In the wake of Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor Bill Kristol calling out Glenn Beck for his "hysteria" over Egypt, prominent conservatives have been choosing sides.
Beck has responded by lashing out at critics -- including telling people that call him "crazy" because of his New World Order theory to "go to hell" -- and wrongly insisting that articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have proven him right.
This weekend was not a particularly good one for Team Beck - as we noted, Bill O'Reilly and several Fox News guests directly contradicted Beck's Egypt theories on Friday night.
During his regular "At Your Beck and Call" segment, O'Reilly challenged Beck, going so far as to say "I don't see it," and adding that "there's no evidence that says I'm not right."
But while prominent conservatives distanced themselves from Beck's incoherence, Beck found solid support from a couple attendees at CPAC.
WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi, whose love for conspiracy theories leads him to say things like Obama "has stolen the identity of a natural born citizen" and is "using someone else's Social Security number," said that he and WND have "supported Glenn Beck" and that "Glenn Beck is right on it." Corsi referenced a piece by fellow WND writer Aaron Klein, in which Klein wrote that he was "compelled to join Glenn Beck's side":
Fox's purported business expert Eric Bolling routinely advances falsehoods about climate change, airing views and hosting guests that reinforce skeptics' claims that global warming "is just a big scam." Bolling, "once one of the biggest individual traders of oil and energy futures," also regularly pushes offshore drilling on-air.
A few nights ago, Bill O'Reilly got into quite the tizzy over praise Arabic network Al Jazeera is receiving for its coverage of the Egypt protests. Desperate to push his theory that Al Jazeera is "anti-American" and "anti-Semitic," O'Reilly got so worked up he ended up screaming at guest Alan Colmes over it.
The exchange started like this:
O'REILLY: I just ran a Talking Points Memo that backed up, all right, with four specific things that this is an anti-Semitic, anti-American network, and I could do 40 of them.
COLMES: What you said, those were people on the network as guests. That wasn't --
O'REILLY: There is no counter --
COLMES: That wasn't editorializing by the network.
O'Reilly then blew a gasket:
O'REILLY: Why don't you grasp this? And I'm getting a little mad at you. Grasp this! There's no counter on it! You got it? There's no counter on it!
But as Colmes rightly noted, the statements O'Reilly lifted to make his point were made by guests, not by the network or its journalists. During his "Talking Points Memo," O'Reilly included comments from Iraq cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, former Guantánamo detainee Walid Muhammad Hajj, and Ibrahim Alloush, a Palestinian-Jordanian journalist and professor. He added that his show "could provide hundreds, hundreds of examples of anti-Semitism and hate-America rhetoric displayed on Al Jazeera." O'Reilly then called praise for the network, "totally absurd," saying: "Any fair-minded person who follows Al Jazeera knows it's anti-American and anti-Semitic."
Indeed, the distinction between editorial and news is one Fox News itself has taken pains to point out when critics accuse it of advancing a certain point of view.
It's only a few weeks into 2011, but I feel I must nominate Fox Business' Stuart Varney for what could turn out to be the most inane statement of the year by a conservative host. During an interview with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on the February 3 edition of his show, Varney advanced the notion that Cuccinelli's investigation into climate scientist Michael Mann, a former University of Virginia professor, has no bearing on the "argument about whether there is global warming or not." This claim doesn't pass the laugh test -- not even a little bit. As I detailed a few weeks ago, the only reason Mann is under attack is because skeptics (falsely) assert that he tampered with data to support the case for global warming.
On the show, after pressing Cuccinelli on whether he "was going after" Mann, Varney stated: "This is not an argument about whether there is global warming or not -- obviously not." Varney added: "That's not part of the debate here." Cuccinelli replied: "Correct."
In fact, the whole investigation is about trying to discredit the science behind global warming.
In recent weeks Fox has repeatedly promoted skeptics' view that "there is no global warming," dismissing the extensive body of evidence supporting the scientific consensus on climate change. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are drafting legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
In the wake of protests in Egypt, right-wing media have compared President Obama to corrupt Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled that country as a police state for 30 years. Conservative media have long accused Obama of being "anti-Democratic" and a "dictator."
Conservatives, ever desperate to disprove the science behind global warming, have latched on to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's baseless investigation into climate scientist Michael Mann and his work at the University of Virginia. As the Washington Post reported, Cuccinelli is "demanding that the University of Virginia turn over a broad range of documents" from Mann, a former professor at the university, "to determine whether he defrauded taxpayers as he sought grants for global warming research."
Democrats in Virginia's General Assembly responded to Cuccinelli's investigation by proposing several measures to limit the power of attorneys general to issue civil subpoenas, including to public universities, citing "government intrusion" into academic and private life.
Jim Hoft, who continually amazes with the inanity of his attacks on progressives and the president and his wife, charged that Democrats are moving to "block" the investigation of what he called "manipulated global warming junk science data." He further alleged of climate change: "We all knew it was a scam." Fox Nation claimed that Democrats "are panicked over 'Climategate' probe," and right-wing blog Weasel Zippers, who asserted that "Mann was knee-deep in ClimateGate," wrote of Virginia Democrats: "It's almost like they're trying to hide something."
