Glenn Beck apologized for his attack on President Obama's daughter by stating that he hopes it represents his "bottom." But Beck's attack was hardly out of character, as he has frequently resorted to vicious personal attacks against his perceived enemies and their families.
Beck on attack on President Obama's daughter: "I hope that's my bottom"
Beck adds, "I asked myself, how could it have happened?" On the June 1 edition of his Fox News program, Beck addressed comments he made on his May 28 radio show attacking President Obama's 11-year old daughter. After falsely claiming that he has "never" before dragged "someone's family into the debate," Beck said that he hoped the attack is "my bottom. All Friday, I asked myself, how could it have happened?"
Beck has a long history of resorting to "vicious personal assaults"
Beck reportedly ridiculed rival's wife for having a miscarriage. Salon.com's Alexander Zaitchik quoted a former Beck colleague describing an incident in which Beck was outraged over a rival radio host criticizing a Beck gag. Beck reportedly responded by calling the rival host's wife on air and ridiculing her for having a miscarriage:
The animosity between Beck and Kelly continued to deepen. When Beck and Hattrick produced a local version of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" for Halloween -- a recurring motif in Beck's life and career -- Kelly told a local reporter that the bit was a stupid rip-off of a syndicated gag. The slight outraged Beck, who got his revenge with what may rank as one of the cruelest bits in the history of morning radio. "A couple days after Kelly's wife, Terry, had a miscarriage, Beck called her live on the air and says, 'We hear you had a miscarriage,' " remembers Brad Miller, a former Y95 DJ and Clear Channel programmer. "When Terry said, 'Yes,' Beck proceeded to joke about how Bruce [Kelly] apparently can't do anything right -- about he can't even have a baby."
"It was low class," says Miller, now president of Open Stream Broadcasting. "There are certain places you just don't go."
"Beck turned Y95 into a guerrilla station," says Kelly. "It was an example of the zoo thing getting out of control. It became just about pissing people off, part of the culture shift that gave us 'Jackass.'" Among those who were appalled by Beck's prank call was Beck's own wife, Claire, who had been friends with Kelly's wife since the two worked together at WPGC.
Beck reportedly called Michael Schiavo a "murderer" who sired two "bastard" children. According to Zaitchik, as documented in his book Common Nonsense, Beck originally "sided with Michael Schiavo" during the Terry Schiavo controversy, going so far as to make "light of Terry's condition." Zaitchik wrote that Beck eventually turned on Michael Schiavo and declared him a "murderer" who had sired two "bastard" children. From Common Nonsense (Pages 72-73):
Shortly before Beck arrived at WFLA in January 2000, the Schiavo story had received a boost when Michael Schiavo took his petition to the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida. During Beck's first year on the air, before finding his conservative voice, Beck not only sided with Michael Schiavo but actually made light of Terry's condition. Years later, Beck would describe a Schiavo-themed gag he had produced as "probably the most insensitive bit of all time."
In the early spring of 2001, Michael Schiavo succeeded in his efforts to have the feeding tube removed. By then, Beck had become a partisan. This time he sided forcefully with Terry Schiavo's parents. "After the recount, Beck felt an obligation to do a more serious conservative show," says a former colleague. "Schiavo was an early test."
Beck's idea of doing a serious show involved broadcasting live near Schiavo's hospital bed. He dove into a media circus that included everything from protesting biblical jugglers on unicycles to satellite vans from the major networks. Beck hosted Schiavo's parents on his show and sharpened his personal attacks on Michael Schiavo. Terry's husband, he declared, was a "murderer" who had remarried and sired two young "bastard" children.
Beck's local nemesis on the issue was a liberal Tampa Tribune columnist named Daniel Ruth. Ruth hosted a Saturday afternoon talk show on Beck's station, WFLA. As so often happens with Beck, what began as a political disagreement soon turned viciously personal. Beck accused both Daniel Ruth and Michael Schiavo of "attempted murder." During one show, Beck suggested that he'd like to "murder" Ruth in response to his columns. Beck even gave out Ruth's personal phone number, office address, and e-mail address on the air.
Beck mocked Obama daughters' "level of education." As previously noted, on the May 28 edition of his radio program, Beck mocked President Obama's daughters during an exchange with co-host Pat Gray:
BECK: (laughing) This is such a ridiculous -- this is such a ridiculous thing that his daughter -- (imitating Malia) Daddy?
GRAY: It's so stupid.
BECK: How old is his daughter? Like, 13?
GRAY: Well, one of them's, I think, 13, one's 11, or something.
BECK: "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" Is that's their -- that's the level of their education, that they're coming to -- they're coming to daddy and saying 'Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?' " Plug the hole!
Beck mocked Obama's aunt's limp. During the April 2, 2009, edition of his Fox News show, Beck discussed Obama's aunt's visa status and stated, "Obama's aunt, you know -- and I took this cane from her earlier. I -- it's like little Tiny Tim. Oh, I'd like more, please, please. God bless us, every one.' She has a limp, didn't you know that? She should be able to stay."
Beck listed people he'd like to "beat to death with a shovel." As documented by Daily Kos' Jed Lewison, during the March 9, 2001, edition of his radio program, Beck enumerated the various people he'd "like to beat to death with a shovel," including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). During the show, Beck also said: "How many people have I said, 'Let's kill with a shovel, huh?' How many people have I said, 'Let's line 'em up and shoot 'em in the head?' I think quite a few."
