Glenn Beck sat down with the New York Times Magazine for an interview about his plans for a new media empire, and did what he usually does when talking to mainstream press outlets: he dropped his flamethrowing, end-times routine and adopted the posture of an ambitious, misunderstood entrepreneur. Beck wants to reach a larger audience and doesn't want to freak out Times readers, so when the Times asked him about the political focus of his show, Beck tried to come off as reasonable. "What people don't ever understand is this: I'm the guy who lives in Dallas who did not get an invitation to the George Bush Presidential Library opening," Beck said. "He didn't like me. I had called for his impeachment. I didn't call for Obama's impeachment. People think I just hate this president. No, I hate power and those who do everything they can to hold onto it."
It's simply not true that Beck "didn't call for Obama's impeachment." Back in May, as the political media were obsessing over Benghazi hearings and the since-deflated IRS scandal, Beck called for a special counsel to be appointed to "explore the impeachment of this president." In April, after Beck led the reprehensible effort to link an innocent Saudi man to the Boston marathon bombings, Beck said that Americans should "demand impeachment" because, in his view, the government was covering up the Saudi's non-existent role in the attack. If Americans didn't do so, Beck said, "we don't stand a chance."
At a Tea Party rally in June at the Capitol, Beck was asked about impeachment, and he said that impeaching Obama wouldn't go far enough. "If they can take it to impeachment -- I personally think there's a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who shouldn't be impeached, they should go to jail," Beck said. Asked if Obama was one of them, Beck replied: "Yeah."
Again, this is the Beck routine. When he's talking to his usual audience or the Tea Party faithful, he's calling for impeachment and inveighing against progressives with the most inflammatory language he can muster. When he's talking to The New York Times, he says things like this:
Can we stop dividing ourselves? Do racists exist? Yes. Do bigots exist? Yes. But most of us are not. Most Americans just want to get along. Why can't we do that? What has happened to us?
Funnily enough, the Times interviewer later asked Beck about his commitment to "hunt down progressives like an Israeli Nazi hunter," and Beck -- mere moments after bemoaning the instinct to "divide ourselves" -- briefly reverted to type: "Oh, I will. I think these guys are the biggest danger in the world. It's the people like Mao, people that believe that big government is the answer, it always leads to millions dead -- always."
Stansberry & Associates, an investment research firm catering to right-wing audiences' fears of President Barack Obama, has been fined $1.5 million for engaging in "deliberate fraud" and profiting from "false statements." Despite its shoddy history, numerous conservative outlets and personalities including Newt Gingrich, Fox Business, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, Alex Jones, WND, and The Washington Times, have helped legitimize the firm and its wild investment schemes. The firm has also enlisted the help of former Fox News contributor Dick Morris, who has frequently promoted the firm in sponsored video pitches.
Stansberry & Associates was founded in 1999 by Porter Stansberry and claims to have "been predicting the most promising emerging trends and the most influential economic forces affecting the market - with uncanny accuracy - for the past 13 years." Stansberry advertises its services to right-wing audiences with attacks on President Obama and warnings about a forthcoming apocalyptic type collapse of the American government and financial system. Stansberry emails carry subject lines like, "A Survival Secret That Could Save Your Life."
In 2007, Stansberry and his firm -- then called Pirate Investor LLC -- were ordered by a district court to pay $1.5 million in restitution and civil penalties as a result of a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint. As reported by the Baltimore Sun, Stansberry was accused of "disseminating false stock information and defrauding public investors through a financial newsletter ... They claimed investors could double their money if they paid $1,000 for a stock tip involving Bethesda energy company USEC Inc. In total, 1,217 people purchased the report, although 215 of them got their money back after complaining."
A judge in 2007 ruled that Stansberry's activity "undoubtedly involved deliberate fraud" and "making statements that he knew to be false." An appeals court later found that "it would take an act of willful blindness to ignore the fact that Appellants profited from the false statements." Stansberry's defense of his actions can be found here, and a group of publishers, including The New York Times ("The Right to Be Wrong"), defended Stansberry's case on First Amendment grounds.
The Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General announced on September 12, 2011, that Stansberry & Associates "agreed to pay a $55,000 civil monetary penalty to the Social Security Administration" for violating the Social Security Act. The firm settled the case by paying the fine while not admitting a violation. SSA's complaint alleged that Stansberry advertised it services by claiming to have information from "insiders" on how to increase your Social Security check, and "the SSA OIG believed that the characterization of Stansberry's SSA contacts as 'insiders' falsely implied that the information was not available to the public. The claimed 'insider' information was, in fact, available to anyone upon request."
Former Fox News host Glenn Beck once declared "Do I believe scientists? No. They've lied to us about global warming." But the study, by the Yale Project on Climate Communication, concludes that it's actually the other way around: conservative media consumers don't believe in scientists, therefore they don't believe in global warming.
The study suggests that watching and listening to outlets like Fox News and The Rush Limbaugh Show may be one reason that only 19 percent of Republicans agree that human activity is causing global warming, despite the consensus of 97 percent of climate scientists. The Yale researchers depicted five tactics used by conservative media to erode trust in scientists, which Media Matters illustrates with examples.
Conservative media typically turn to a roster of professional climate change contrarians and portray them as "experts" on the issue. What they don't mention is that most of these climate "experts" don't have a background in climate science and are often on the bankroll of the fossil fuel industry.
A Media Matters study detailed how certain climate contrarians have been given a large platform by the media, particularly Fox News.
For instance, Fox News cut away from President Barack Obama's recent climate change speech to host Chris Horner of the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute -- giving approximately equal time to Horner and the president.
Fox dumped Glenn Beck after his bizarre conspiracy theories and rhetoric reportedly caused the network's advertisers to balk. Now Fox appears to be clinging to one of his classic distortions, characterizing a government effort utilizing behavioral psychology to reduce fraud, error and debt as "mind control."
FoxNews.com reported that it obtained a document outlining plans for the government to hire a "Behavioral Insights Team" that "will look for ways to subtly influence people's behavior." The United Kingdom has implemented several related initiatives. In one instance the U.K. government sent out reminder letters to late taxpayers, leading to increased tax revenue.
The ideas behind this type of initiative were laid out in Professor Cass Sunstein's book, Nudge. When Sunstein joined the Obama administration as the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Beck launched a campaign to demonize him and his ideas.
As House Republicans try to slash funding for research and development of new energy technologies, conservative figures who once proclaimed their support for such initiatives have been curiously silent.
Buoyed by Republican lawmakers, the House recently passed a spending bill that cuts funding for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the key federal program that invests in research and development of new energy technologies, by 81 percent. ARPA-E is a bipartisan Bush-era creation modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which spurred breakthroughs like the internet and stealth fighter. Now, even a midpoint reconciliation with the more generous Senate spending bill could leave funding for the program in tatters.
These cuts are an extreme departure from the rare interparty comity that has typically surrounded research and development for alternative energy. Indeed, conservative media figures have frequently embraced such efforts -- as opposed to programs that award loans to address the so-called "valley of death" between development and commercialization -- echoing the pro-ARPA-E views of free-market groups and some Republican leaders. Among the latter was former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who supported increasing funding. But with ARPA-E now in trouble, these figures appear tongue-tied.
Glenn Beck wants to change the face of American culture, and he plans to do so by trying to downplay his role in the stage shows and movies he hopes to roll out in the coming years through his new production company, American Dream Labs.
Beck detailed his plans to an audience of VIP ticketholders at a July 5 "Beck Unplugged" event leading up to his "Man in the Moon" spectacle, the first effort for his new company.
Over the course of the July 4-6 Man in the Moon holiday weekend, the radio and TV host explained that as part of his effort to turn society toward his own beliefs, he planned to begin moving into the entertainment space with stage shows, music, and movies, the first of which is slated for Christmas 2014.
