When you hear the name "Glenn Beck," the phrases that most often come to mind are likely to be "rodeo clown," "conspiracy theorist," demagogue, and most recently, "bad writer." But one description that probably never pops up is "civil rights activist." And yet, that is what Beck has been attempting lately, propping up his conspiracy theories and right-wing politics on the legacy of civil rights activist and American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After making negative comments about the military's civilian leadership (including President Obama) to Rolling Stone magazine, top Afghanistan general Stanley McChrystal is heading to Washington,apparently to apologize. It is worth noting that two years ago, during the Bush administration, Admiral William Fallon was in a similar situation and was pushed to resign, as Armed Forces Journal reported:
While the administration and Fallon may not have differed in the objectives of the policy towards Iraq and Iran, they differed in their approach. The Esquire article highlighted comments the admiral made to the Arab television station Al-Jazeera. "This constant drumbeat of conflict ... is not helpful and not useful," Fallon was quoted as saying. "I expect there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for."
Fallon was also criticized for telling Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that the U.S. would not attack Iran. This became a banner headline in the Egyptian Gazette and landed him in trouble with the White House. Additionally, White House officials were concerned about the reported friction between Fallon and Army Gen. David Petraeus, then U.S. commander in Iraq.
The Esquire story was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. On March 11, 2008, only one week after the Esquire article was discussed in The Washington Post, Fallon announced his resignation, calling reports of such disagreements an untenable "distraction."
From the Washington Post's report of Fallon's retirement:
Fallon, 63, had made several comments reflecting disagreement with the administration's stance on Iran, most recently in an Esquire magazine article last week that portrayed him as the only person who might stop Bush from going to war with the Islamic republic.
"Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president's policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time," Fallon said in a statement. Though he denied that any discrepancies exist, he said "it would be best to step aside and allow" Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "and our military leaders to move beyond this distraction."
Right-wing media figures have repeatedly claimed that it's "time we stopped blaming Bush" in discussions of the Gulf oil spill. However, under the Bush administration, federal offshore drilling regulators relaxed regulatory standards and were plagued by ethics scandals.
Following Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward for what he characterized as a "shakedown" by the White House in negotiating for an escrow fund to pay for the after effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, conservatives on Twitter had something of a fight.
Some more evidence that Fox News is not a news organization but actually the communications arm of the Republican Party has emerged. Sen. John Cornyn explained yesterday that Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada wouldn't be talking to the press for "a few weeks":
Cornyn echoed several of his previous statements suggesting Angle isn't quite prepared to face the media, and will be fairly sequestered, at least until she has a full staff of campaign veterans running the show for her.
"You're going to have complete 100 percent access to her, but I think it just makes sense, at some point that I think she needs to get staffed up and prepared," Cornyn said. "I don't think anybody would be prepared for a race like this where 20 or 30 million dollars is going to be spent in negative advertising."
I asked when he expected she'd be able to face a group of reporters without feeling the need to give 'em the slip. "I don't know, I mean I just think it's going to take a few weeks...but you know it's really up to her," Cornyn replied.
Angle is apparently not ready for actual journalists, but she's ready for Fox News, so her June 14 interview with Fox News' Fox & Friends makes total sense. It featured Steve Doocy attempting to hide Angle's position in favor of "transition[ing] out" social security, and was soundly panned by the local Fox affiliate in Las Vegas (they called it "an interview rife with inaccuracies, softball questions and poor research"). Later that day, Angle appeared on Fox News' Hannity, where she took more softball questions from Sean Hannity, and promoted her website and asked Hannity's audience for donations.
As Sen. Cornyn noted, Angle is staying away from the real press, who might ask challenging questions and not attempt to coddle the candidate. Instead, she chose to make her post-primary appearances on Fox News, and the results were predictably softball affairs. Conservatives seem to know that if they want a softball non-news experience, the doors of Fox News appear to be wide open.
There's no legitimate point,no serious political argument to be made in mocking the President's children, but that's just what Rush Limbaugh did today:
On May 27, President Obama explained at a press conference that he was reminded daily about the consequences of the oil spill by his daughter Malia who asked him "did you plug the hole yet?" while he was shaving.
Apparently emulating Malia Obama on his show today, Limbaugh asked, using a high pitched falsetto voice: "Daddy, daddy, did you shake down BP yet daddy? Are you going to make 'em pay, daddy? Are you going to make BP pay? Did you plug the hole yet daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole? Daddy, who's in charge of the Gulf oil spill? Daddy, daddy, what's your golf handicap today daddy? How's your golf game daddy?"
Maybe Rush missed it, but Glenn Beck crossed this line a couple weeks ago and then issued something of an apology (Beck went on days later to attack more of Obama's family, but I digress). But even ignorance of Beck's misfire is no excuse, the president's children should be way off limits.