There at least three basic problems with conservatives' defense of Cuccinelli's investigation: (1) The so-called "Climategate" scandal that forms the basis of Cuccinelli's investigation is based on distortions and misrepresentations and does not cast doubt on the science behind climate change; (2) the Democrats' proposal to limit Cuccinelli's powers would not bar him from pursuing a lawsuit against Mann and UVA if he could prove there really was fraud; and (3) Cuccinelli's use of his subpoena powers to attack Mann and the university run the risk of chilling academic freedom.
Fox News contributor Rick Santorum, who is considering running for president in 2012, invoked President Obama's race while talking about abortion recently, saying* it is "remarkable for a black man to say, 'No, we are gonna decide who are people and who are not people.' " (Santorum addressed his remarks today in a statement to The Brody File blog of the Christian Broadcasting Network. The statement is after the jump.)
Interviewing Santorum, CNSNews' Terry Jeffrey started the discussion with a quote from Roman philosopher Cicero about there being a "true law ... conformable to nature" that "must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable." When asked whether he agreed with Cicero, Santorum replied, "Absolutely," adding, "There are two laws: there's the secular law, there's manmade laws; then there's a higher law, the sacred law, universal law, the natural law that's -- that we learn in America by a march through faith -- through the moral code that faith teaches. ... And that law is one that sits over the secular law." Santorum continued:
SANTORUM: So when we had slavery in this country, it didn't -- slavery did not conform to the natural law. And as a result, there was agitation, always. Abortion doesn't conform to the natural law. Why? Because we don't -- all life should be respected. And so, this agitation of having laws that are in -- secular laws that are inconsistent with the natural law is something that we've dealt with in America from its very founding. And -- but we have to recognize that there's a place for the articulation of the sacred law ... or the natural law, or the universal law and that they need to be in the public square, and they need to be involved in the political discourse because there are moral components to every single law we pass.
Santorum then went on to criticize the "elite," "the planners," and "the smart people," who say, " 'No, this is how we're gonna do things.' " Santorum added: "And if the sacred law and the secular don't match up, as the Supreme Court has done on numerous occasions -- whether it's marriage, or abortion, or a whole host of others issues -- they've sort of pulled that discussion, that, you know, perfect remedy, and pulled the plug on it and said, no, we're gonna impose our remedy -- an imperfect one based upon the elites of our culture."
Bringing the discussion to "current, concrete issues," Jeffrey asked, "We asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ... this past summer whether she believed Jesus had a right to life from the moment of conception. What's your -- did Jesus have a right to life from the moment of conception?" Santorum replied:
During his January 14 Fox News show, Glenn Beck ranted about purported members of what he called the "intelligent minority," nefarious figures from government, finance, media, and academia who he says believe they can and should control everyone's choices, "not just in politics, but everywhere." Of the nine individuals Beck singled out for attacks, we identified eight as being Jewish.
In a post on his Atlantic blog titled, "Glenn Beck's Jewish Problem," national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg writes:
It's become clear to me that the Fox commentator Glenn Beck has something of a Jewish problem. Actually, he has something of a modernity problem, and people with modernity problems tend to have problems with Jews, who more or less invented modernity (Einstein, Marx, Freud, Franz Boas, etc.)
After listing the eight Jews Beck attacked, Goldberg continued:
It is fair to ask if Beck knows that these people are Jewish (It is not widely-known that Rendell is Jewish, I think). But Beck is a smart person, and has researchers at hand with access to Wikipedia. Further, most of these people on Beck's "big lie" list are already the targets of straightforward attacks in the dark, anti-Semitic corners of the Web, so an extended Google search, in some cases, would show that much of the opposition to some of these people is motivated by anti-Semitism. That said, Beck has not crossed a certain line, by identifying his targets openly as Jewish. Nevertheless, this, to me, is a classic case of anti-Semitic dog-whistling. Beck is speaking to a certain constituency, and the thought has now crossed my mind that this constituency understands the clear implications of what Beck is saying.
Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ) has called on News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch to fire Beck, because of what JFSJ president Simon Greer calls Beck's "Jewish problem." Greer cited Beck's attacks on George Soros, as well as on the largely Jewish rogues gallery. In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Greer stated: "We find it hard to believe that it was only coincidence that eight of the nine individuals on his list alleging a shadowy alliance to control the Americans through propaganda were Jewish."
A few days ago, The Washington Times joined other conservative media in defending Sarah Palin over her use of the term "blood libel." The term, as many have noted, historically refers to the anti-Semitic charge that Jews use the blood of Christian children in some religious rituals -- a myth that has long been the source of anti-Jewish violence. In an editorial hitting back at Palin's critics, liberals who "scramble[d] to score points from murder," the Times decried the "ongoing pogrom against conservative thinkers" and warned against the "hateful bile that inspires many of today's liberals."
The Times further stated:
The last two years have seen a proliferation of similar baseless charges of racism, sexism, bigotry, Islamophobia and inciting violence against those on the right who have presented ideas at odds with the establishment's liberal orthodoxy. Columnist Paul Krugman took advantage of the murders to tar conservative icon Rush Limbaugh and Fox News superstar Glenn Beck as "hate-mongers." It's this sort of reflexive and dastardly mudslinging that drowns out reasoned discussion of public-policy alternatives and poisons the well of political debate in America.
While it is laudable for people to rise above the "reflexive and dastardly mudslinging" that permeates the political debate, the Times frankly has no business lecturing others on "hateful bile." This is the same newspaper that has happily published hate-filled screed after screed against gay men and lesbians, progressives, and Muslims. It has also perpetuated right-wing smears of President Obama.