One year ago today, Glenn Beck called President Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Since those explosive comments, Beck has continued to use racially charged rhetoric while his colleagues at Fox News have defended him, even in the face of a growing advertiser boycott.
Beck calls the president a “racist,” is defended by Fox
July 28, 2009: Beck calls Obama a “racist” with a “deep seated hatred for white people.” Discussing Obama's response to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Beck asserts that Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” After being reminded that Obama has numerous white staffers, Beck contradicted himself, stating, “I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem,” before going on to state, “this guy is, I believe, a racist.” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 7/28/09]
Fox News VP quickly responds, says Beck expressed “his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel.” Bill Shine, Fox News' senior vice president of programming, responded to Beck's statement, telling TVNewser, “Glenn Beck expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel. And as with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions.” [TVNewser, 7/28/09]
The next day, Beck stands by his comments. On his radio show, Beck stated that he “stands by” his comments that Obama is a “racist,” adding, “I deem him a racist by his own standard, the standard of the left.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 7/29/09]
September 2009: Beck apologizes for “the way it was phrased,” but says he raised a “serious question.” In an interview that aired on the September 22, 2009, edition of CBSNews.com's @KatieCouric, asked whether he was “sorry” for calling Obama a racist, Beck apologized only for “the way it was phrased,” noting that “living in a soundbite world [is] really a nasty place to live.” Beck went on to say that whether Obama is a racist “is a serious question that I think needs serious discussion.”
November 6, 2009: Murdoch says Beck “was right.” In a November 6, 2009, interview with Sky News Australia political editor David Speers, Murdoch declared that while Beck “perhaps shouldn't have” made the comment, Beck was “right,” saying: “On the racist thing, that caused a [unintelligible]. But [Obama] did make a very racist comment, about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.”
Questioned by Media Matters, Murdoch appears to deny he had said Obama made a “racist” comment. On November 19, 2009, then-Media Matters for America staff member Ben Fishel asked Murdoch if he “could be more clear about what racist comments the president allegedly made.” Murdoch said: “I denied that absolutely. ... I don't believe he's a racist.” Murdoch did not respond when further pressed to explain his remarks.
January 31: Roger Ailes claims Beck said “one unfortunate thing,” and “he apologized for” it. During the January 31 edition of ABC's This Week, Ailes discussed Beck's comments and stated, “I don't -- I think he speaks English. I don't know, but I mean, I don't misinterpret any of his words. He did say one unfortunate thing, which he apologized for, but that happens in live television.” Ailes did not specify which of Beck's assertions he was referring to, but assuming that Ailes was referring to Beck's claim that Obama is “a racist,” the claim that Beck “apologized” for the remark is false. In fact, as noted above, Beck apologized only for “the way it was phrased.”
Hannity defends Beck: “Can one conclude that there are issues with the president, black liberation theology?” On the March 9 edition his Fox News' show, Hannity discussed Dan Rather's comment that Obama “couldn't sell watermelons if you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic.” Hannity stated that Beck has “never said anything over the top, like what Dan Rather said.” After guest Penny Lee brought up that Beck “called the president of the United States, almost -- referred to him as a racist,” Hannity defended Beck, saying: “But wait a minute. Wait, hang on a second. When the president hangs out with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years, I'm -- can one conclude that there are issues with the president, black liberation theology?”
Media condemned Beck's comments; ColorOfChange organized advertising boycott
Other media figures blast Beck's comments. Beck's remarks were been criticized by, among others, Joe Scarborough, Ron Christie, Jonathan Capehart, Donny Deutsch, Joan Walsh, Lois Romano, Chris Matthews, Mika Brzezinski, Mike Barnicle, Ed Schultz, Stephen A. Smith, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg.
Two days after Beck's remarks, ColorOfChange organized an advertising boycott of Beck's show. As The New York Times reported, “Two days later [after Beck's remarks], ColorOfChange asked its 600,000 members to sign a petition addressed to Mr. Beck's advertisers.” To date, at least 100 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Beck's Fox News program.
