Beck used a slew of misleading figures to claim that "half of the real news is being intentionally withheld from you"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

Glenn Beck touted a slew of misleading numbers to claim that "half of the real news is being intentionally withheld from you" because the media have "an agenda" and "it seems like the agenda thing is working right now." But Beck's evidence for this "agenda" included a series of false and misleading claims about the economy and the war in Iraq.

On the October 11 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck touted a slew of misleading numbers to claim that "half of the real news is being intentionally withheld from you" because the media have "an agenda" and "it seems like the agenda thing is working right now." As evidence of this "agenda," Beck falsely claimed that "nobody's" reporting the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke its all-time record. In fact, the record-breaking number -- which was not record-breaking when adjusted for inflation -- was widely reported. Beck also misleadingly claimed that "[r]evenues are at an all-time high," despite the fact that as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), revenues lag behind previous highs. Finally, Beck misrepresented the findings of a recent study -- which found that approximately 655,000 more Iraqis may have died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 than would have been expected to die under pre-war conditions -- to claim that that 69 percent of civilians killed in Iraq "do not die at the hands of American soldiers." In fact, the study found that 31 percent of deaths were attributed to the U.S.-led coalition but that "[r]esponsibility could not be attributed in 45 percent of the violent deaths." Beck concluded that the study "leads me to believe that the Iraqis would be saying 'Good God, Americans, please don't leave us now. We're surrounded by people trying to kill us.' " In fact, according to a recent poll, an overwhelming majority of Iraqis are in favor of a timetable for U.S. withdrawal. After citing the misleading numbers, Beck claimed: "The reason you're not hearing it is because the liberal left would then have to accept this as fact, and then they'd have to shift their argument."

Dow is at the "highest ever"

One of Beck's misleading figures was "11,867," which referred to the Dow's level at closing on October 10. Beck declared that 11,867 "is the highest ever, and the fourth time the Dow broke the all-time high in the last two weeks," then asked: "How come nobody's saying that this time around, with the election only weeks away? Ha! What a surprise." In fact, the Dow's October 10 record closing was noted on that night's editions of CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams and in wire stories by Reuters and the Associated Press, which appeared in newspapers across the country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. In addition, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and all three television networks reported on the Dow's October 3 closing at 11,727.34, the highest close since the 11,722.98 posted on January 14, 2000.

Further, Beck failed to note that, when adjusted for inflation, the Dow is far below its peak, set in January 2000, according to the October 3 New York Times article. From the Times: "By some measures, the Dow still has some ways to go before it can be said to have reclaimed its previous heights. On an inflation-adjusted basis, the average would have to reach 14,104.97 points for it to match its January 2000 peak."

From a chart produced by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Tax revenues are "at an all-time high"

Beck claimed: tax "[r]evenues are at an all-time high, which means that, by cutting taxes, we've actually grown the economy and are getting more tax revenue." In fact, revenues are not at "an all-time high" as a percentage of GDP. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that as a percentage of GDP, revenues are on the rise, but still lag behind record highs during the Clinton administration. The CBO estimated revenues as a percentage of GDP will be 18.3 percent in 2006, down from 20.9 percent in 2000. Further, Beck cited the revenue figures to claim that "by cutting taxes, we've actually grown the economy." But an October 11 Washington Post article quoted Robert D. Reischauer, the former director of the CBO, as saying that tax cuts "have done little to boost economic growth":

But Robert D. Reischauer, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the Urban Institute, gave the tax cuts little credit because the economic effect of putting that money back into the economy was offset by the debt incurred from extra spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and relief from Hurricane Katrina. "The consensus among economists is that the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the extensions have done little to boost economic growth, having been offset by increased spending," he said.

Reischauer agreed that revenue is stronger than most observers expected. "But what we're seeing is the calm before the storm," he said. "Everyone knows that the current revenue and spending structures taken together will be unsustainable as the baby-boom generation begins to enter its retirement years."

Iraqis tell Americans "please don't leave us now"

Finally, Beck cited a study released by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on October 11, reporting that approximately 655,000 more Iraqis may have died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 than would have been expected to die under prewar conditions. Beck then noted that "a number you will not be hearing" is 69, which he claimed is "the percentage of the 655,000 Iraqi civilians who did not die at the hands of American soldiers." In fact, the study found that 31 percent of deaths were attributed to the U.S.-led coalition but that "[r]esponsibility could not be attributed in 45 percent of the violent deaths." Beck added that the study "leads me to believe that the Iraqis would be saying, 'Good God, Americans, please don't leave us now. We're surrounded by people trying to kill us.' " But Beck failed to note that a recent poll, released on September 27 by WorldOpinion.org, found that 71 percent of Iraqis would "like the Iraqi government to ask the American forces to" withdraw within six months and that 78 percent think the "US military in Iraq" is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing."