Don't expect American Dream Labs' work to have the obviously ideological dynamic that inhabits Beck's past work. "One of the things that you'll see with the Man in the Moon is the Man in the Moon has been made for a different set of people," Beck told his "Unplugged" audience. "We have to stop preaching to the choir."
But because Beck realizes that his public persona is toxic to most Americans, he plans to make his message more subtle and downplay his involvement. Beck explained that he doesn't "even want my name on my books anymore," and had asked Man in the Moon's engineers to ensure that the Moon, which Beck plays in the show, didn't resemble him. (This doesn't quite square with the fact that Beck himself plays a major role in the show.)
"My name has been good for you guys but bad for the bigger populace," he said. The next stage in Beck's attempted climb to cultural supremacy will depend on whether the "bigger populace" sees Beck's face in his works.
BECK: One of the things that you'll see with the Man in the Moon is the Man in the Moon has been made for a different set of people. We have to stop preaching to the choir. You guys are going to love it, but if it was any other face but mine, and this is the thing that I really wrestled with, and I don't even want my name on my books anymore. First of all, I usually come up with the story and others write it, but my name has been good for you guys but bad for the bigger populace. I play the Moon in this, and when they came to me with the prosthetics they said, "what do you want the moon to look like," and I said, "just not me." You don't want me to look like me at all. We are going in a different direction to where we're trying to do music and entertainment. We're going to start hopefully this year for Christmas 2014, for movies. That's why I'm building the American Dream Labs, to try to get into the entertainment space as well. News is one thing, but news and elections are the last stop. Culture and entertainment are the first stop.
Alexander Zaitchik contributed reporting for this story.
Last week in Salt Lake City, Glenn Beck hosted a three-day extravaganza featuring a spectacle-laden stage show, a history museum, speeches and presentations from prominent conservative figures, and a large exhibit hall. Below are scenes from Glenn Beck's latest get-together. First featured are scenes from the exhibit area maintained by the Beck-linked charity Mercury One. Following that are scenes from the main event, "Man in the Moon."
The Blaze Radio was broadcasting:
Lines for a meet and greet with Beck:
The official Man in the Moon store:
Beck's books were also on sale:
Other merchandise available at the event and scenes from Man In The Moon after the jump.
"There's a sucker born every minute."
-- Glenn Beck, Salt Lake City, July 6
SALT LAKE CITY -- The double rainbow arching directly over the outdoor stage could only mean one thing: God was smiling on Glenn Beck. Two hours after monsoon-like rains drenched and darkened Salt Lake Valley, and with weather reports still threatening an even chance of thunderstorms, Beck's fans celebrated the divine thumbs-ups in the clouds. As soon as the rainbows appeared, sounds of prayerful thanks rippled through the USANA amphitheater, a modest venue on the city's western outskirts. "It's God's message," said a woman in a raincoat fashioned from a garbage bag. "I just knew He wouldn't let tonight get washed out."
He did not. Aside from a few light sprinkles early in the unusually cool July 6 night, "Man in the Moon," the inaugural event of Beck's new entertainment company, American Dream Labs, went off without a hitch. This included the execution of a high-wire upside-down flag folding ceremony that had failed repeatedly in rehearsal. After much internal debate, Beck finally green-lit the risky act after getting the meteorological message from his Number One Fan. "When I saw the double rainbow, I thought, 'Let's go for it,'" Beck told the crowd to cheers.
As with Beck's last three summer gatherings, conservatism's least predictable impresario promoted "Man in the Moon" as an historic turning point in the American saga. Like other Beck-identified turning points, this one came with a merch table and all the lean marketing muscle of a major-market NFL franchise. Sixteen thousand people from around the country, including Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens,answered Beck's call to support his stage and video experiment, buying tickets in a tiered system that spiked out at $1,500 VIP passes. Gold and Platinum tickets included premium seating and parking, a signed poster, and a 10 second meet-and-greet photo op with Beck.