Over the past year, Beck has used practically any excuse for race-baiting
Beck's first reaction to Sherrod: “Have we suddenly transported into 1956, except it's the other way around?” Despite claiming hours later that the heavily edited video clip of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod speaking to the NAACP “is something that I wouldn't air and demand a resignation on,” Beck aired the clip and July 20 edition of his radio program and asked, “Have we suddenly transported into 1956, except it's the other way around? ... Does anybody else have a sense that there are some that just want revenge? Doesn't it feel that way?”
Beck says progressives “need anger in the streets” and “need a race war or any kind of war pulling each other apart.” On the July 16 edition of his show, Beck asserted that progressives like the NAACP, the “Black Panthers,” and the Department of Justice are “poking, poking, poking, poking, poking. They need people to react. They need anger in the streets.” He added that “they need a race war or any kind of war pulling each other apart. 'Divided we will fall' -- they know it.”
Beck has frequently declared that things are “slavery” or will lead to slavery in the past year. Over the past year, Beck has stated his belief that Obama's policies are “directed at enslaving people”; urged viewers not to become “a slave” to Washington; compared “the ACORN structure” to the Romans “giv[ing] gifts” to “enslave people” in Britain; ranted that answering Census questions will increase “slavery” to the Washington “master”; claimed that debt is “a path to slavery”; stated that recipients of federal aid have been “taught to be slaves”; repeatedly likened illegal immigration to “modern-day slavery”; asserted that progressive policies cause “slavery to government, welfare, affirmative action, regulation, control, and that progressives were previously known as “tyrants,” “slave owners.”
Beck distorts Obama's comments to accuse him of “racism.” On the June 14 editions of his radio and television shows, Beck misrepresented comments President Obama made during a 1995 interview to claim Obama did not want to meet with BP CEO Tony Hayward because he is a “white CEO” and that those comments were “code language” that “sounds like racism,” “stereotyping,” and “profiling.” However, as Obama's full comments make clear, he was actually discussing personal responsibility on the part of both blacks and whites.
Beck promotes a racist, anti-Semitic book. On the June 4 edition of his radio program, Beck promoted the 1936 book The Red Network, written by Elizabeth Dilling. In the book, Dilling wrote that “un-Christianized” “colored people” are “savages,” and that “American Negroes have acquired professions, property, banks, homes, and produced a rising class of refined, home loving people” thanks to the “American government and the inspiration of Christianity.” She also wrote that “God created separate races, but Communism insists upon racial inter-mixture.” The next day, responding to “amazing mail from the left,” Beck suggested that he had been unaware that Dilling was a Nazi sympathizer.
Beck attacked India, saying the Ganges River “sounds like a disease,” he wants the “American lifestyle” with “flush toilets.” On December 9, 2009, Beck claimed that American health care is superior because we have “high-tech hospitals and doctors who studied at Harvard rather than Gajra Raja medical school.” He also said that American homes have “something that we in America like to call flush toilets” and said the Ganges River “sounds like a disease.” Beck apologized for his comments about the Ganges several days later.
Beck asked: “Do you believe Tiger Woods may actually be O.J. Simpson?” On December 8, 2009, Beck asked: “May I ask you this Christmas question? Do you believe Tiger Woods may actually be O.J. Simpson?” He continued: “Is this guy turning into O.J. Simpson?” Referring to the hospitalization of Woods' mother-in-law, Beck stated: “Well, there was a woman taken to the hospital last night at O.J.'s -- I mean, I'm sorry, Tiger Woods' house. I'm not saying that it was an assault or anything else, I'm just -- you know, Tiger, it's -- we are starting to lose control here.”
Beck wondered why blacks identify as black since he doesn't identify as white. During a panel discussion on his Fox News show on November 13, 2009, Beck asked the studio audience: “How many people here identify themselves as African-Americans? Why?” He added: “Why not identify yourself as Americans?” After a panelist said, “But people can look at you and tell you're black, you can't escape that,” Beck said, “Yeah, but I don't identify myself as white or a white American.”