From the October 11 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Here is one number that you will definitely be hearing endless amounts about: 655,000. One that you will not be hearing? Sixty-nine. I'll explain more in a minute.

Another number that will not get mentioned is 11,867. One that will: 248 billion. But what about 22.3? Oh, no, you won't hear a peep about that.

Now, before I explain what these numbers mean, here's "The Point" tonight. Because we are getting close to an election, half of the real news is being intentionally withheld from you, which makes the news as meaningless as the numbers I just gave to you unless someone puts them into context. Here's how we got there.

The first number is 655,000; you probably read about it today or heard about it on the radio. It is the number of Iraqi civilians that have been killed since the war began. Here is what the president had to say to that number.

BUSH [video clip]: No, I don't consider it a credible report. Neither does General [George] Casey [Commander of U.S. forces in Iraq], and neither do Iraq officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me, and it grieves me.

BECK: OK, now here's the reason why President Bush does not think the number is credible. It was -- it was a number taken from a study, published on Thursday on the website of The Lancet. It's a British medical journal.

Forget that it was based on a survey of households in Iraq, not a body count. Basically, they went door-to-door and said, "Bring out your dead." But let's us, just for the sake of argument, disagree with the president and take this number at face value. Let's just assume that number is true.

This leads us right into the second number I gave you a couple of minutes ago, 69. Sixty-nine is the percentage of the 655,000 Iraqi civilians who did not die at the hands of American soldiers. That leaves 451,950 Iraqis who were killed by someone else other than Americans.

Gee, who else is killing people over there? This number leads me to believe that the Iraqis would be saying, "Good God, Americans, please don't leave us now. We're surrounded by people trying to kill us."

The third number, 11,687 [sic], that is the number the Dow Jones closed at yesterday. That number is the highest ever, and the fourth time the Dow broke the all-time high in the last two weeks. Don't you always hear people saying, "People vote with their pocketbooks" or my favorite, "It's the economy, stupid."

Well, how come nobody's saying that this time around, with the election only two weeks away? Ha! What a surprise.

The fourth number, 248 billion, that's the one you will be hearing a lot about. That is our budget deficit, $248 billion.

What you won't be hearing is the number 22.3. Our budget deficit has actually shrunk by 22.3 percent since last year. Well, how is that possible? Well, more numbers you're not going to hear about.

Revenues are at an all-time high, which means that, by cutting taxes, we've actually grown the economy and are getting more tax revenue. Gee, I was told by the liberals in the media that that sort of thing just doesn't happen. Well, it just has, America.

The reason you're not hearing it is because the liberal left would then have to accept this as fact, and then they'd have to shift their argument. They'd have to tell you what they really have been trying to do the whole time. They would no longer be able to say, "We can't afford these tax cuts" because we can, clearly. They'd have to make a case for the real plan, redistributing wealth. That's what they really want to do.

Go ahead, make the argument for that. But they can't, because they'd have to say things like, well, it's for social programs. But socialism isn't a real destination. Socialism is a middle step between capitalism and communism. Look it up in the dictionary. I did. It'll blow your mind. Good luck selling that to the American people.

This all leads me to a question: Is the media truly not biased, or does it have an agenda? I've got to say, it seems like the agenda thing is working right now. Four weeks before an election, why else would you have to go to a yahoo like me to get the real story behind these numbers?

So here's what I know tonight: Numbers are an amazing game. To say that we have caused 655,000 deaths in Iraq, wow, that's like saying Americans killed 10 million people in World War II, even though six million of those died in concentration camps at the hands of Adolph Hitler.

I also know the economy is in fine shape. We're spending like Paris Hilton in a (expletive deleted) house, but, hey, it's fine. Why is it that when the economy is weak, it's all you hear about? But when it's strong, like it is now, oh, it's invisible, especially when a Republican's in charge?

You remember when the Dow was breaking all the records when Bill Clinton was in charge? That's all they could talk about.

Network/Outlet
CNN, CNN Headline News
Person
Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck show
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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