formal education, a former alcoholic, and a man with virtually no credentials except that he is a born again Morman who loves to read, and plagiarise and mimic authors such as Welch and Skousen.
Bob Cesca, New Media Producer on April 7, 2010 described Beck as follows:
“Glenn Beck is a fraud. A dangerous faker who deliberately manipulates his audience by appealing to their basest instincts. As a man who only embraces conservatism and the tea party movement as a means to furthering his significant personal wealth and career as a successful TV goon.” He further wrote: “He’s tricking his audience. Unlike a left-leaning audience, Beck’s audience is mostly composed of white conservative Christians who pride themselves on taking certain things on faith, and who often act against their own financial interests for the sake of patriotic cheerleading.” And then “he’s mashing up the most effective and successful aspects of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and ’60s Bircher author Cleon Skousen, and filtering it all through the performance techniques of a televangelist. Listen to any random monologue by Glenn Beck and then watch some clips of televangelist Jack Van Impe. Both are master manipulators and (crazy aside) riveting speakers. They each nail their audiences with rapid-fire barrages of nonsense presented as dramatic fact — so twisted and obscured that it begins to seem real and anything that might not seem entirely plausible, just have faith. After all, there are complicated drawings on a blackboard! Oh, and he cries. So he must be serious. (We learned last year that the crying is fake.)”
It would seem that every scholar who has studied the teachings and statements of Skousen (and Beck) have found huge numbers of errors, half-truths and outright lies. Alexander Zaitchik reports in his informative study of Beck, “Common Nonsense,” the new book became an object of controversy in 1987, after the California Bicentennial Commission sold it as part of a fund-raising drive. Among its offenses was an account of slavery drawn from long-disgraced work by the historian Fred A. Shannon, which characterized slave children as “pickaninnies” and suggested that the worst victims of slavery were the slaveholders themselves. The constitutional scholar Jack Rakove, of Stanford, inspected Skousen’s book and seminars and pronounced them “a joke that no self-respecting scholar would think is worth a warm pitcher of spit.”
In one sense we must admire a man of limited education who can by the salesmanship of his personality, create an influential radio voice. On the other hand, when we see the lack of quality and educated content that is being broadcast, and that the “fruits” of these broadcast tend to agitate and destabilize a significant number of our population, then we wonder if it is responsible for broadcasting companies to encourage unqualified people such as Beck to be on the air. It is not as if he were a Walter Cronkite. There was a day, when a broadcaster had to show education, credentials, training, and true depth of qualifications before being given a microphone heard by millions. Our point is, that when we listen to people such as Beck, we need to realize that there are few orignal thoughts and that every line must be carefully tested to discern truth and “spin”, fact or “ideology”. Ultimately, when the voice of radicals or extremists are heard, there is potential for damage to a people. The question is an important one. We all believe in Freedom of Speech, but would you give a known “Hitler” your microphone? While Beck is not a Hitler, he certainly represents a point of view, and empowers and encourages a radical element of society that is worth monitoring. Our call is for responsible broadcasting, and if a radio broadcast includes incorrect or non factual information, there should be some method where this has to be corrected and “spin” should be disclosed and watched with care.