Beck repeatedly used New Black Panther case to demagogue on race
Beck: “We seem to be experiencing a government that doesn't care about racism from” New Black Panthers. After declaring on the July 13 edition of his show that “We want to talk about racism tonight,” Beck showed the video of a member of the New Black Panther Party making a hateful speech in public before the November 4, 2008, election and claimed it was “voter intimidation,” adding that “We seem to be experiencing a government that doesn't care about racism from these guys.”
Beck: “Radical revolutionaries” and the New Black Panthers “have ties to the White House.” On the July 12 edition of his television show, Beck claimed that “radical revolutionaries” and the New Black Panthers “have ties to the White House in a myriad of ways.” He added that Attorney General “Eric Holder is opening the floodgates, giving them permission to do what they want to do -- he'll look the other way, except on things that they think need fundamental transformation.”
Beck: “They want a race war ... and our government is going to stand by and let them do it.” On the July 12 edition of his radio program, while discussing the New Black Panther Party, Beck said: “They want a race war. We must be peaceful people. They are going to poke and poke and poke, and our government is going to stand by and let them do it.” Beck added, “We must take the role of Martin Luther King, because I do not believe that Martin Luther King believed in, 'Kill all white babies.' ”
Beck: NBPP are part of Obama's “army of thugs.” On his July 9 radio program, Beck claimed that the New Black Panther Party is part of Obama's “army of thugs.” Beck also suggested during the show that Obama is sympathetic to the NBPP's hate speech, saying that Obama “has not come out and denied the hate speech. But why would he? It's the same kind of hate speech he heard every Sunday in church.”
Beck accuses Obama of aligning himself with “community organizers” like the New Black Panthers. On the July 7 edition of his radio program, Glenn Beck played an audio clip of one of the New Black Panthers who stood outside the Philadelphia polling place. In the audio, which was from a 2008 National Geographic documentary on the New Black Panthers that was completed before the 2008 election day, the New Black Panther said, “I hate white people. All of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate it. ... You want freedom, you're going to have to kill some crackers. You're going to have to kill some of their babies.” Beck likened the New Black Panthers' rhetoric to “the kind of stuff” Van Jones “was holding up” with the group STORM, stating: “These are the kinds of people that our president aligns himself with. He already has Van Jones and STORM. How many people do you have to have that are community organizers? Because, really, that's all that the Black Panthers are: community organizers.”
Beck: “I'm not sure what racism is any more.” Also on the same edition of his radio show, after again playing the audio from the New Black Panthers documentary, Beck stated, “Now, some people might call this racism because he hates all white crackers.” Beck later said: “I heard this language before in the '60s, and it didn't end well. I think we all have to watch our language. I wonder if Nancy [Pelosi] is going to give a speech today about the watching of our cracker language. Of course not. So, I'm not sure if it is officially racism because I'm not sure what racism is any more.”
Beck appropriated Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement
Beck: African-Americans “don't own Martin Luther King.” While promoting his 8-28 rally on July 12, Beck said “people have been acting as though no white man can mention or praise or support the mention of Martin Luther King. I'm sorry African American's don't own Martin Luther King; it's a human idea just like white people don't own George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. These are American icons and ideals and we are all Americans.
Beck's new radio promo includes clip of Martin Luther King saying, ”Now is the time." In January, 2009, new promotion for Beck's radio show included Martin Luther King saying, “Now is the time,” from King's August 1963 "I have a dream" speech.
Beck previously compared himself to King. On the November 25, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck defended himself against accusations that he's “anti-government” by asking: “Was Martin Luther King -- was he anti-government?”