Not included in the ticket price was access to three days of lectures and seminars at the Grand America Hotel. Those passes to talks by leading conservative authors and activists like Fox's Michelle Malkin and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) cost extra, the proceeds going to the Beck-affiliated charity, Mercury One. The morning of the main event, that non-profit helped raise money for the charity of businessman Jon Huntsman Sr., a long-time Beck ally and the father of the former Utah governor and presidential candidate. FreedomWorks, which pays Beck one million dollars a year for fundraising and media support, functioned as an unofficial co-sponsor of "Man in the Moon." The night before Beck's show, theright-wing advocacy group hosted a "Free the People" event at the USANA amphitheater.
But nobody traveled to Salt Lake to hear FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe give his flat freedom rap, or listen to Rafael Cruz, father of Senator Ted, compare Barack Obama to Fidel Castro. The draw in Utah was the final night's premiere of Beck's latest creation, "Man in the Moon." Tonight was not about restoring another vague concept like Honor or Courage, but celebrating the launch of Beck's new production company. As the sun set on the Wasatch mountain range, Beck described American Dream Labs' first offering as opening a new front in his media war to right and rescue the republic.
This is the front of popular culture. The Blaze octopus (web, TV, soon a radio network) would continue to base Beck's brand as a force in news and opinion; two years after losing his Fox gig in the wake of a years-long advertiser boycott, he is now attempting, with some early success, to muscle his way back into cable on his own terms. The Dream Labs, meanwhile, would function more like a faceless corporate movie studio, with Beck deliberately lowering his profile in the interests of growth.
"Our culture has gone off the rails," Beck told the sold-out amphitheater crowd. "And nobody on our side has done anything about it -- until tonight."
Glenn Beck launched a sordid smear campaign against Teresa Heinz Kerry, the hospitalized wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing her and the State Department of orchestrating her medical scare to divert public attention away from reports about the whereabouts of her husband during Egypt's most recent transition of power. In a pair of cheap shots on his radio program and web show, Beck speculated that Heinz Kerry is lying and drew an institutional connection between what he baselessly suggests is Heinz Kerry's fake injury and the 2012 concussion suffered by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which Beck referred to at the time as a "scam."
On July 3, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was deposed by the country's military leaders amidst popular protests. That same day, CBS reported that one of its producers had spotted Secretary Kerry aboard a yacht in the Nantucket Boat Basin. The State Department denied the allegations, and noted that Kerry was "working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt."
Four days later on July 7, 74-year-old Heinz Kerry, Kerry's wife, was hospitalized with symptoms of a seizure that left her in critical condition. Doctors upgraded her condition to "fair" on Monday morning.
On his radio show, Beck compared Heinz Kerry's hospitalization to that of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a blood clot, which he suggested was orchestrated to distract the press from the Benghazi attacks. Beck called the State Department's denial of Kerry's whereabouts a "huge scandal" and wondered if Heinz Kerry's injury -- which took place four days after Morsi's ouster -- was also orchestrated as a distraction, asking "You expect me to believe that Mrs. Ketchup is in critical condition? I mean, no offense, maybe she is." Beck then compared Heinz Kerry's medical scare to Clinton's in 2012, wondering of Clinton's treatment, "Was that just a scam?"
Beck repeated his accusation on his web show, saying of Clinton's hospitalization and treatment, "I didn't believe that. That was to get out of Benghazi." He equated this with Heinz Kerry, adding:
BECK: I mean, I wish Teresa Heinz Kerry the best. But I find it fascinating that she is in critical condition this weekend after the State Department was caught in a lie. The same day the State Department is caught in a massive, massive lie, the same the press is no longer asking anybody about that, because Teresa Heinz is now in the hospital. So, you can't ask any tough questions. This government has zero credibility.
