EXCLUSIVE: Major Radio Company Pressured Beck To Address Reform Judaism Firestorm

Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

Glenn Beck never misses an opportunity for self-aggrandizement, and when he apologized last week for slandering the largest religious denomination of American Jews, Beck used the occasion to boast of his own "honor" and "integrity," and said: "I lead with my mistakes, because I think it's important as a human being to demonstrate to other human beings that we can be stronger if we correct our mistakes and flaws and move on."

But it turns out that Beck's apology came only after Salem Communications -- a company that owns major stations that broadcast Beck's show -- asked him to address the controversy.

In a statement obtained by Media Matters, Jeff Reisman, a manager of the Salem station that carries Beck in Chicago, acknowledged that Salem Communications "requested that Glenn Beck respond directly regarding his recent comments":

Thanks for your e-mail. WIND's parent company requested that Glenn Beck respond directly regarding his recent comments. As I am sure you already heard, Mr. Beck issued a public apology this morning and clearly stated that he made a mistake and referred to himself as ignorant and having made one of the worst analogies of all time. Furthermore, he referenced Abraham Foxman and stated that Abe was absolutely correct. If you have not heard the audio, I can send it to you.

I appreciate your e-mail and concern.

On February 22, Beck likened Reform Judaism to "radicalized Islam," in that they are supposedly both "more about politics" than faith and religion. Two days later, Beck apologized at length for his comments, saying that his comparison was one of the "worst analogies of all time" and conceding that his remarks were "ignorant." Beck also claimed that he immediately knew his comments about Reform Judaism were a "nightmare." As Media Matters previously pointed out, this raises the question of why he then waited two days to apologize for them.

Beck also used his apology to boast of his own journalistic integrity, claiming that it surpasses that of the New York Times:

BECK: I do this, because I have always told you to do your own homework, and in this case, I didn't do enough homework. I also tell you that you, you have to guard your word, you have to guard your honor and your integrity, because people have to be able to believe you. The only way people will believe you is if when you get it wrong, you do apologize, and you, and you point it out, and not like the New York Times or anybody else, bury it on page two. I lead with my mistakes, because I think it's important as a human being to demonstrate to other human beings that we can be stronger if we correct our mistakes and flaws and move on.

Beck's self-professed strict adherence to a code of "honor" and "integrity" notwithstanding, his apology came only after he was condemned by two national Jewish groups and had lost yet another sponsor, which suggests it was more likely an attempt at damage control.

Salem owns stations that broadcast Beck's show in both Chicago and Los Angeles, and Beck has extra incentive to keep them happy right now. Beck's show is currently not syndicated in New York City. Though five stations have confirmed that they will not carry Beck, two holdouts remain. Both are owned by Salem.

On their website, Salem describes itself as a "leading U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider, and magazine and book publisher targeting audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values." In addition to owning popular conservative websites like HotAir.com and Townhall.com, Salem also syndicates radio hosts like Bill Bennett, Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, and Michael Medved.

Visitors to Beck's website for much of last week were greeted with this prominent headline, framing Beck's apology around his commitment to "honor" and "integrity":

A more accurate headline may have been: "You have to guard your bottom line."

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
Salem Radio Network
Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck Program
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.