Beck planning rally at Lincoln Memorial on anniversary of King's “I have a dream” speech. On November 23, 2009, Beck announced on his website that he has planned a rally at “the feet of Abraham Lincoln” for August 28, 2010. As The Washington Examiner reported, “the date and location just happen to match up perfectly with the date and location of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech made in 1963.” As Media Matters' Will Bunch noted, some of the nation's civil rights leaders accused Beck of “hijacking” the legacy of King's speech, and have organized a counter-rally.
BECK: This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. It is -- it's an abomination what has happened.
Do you have the Bertha Lewis audio? Bertha Lewis was arrested yesterday -- Bertha Lewis, ACORN, New York -- she was arrested at an anti-Arizona rally and they were locked in arms, singing “We Shall Overcome.” How dare you?
I tell you right now. We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties, and damnit, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place.
Beck claimed his followers “are the inheritors and protectors of the civil rights movement.” During the May 24 edition of his radio program, after playing audio of Al Sharpton talking about “the dream,” Beck said:
BECK: That is not the dream, that is a perversion of the dream. We are the people of the civil rights movement. We are the ones that must stand for civil and equal rights. Equal rights -- justice. Equal justice. Not special justice, not social justice, but equal justice. We are the inheritors and protectors of the civil rights movement. They are perverting it. They're perverting it, and they're doing it intentionally.
Beck says a civil rights movement commitment card by MLK is “the next phase of the 9/12 Project.” During the April 21 edition of his radio show, Beck read the “commitment card” that “Martin Luther King had every marcher sign,” and said it “looks to me like the next phase of the 9/12 Project.”
Beck compared health care reform protesters to civil rights marchers. During the October 14, 2009, edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck showed pictures of fire hoses turned on civil rights protesters while advocating opposition to health care reform.
In between incidents of race-baiting, Beck lamented cries of racism from others
Beck laments hollow cries of racism. On the January 6 edition of his television show, Beck ranted about “progressives ... smear[ing] their detractors” with cries of racism:
BECK: The progressives must reactivate their far-left base. They must smear their detractors. They will call me and Fox News and anyone else -- if you believe that we are a nation of laws and not of men, you're going to be called nasty names, and they're not going to listen to any of the facts that you have to say. I mean, at Fox News they've already decided that we're not a news organization; why not just throw in that we're a bunch of Neanderthals that hate anyone that look different than us? Unfortunately for them -- and here's the good news -- I believe the paradigm in America has changed. Charges like racism deserve to be heard, and the evidence debated, if there is evidence. But there usually isn't. Americans are no longer afraid of being shouted down and calling names. We've finally gotten back to the stage where we remember our mother telling us: “Remember, sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you.” No, they're not going to hurt. Don't get me wrong. There are people in this country that -- “I don't want that Mexican or that Irish person” or a Northerner or a Southerner living next to them. But for me and virtually everyone I know -- in fact, yes, everyone I know, and I believe the vast majority of Americans -- this is about the rule of law and not the ruse of race.
Beck says those “against” him “can't win the argument,” so they resort to shouting, race-baiting, name-calling. During the portion of the Bold Fresh Tour aired during the January 25 edition of Fox & Friends, Beck asserted that the reason there's “a level of hatred against him” is that “if you can't win the argument, you have to shout them down, you have to call them racist.”
Invoking King, Beck accuses the NAACP for using racism as a “tactic for political gain.” On the July 16 edition of his television show, Beck asserted that “Racism is being used as a tactic for political gain. The NAACP is now trying to intimidate tea partiers, passing a resolution to condemn, quote, 'the racist elements in the party.' ” Beck then added “racism is real, why are we minimizing it? Why are we using it for politics? ... Martin Luther King tried to get people to unite. Isn't that what we should be striving for?”
Beck says Obama will call the Supreme Court “racists” of they strike down health care reform. On the March 23 broadcast of his radio show, Beck claimed that “Barack Obama bullied the court” at the State of the Union address, because if it strikes down health care reform, he's going to “call them hatemongers, racists” and claim that “they need to be replaced,” like President Franklin Roosevelt did.