Beck has a history of capitalizing on his media presence to lob attacks against powerful women during their most vulnerable moments. In December, when Clinton first sustained a concussion, Beck ridiculed her and asked whether Clinton's injury was a "scam," claiming, "She shouldn't be President of the United States if she's going into the hospital for some sort of heart condition or brain condition or whatever she was in the hospital for."
Other right-wing media figures joined in mocking Clinton's injury. Several pundits on Fox News Channel accused Clinton of faking her injury in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
For the past several summers Glenn Beck has held massive events that, depending on your perspective, are either gatherings of epic historical significance or yearly reminders of Beck's inflated sense of self-importance.
Continuing the tradition, this July 4 holiday weekend Beck has been hosting "Man in the Moon" in Salt Lake City, Utah, featuring as its central event tonight an ambitious stage show retelling the history of America. The performance will apparently feature a 35-foot replica of the moon, original music, giant robots, and a Cirque du Soleil-esque wire act.
In coordination with Man in the Moon, the Beck-affiliated charity Mercury One has been selling tickets for what is in effect a miniature, fringe version of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference -- a series of 18 speeches, four panels, museum tours, and other events taking place over the course of the weekend starring a range of conservative figures, including Republican elected officials like Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart. (Though Beck's wife sits on the board of Mercury One, the organization writes on their website that Beck himself "has no official position" with the group, despite serving as their "greatest advocate and spokesperson.")
Prices for the events range from free book signings with conservative stalwarts like Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin to a $1,000 Beck-guided tour of a special museum collection put together for the event featuring items like "George Washington's original Badge of Merit" and "Joseph Smith's exquisite gold pocket watch."
According to Beck's The Blaze website, Man in the Moon follows in the footsteps of his previous summer events, which were designed to "empower everyday Americans to stand up and reach their full potential--and by extension restore America as a beacon of freedom and greatness to people all over the world."
Helping to set the expectations high is GBTV host Raj Nair, who tweeted after watching a preview of the Man in the Moon stage show that the performance represented "a new type of BRILLIANCE. More than a game changer, it will change the conversation completely."
That Beck and his team would promote Man in the Moon as a revolutionary spectacle is nothing new for them; hyperbole seems to be the main thread connecting these yearly events.
Beck promised his 2010 "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, DC, would represent an "American miracle" that would "be remembered in American history as the turning point." (Having repeatedly claimed active divine influence during the planning of the event, Beck later pointed to geese flying over the proceedings - which were held a few hundred yards from a body of water - as "God's flyover" and evidence of a "miracle.")
The next year, Beck touted his rally in Israel as a possible fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and "planet course-altering event" that was "not only going to change your life forever, it will change your family's life. And it will change the direction of the world."
While Man in the Moon may not end up changing the course of history, it certainly affords his followers the opportunity to deplete their bank accounts. Mercury One has posted a schedule of the holiday weekend's many events; based on that schedule, below are some of the people Beck faithful will be opening their wallets to see.
From the June 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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The Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The decision is sure to raise the ire of conservative media figures that have spent years railing against marriage equality.
Right-wing figures have warned that marriage equality could lead to legalized pedophilia, marriage between people and a wide range of animals, and the complete destruction of America.
Below is a list of 30 of conservatives' most offensive, bizzare, and outlandish arguments demonizing marriage equality, which Media Matters originally published in March.
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck ran to the defense of celebrity chef Paula Deen's right to use racial slurs without fear of being fired from her lucrative deals with the Food Network, QVC, and others. Deen came under fire after she admitted to using the racial slur on several occasions. Beck claimed her critics were engaging in "McCarthyism" and described Deen's words as "violations of political correctness, nothing more."
Deen is being sued by Lisa T. Jackson, a manager at Deen's restaurants in Georgia, over allegations of sexual and racial harassment. A deposition from the proceedings revealed that Deen repeatedly used racial slurs and other offensive language. From The Daily Beast:
In her testimony, Deen admits to using the N-word, reveals her ambivalence towards people watching pornography at a place of work, and--the arguably racist, definitely bizarre bit that's made headlines Wednesday--details the Southern plantation wedding of her dreams, in which black waiters serve guests slave-style.
