Glenn Beck has accepted the corporate-backed right-wing organization FreedomWorks as a sponsor of his radio show and has urged his listeners to "link arms" with the group. FreedomWorks has responded by highlighting Beck's praise and using that praise to raise funds from Beck's listeners.
Beck touts FreedomWorks' "organizational power," directs listeners to its website
Beck: "I want you to go to Freedomworks.org, because freedom works." On the April 17 edition of his radio show, Beck said:
BECK: The sponsor of this half hour is FreedomWorks. I have to tell you, I had a hard -- this was a hard decision for me to take on FreedomWorks, and here's why: because I don't want to send the message to you that the way to restore our republic is through the political process only. And I was afraid that you would hear "FreedomWorks" and you would say, "Well, wait a minute, what does that mean? OK, we got to get on the tea party bandwagon." I think you do. I think you do. I think you need to get onto every bandwagon you can get onto right now."
I want to send you the message that FreedomWorks is the only -- and we've looked -- is the only organization that we have seen that really truly has the organizational power -- the other one is, like, the NRA is also like this. They have the infrastructure, they have the organizational power, they have the ability to be able to get information to people quickly, en masse.
And we must, must, must link arms with people. Everybody plays a different role. My message to you is to shore yourself up personally with history, with faith, and with your own personal finances. That is my course that I am charting. I've got to move away from the political stuff. That's what kept me up last night. But political stuff has got to be done. You have to pay attention.
There are things that are happening in Washington you have to know about. We need the Tea Party protests to continue. We need to organize and reach out to each other. So I want you to go to Freedomworks.org, because freedom works.
FreedomWorks subsequently posted Beck's comments to YouTube with the headline, "Glenn Beck partners with FreedomWorks."
FreedomWorks issues "Special offer for Glenn Beck listeners," uses Beck to fundraise
FreedomWorks offers Beck listeners "FREE Take America Back Action Kit." The landing page for freedomworks.org features a "Special offer for Glenn Beck listeners," which states that those who become FreedomWorks members will receive a "FREE Take America Back! Action Kit featuring a special DVD video laying out FreedomWorks' masterplan to mobilize freedom-loving Americans to save our great country." The offer is illustrated with a picture of Beck in front of a chalkboard.
FreedomWorks uses Beck endorsement to raise money. Those who submit their information to FreedomWorks to receive the offer are forwarded to a FreedomWorks web page which states that "It's crucial that you step above and beyond being just a Tea Party participant and take the lead by becoming a FreedomWorks Sponsoring Member today." The page urges readers to consider chipping in $20.10 to become a Sponsoring Member." The page features an image of Beck over the quote, "FreedomWorks is the best in the business at grassroots organizing."
Front page of FreedomWorks website urges readers to "Partner with Beck." The front page of FreedomWorks' website features the following graphic:
FreedomWorks now a Glenn Beck sponsor
Beck reads FreedomWorks ads on-air. Beck regularly notes that a specific half-hour of his radio broadcast is "sponsored by FreedomWorks," then reads a FreedomWorks ad on-air. In one such ad, Beck said that "I don't want you to do anything that brings you into line with progressives, but I want you to look for people that have some structure and some framework that can move and motivate a lot of people and can keep you connected. FreedomWorks has that infrastructure."
FreedomWorks ads mirror Beck's own commentary. For example, promoting FreedomWorks on the June 11 edition of his radio program, Beck stated that "you're not a tea party goer, you're a civil rights activist, you're a human rights activist. We are the people that can pick up and finish the job Martin Luther King started." He added that "now is the time that we need to organize, and FreedomWorks has that organization." He concluded by telling his listeners to go to the FreedomWorks website to "see their plan and link arms as we cross a bridge together," a reference to the civil rights activists who attempted to march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 and were attacked by police after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Beck has frequently invoked King and civil rights imagery in describing himself and his followers.
FreedomWorks organized 9/12 "March on Washington" endorsed by Beck
9/12 protest reportedly "set in motion" by FreedomWorks, pushed by Beck. On October 5, 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported:
The Sept. 12 Washington protest was set in motion earlier in 2009 when FreedomWorks officials applied for a march permit, choosing the date because it followed Congress's return from recess, according to Mr. Brandon.
Glenn Beck, the Fox News television commentator, seized on the date -- the day after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks -- as a symbol of what he called national unity and began promoting 9/12 demonstrations. (Fox is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.)
Likewise, on September 12, Politico reported of the rally:
Adam Brandon, a FreedomWorks spokesman, said the organization had begun planning for today's event in March. Glenn Beck, the conservative talk show host, also rallied his listeners in recent weeks, urging them to make the trek to Washington in a show of force against Obama.
Beck's 9-12 project helped organize project. As Media Matters documented, The 9-12 Project, which Beck founded, worked with FreedomWorks and others in organizing the protest. Beck himself participated in the protest by broadcasting live from 1 to 3 p.m. ET on Fox News.
Beck: "On 9-12, I hope to see you in Washington. I will make sure you're seen all over the country." On August 28, 2009, Beck described the 9-12 Project's "March on Washington" as something "worth standing up for" and told viewers, "I hope to see you in Washington. I will make sure you're seen all over the country."
Protesters said they watch Beck and Fox News. In a September 15, 2009, video titled "Brought To You By Fox," Media Matters documented numerous 9-12 protesters crediting Beck and Fox News with providing "fair and balanced" coverage.
FreedomWorks: Corporate-funded group led by former GOP majority leader Armey
FreedomWorks heavily funded by major corporations and right-wing foundations. According to The Washington Post, the "major financial backers" of FreedomWorks and one of the groups that merged to form it, Citizens for a Sound Economy, have "included MetLife, Philip Morris and foundations controlled by the archconservative Scaife family, according to tax filings and other records." Likewise, Common Cause reports that "FreedomWorks has accepted corporate contributions from telephone giants Verizon and SBC (now AT&T)." According to Media Matters Action Network's compilation of IRS data, FreedomWorks and the groups which merged to form it have received $275,250 from Exxon Mobil Corporation, as well as more than $12 million from foundations controlled by the co-owners of oil giant Koch Industries.
FreedomWorks chairman Armey a former House majority leader and corporate lobbyist. Dick Armey, the chairman of FreedomWorks, served as a Republican congressman from Texas from 1985 to 2003 and as House majority leader from 1995 to 2003. In August 2009, Armey resigned from the law firm DLA Piper, where according to the Lobbying Disclosure Act Database he had lobbied for numerous corporations, including Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, TransGas Energy, Raytheon Company, and Verizon Communications.