Beck attacked Katrina victims as "scumbags," adding: "I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims." On the September 9, 2005, broadcast of his radio program, Beck stated of Hurricane Katrina victims who remained in New Orleans: "And that's all we're hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones that we're seeing on television are the scumbags -- and again, it's not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It's just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they're getting all the attention."
Beck also stated: "[T]his is horrible to say, and I wonder if I'm alone in this -- you know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year. And I had such compassion for them, and I really wanted to help them, and I was behind, you know, 'Let's give them money, let's get this started.' All of this stuff. And I really didn't -- of the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them. Probably about 10 of them. And when I see a 9-11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up!' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them. And, again, it's only about 10."
Beck's radio station reportedly apologized for Beck and sidekick Pat Gray "mocking Asians." As reported by the Hartford Courant on October, 20, 1995, the New Haven-based radio station WKCI-FM, which employed Beck, apologized for "broadcasting a sketch that offended Asian Americans and for ridiculing a man who called to complain":
Under pressure from activist groups, a New Haven-area radio station agreed Thursday to apologize for broadcasting a sketch that offended Asian Americans and for ridiculing a man who called to complain.
The agreement with New Haven- based WKCI-FM was called an important victory by a coalition of four Asian-American groups, which represent one of Connecticut's smallest but quickly growing ethnic groups.
The negotiations between the station and the groups began as the result of a call to the station in August from Zhihan Tong, a 28-year- old computer network technician.
Tong was driving from his New Haven-area home to his job in Danbury when he tuned in to the station, commonly known as KC101, for a traffic report.
Instead, he heard Alf Papineau, the morning show's executive producer, pretending to speak Chinese to a bewildered Asian-American owner of a Chinese restaurant supposedly for sale. The piece was a canned segment. Neither the restaurant nor the owner was real; they existed only as taped dialogue from a comedy service subscribed to by the station.
When Tong telephoned WKCI- FM to protest the broadcast as a racial slur, disc jockeys Glenn Beck and Pat Grey made fun of him. The two played a gong in the background several times, and Papineau, the executive producer, mocked a Chinese accent.
Beck reportedly resorted to "vicious personal assaults" on overweight rival host in Louisville. Reporting on Beck's "vicious personal assaults on fellow radio hosts," Zaitchik quoted a colleague of a former Beck rival discussing Beck's "exceedingly cruel, pointless" "fat jokes" aimed at rival host Liz Curtis:
Beck's real broadcasting innovation during his stay in Kentucky came in the realm of vicious personal assaults on fellow radio hosts. A frequent target of Beck's in Louisville was Liz Curtis, obese host of an afternoon advice show on WHAS, a local AM news-talk station. It was no secret in Louisville that Curtis, whom Beck had never met and with whom he did not compete for ratings, was overweight. And Beck never let anyone forget it. For two years, he used "the big blonde" as fodder for drive-time fat jokes, often employing Godzilla sound effects to simulate Curtis walking across the city or crushing a rocking chair. Days before Curtis' marriage, Beck penned a skit featuring a stolen menu card for the wedding reception. "The caterer says that instead of throwing rice after the ceremony, they are going to throw hot, buttered popcorn," explains Beck's fictional spy.
Despite the constant goading, Curtis never responded. But being ignored only seemed to fuel Beck's hunger for a response. As his attacks escalated and grew more unhinged, a WHAS colleague of Curtis' named Terry Meiners decided to intervene. He appeared one morning unannounced at Beck's small office, which was filled with plaques, letters and news clippings -- "a shrine to all that is Glenn Beck," remembers Meiners. He told Beck to lay off Curtis, suggesting he instead attack a morning DJ like himself, who could return fire. "Beck told me, 'Sorry, all's fair in love and war,'" remembers Meiners. "He continued with the fat jokes, which were exceedingly cruel, pointless, and aimed at one of the nicest people in radio. Glenn Beck was over-the-top childish from Day One, a punk who tried to make a name for himself by being disruptive and vengeful."
Beck talked about "put[ting] poison" in Pelosi's wine. On the August 6, 2009, edition of this Fox News show, Beck stated:
BECK: So, Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Are you blind? Do those eyes not work? There you -- I want you to drink it now. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it.
I really just wanted to thank you for having me over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought I had to be a major Democratic donor or a longtime friend of yours, which I'm not.
By the way, I put poison in your -- no, I -- I look forward to all the policy discussions that we're supposed to have -- you know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy.
Beck on Hillary Clinton: "She's the stereotypical bitch." On the March 17, 2007, edition of his radio program, Beck claimed that "Hillary Clinton cannot be elected president because ... there's something about her vocal range." Beck went on to comment that "she's the stereotypical bitch, you know what I mean?"
Beck mimed Hillary Clinton shaving her face. On the December 17, 2007, edition of his CNN Headline News show, after the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner referenced senators "who see a president in the mirror when they shave in the morning," Beck asked: "OK. Does that include Hillary? Does she shave? ... Does that include Hillary? Does she -- I mean, she -- she shaves her legs. I'm just saying." After Horner said, "Now who's being naïve?" Beck -- while jutting out his lower jaw and miming shaving his face -- said: "I can see her in there. 'Gimme a pack of Kool cigarettes, will ya?' "