LIMBAUGH: So, this morning Barack Obama wakes up, heads into the bathroom and starts shaving. The door opens. A little daughter comes in.
Daddy, daddy, did you shake down BP yet daddy? Are you going to make 'em pay, daddy? Are you going to make BP pay? Did you plug the hole yet daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole? Daddy, who's in charge of the Gulf oil spill? Daddy, daddy, what's your golf handicap today daddy? How's your golf game daddy?
Man, oh man, oh man I thought I was watching the final episode of LOST last night, and I was just as confused by that speech as I was by the final episode of LOST. I couldn't figure that out. I'm watching a child last night! I'm sitting there, I'm watching this thing with Katherine, we're watching this and I got bored after ten minutes. I knew where it was going, I know what it was going to say. He looked small. The biggest thing on my screen was the ears! And I'm saying, my gosh, we've got a boy, we've got a child here playing president. We have got an academic playing President of the United States, in a serious, serious time, during a serious, serious emergency. And we have somebody totally incompetent and unqualified to deal with any aspect of it, any aspect of the presidency period.
As the 2010 World Cup begins in South Africa, conservative media figures have seized the opportunity to attack the tournament and the sport of soccer. They have also used soccer as a proxy to attack President Obama and progressives.
Fox News has done their best to create a mountain out of a molehill regarding discussions between the Obama administration and prospective Senate candidates in Pennsylvania and Colorado. While legal and political experts and historians have overwhelmingly stated that the White House's conversations with Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff are not at all unusual, Fox News reporters, anchors and pundits have insisted that something improper occurred, with some like Sean Hannity and Dick Morris discussing possible criminal charges and even the commission of an "impeachable offense."
Now along comes a poll from Rasmussen that shows that only 19 percent of respondents believe that the discussions (which Rasmussen characterizes as "job offers" despite the contrary evidence) were anything unusual in politics. Furthermore, the poll's respondents found the issue far less important than any of the ten issues Rasmussen typically asks if respondents find important.
Scott Rasmussen himself says of the results, "While politicians profess to be shocked at the job offers, voters see business as usual."
Fox News has a habit of picking up and repeating Rasmussen polls ad nauesaum, even though they often reinforce conservative framing of the issue at hand. Considering that this poll seems to give a contrary response to what Fox News has been promoting, it will be interesting to see if this result gets the traditional hype.
It becomes clearer each day that Glenn Beck's grasp on how the world works is quite tenuous. He simply doesn't understand things, and reaches out for theories, no matter how harebrained they might be. When he latches on to something, it becomes his guiding principle until he becomes distracted by a new theory. He's like a cat with a new ball of yarn. One day it's a faulty "history" book, the next it's the writings of a virulent anti-semite, then it's a Robin Hood movie. The underlying facts don't matter, just whether the theory tickles Beck's fancy or not.
It's possible that Glenn Beck is insecure about his fans, or just that he's actually silly enough to take Newsbusters seriously. Either way, he's totally off the mark in this clip from today's show:
Reacting to a Washington Post story about conservatives attending conservative classes on the U.S. Constitution, Beck claims that the Post said you were only studying constitutional studies if "you're a fringy Glenn Beck fan." But the story didn't say that at all. Not even close.
Two years ago, Taylor, who is president of the National Center for Constitutional Studies, made about 35 trips to speak to small church groups and political gatherings. This year, he has received so many requests that he enlisted 15 volunteer instructors, who are on pace to hold more than 180 sessions reaching thousands of people.
"We're trying to flood the nation . . . and it's happening," said Taylor, 63, a charter school principal.
If a "tea party" event is where the disaffected go to protest the present, his classes are where they go to ponder the past. Participants include members of "9.12" groups inspired by conservative commentator Glenn Beck, Republicans, home-school groups and people affiliated with militias.
Now, while some may believe - with reason - that some of the groups listed are "fringy," the Post did not characterize them that way. Newsbusters, however, wrote "Students in Constitution Class Are Probably Fringy Militia Types, WaPo Implies." As we've shown time and again, Newsbusters often imputes thoughts on to the writers of journalism they disagree with and -- as in this case -- often neglect to cite any hard facts to make their point. It's lousy media criticism, and when Beck just appears to regurgitate it, the result is an accusation without basis in reality.
Even worse, Beck made it sound as if the article was discussing just standard-issue constitutional studies, when in fact the classes in question clearly share Beck's inclination towards a mangled version of American history (it's unclear if they, like Beck, recommend the writings of anti-semites or not). But even then, the article didn't make the value judgement Beck and Newsbusters accuse it of.
This is Beck (and Newsbusters) getting something completely wrong. Again.