In the aftermath of the deposition's release to the public, Deen issued a recorded apology. The Food Network announced that her contract will not be renewed, and QVC -- the home shopping network -- is reviewing their business relationship with Deen.
On his June 24 web show, Beck used the backlash against Deen as a platform to rant about what he believes is the active destruction of Constitutional principles, arguing that attacks on Deen over the content of her speech are symptomatic of the nation's decline. Remarkably, Beck invoked the name of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to defend Deen's use of racial slurs and attack the use of public boycotts -- a tactic King and others utilized to great effect during the civil rights movement.
Glenn Beck announced on his website The Blaze that he will be attending a June 19 rally in Washington, D.C. to oppose the Senate's immigration reform bill and to "stand against amnesty." In a segment titled "Why is Glenn going to DC?" Beck claimed that the bill would pit "amnesty over security," culminating weeks of inflammatory rhetoric directed at the bill and its supporters:
Glenn Beck's new novel, The Eye Of Moloch (A Thriller), gives the reader plenty to think about.
One could dwell at length about how poorly written The Eye Of Moloch is. This incomprehensible disaster is the story of a Tea Party-like group of freedom fighters called, amusingly, the Founders' Keepers and their efforts to save America from an evil PR firm that is trying to frame these patriotic heroes for an act of terrorism that will tip the country towards chaos. The plot is poached without shame from its predecessor, The Overton Window, which saw the Founders' Keepers framed by the same PR firm for setting off a nuclear bomb in Nevada. Why was it necessary to further discredit the Founders' Keepers when they've already had an act of nuclear terrorism successfully laid at their feet? Because Beck and his ghostwriters, demonstrating an active hostility towards continuity and logic, decided between novels that the gigantic nuclear explosion had actually been covered up somehow.
One could focus on how drearily dull The Eye Of Moloch is. Beck clearly took to heart the many reviews that complained of The Overton Window's lack of action and inserted some rote gun battles into the sequel, but The Eye Of Moloch is still often quite boring. One of the protagonists, Hollis, spends the first 40 pages or so dramatically fighting off paramilitary skinheads, and then passes the next 200 doing nothing on an isolated ranch in Wyoming. Noah Gardner, the protagonist from The Overton Window, is wounded in a battle in the opening pages of The Eye Of Moloch, and then spends half the book lying in a hospital bed and going to work. Oh the thrills! The reason these characters don't do much is that high-speed chases and daring acts of espionage don't allow for the long limited-government homilies that stand in for dialogue and stretch out this tiresome slog to a punishing 400 pages.
The lack of action is a shame because Beck and his crew of ghost novelists created a number of characters who were constantly on the verge of being interesting. Beck introduces a government agent with one leg, but her disability never presents her with any obstacles to overcome. At the end of The Overton Window, Noah found himself in a torture session presided over by his own father. That's a bizarre emotional dynamic that, in the hands of a capable writer, could be explored to great effect. The Eye Of Moloch, however, gives us just one interaction between father and son, during which Noah snips at the man who physically tortured him: "Your apology is so unbelievably not accepted."
Instead we get characters who behave incomprehensibly as they stumble from one cliché to the next. Noah's father, the villain from The Overton Window, experiences a change of heart because of a terminal cancer diagnosis and meets his end after being pushed down an elevator shaft. The Eye Of Moloch's villain is a 132-year-old man (not a typo) who is overfond of grandiloquent declarations of his nefarious intent. Here's an actual line of dialogue from the maleficent supercentenarian: "Now then, before we enjoy our brunch, let us discuss how we shall finally bring the brief and teetering empire of the United States of America to an unceremonious close." That's pretty evil, even without factoring in the subtler evil of making his associate wait to enjoy what probably was a pretty good brunch.