Beck just makes things up about Smithsonian exhibit

Glenn Beck falsely suggested that “tax dollars” were being used to pay for a Smithsonian art exhibit that included an image of what Beck described as “Jesus with ants on him.” In fact, donations from companies, foundations, and individuals paid for the exhibit, not tax dollars.

Beck claims “tax dollars” funded Smithsonian exhibit

Beck: “And then you have the tax dollars funding this wonderful art display. It's Christmas at the Smithsonian.” On his Fox News show, Beck said of the exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, which is titled “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” :

Perfect storm. Eroding values. Hard work, sacrifice, thrift, honor, truth, God. As a nation born out of faith in God, how's that going today, huh? Twenty-five percent of those under 30 years of age describe their religion as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular. Now, as you get older, it goes down. Thirty to 40 years old, only 19 percent. Ages 40 to 50, 15 percent. If you're over 60, less than 10 percent say that.

And then you have the tax dollars funding this wonderful art display. It's Christmas at the Smithsonian. Here's this wonderful -- oh, look, it's Jesus with ants on him. They describe it as the first major exhibition to focus on the sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture.

What? You got to be kidding me, right? What does this have to do with the birth of the baby Jesus, and why is he now covered in ants? Whose values are these? And you wonder why there's the breakdown of the family. [Glenn Beck, 11/30/10]

FACT: The exhibit is privately funded

Smithsonian lists contributions from private individuals and institutions. The National Portrait Gallery website lists the companies, foundations, and individuals who contributed to the exhibit:

The exhibition has been made possible by The Calamus Foundation with the leadership contributions of Donald A. Capoccia and Tommie L. Pegues, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Major support is provided by the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust, E*TRADE, Ella Foshay, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, Catherine V. Dawson, Robby Browne and Madison Cumnock, The Durst Organization, Ashton Hawkins and Johnnie Moore, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Occasions Caterers, the David Schwartz Foundation, Frank J. Sciame, Jonathan Sheffer and Christopher Barley, and Jon Stryker. Additional significant support is provided by many generous friends of the National Portrait Gallery, including Tonio Burgos and Associates, Cambria Estate Winery, Lisa and Porter Dawson, Craig Kruger and Eric Michael, the Toby D. Lewis Philanthropic Fund, The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, David von Storch, Alexander and Bonin, H. van Ameringen Foundation, Lisa Bodager and Rebecca Linder, the David Bohnett Foundation, Dan Critchett and Greg Slimko, Mr. and Mrs. James R. Doty, Charles C. Francis, Sidney Lawrence and Thomas Birch, Weston F. Milliken, Leo Mullen and Helene Patterson, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, James Sharp Brodsky and Philip E. McCarthy II, William Sofield, Peter and Barbara Thompson, Paul Travis & Mark Fichandler, Paul Washington and Stan Sagner, and Diane Wondisford. [National Portrait Gallery website]

Wash. Post: Smithsonian “receives public funds” but “does not use that money for exhibitions.” The Washington Post reported:

The exhibition, which opened Oct. 30, was funded by the largest number of individual donors for a Portrait Gallery show. The show, which cost $750,000, was also underwritten by foundations that support gay and lesbian issues.


As part of the Smithsonian, the gallery receives public funds. Overall, the Smithsonian gets about 70 percent of its annual budget from the federal government, but it does not use that money for exhibitions. [The Washington Post, 11/30/10]

CNSNews: Smithsonian says “federal funds are not used to pay for Smithsonian exhibits themselves.” The conservative CNS News website reported:

The Smithsonian Institution has an annual budget of $761 million, 65 percent of which comes from the federal government, according to Linda St. Thomas, the Smithsonian's chief spokesperson. The National Portrait Gallery itself received $5.8 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2010, according to St. Thomas. It also received $5.8 million in federal funding in fiscal 2009, according to the museum's annual report. The gallery's overall funding in that year was $8 million.

St. Thomas told that federal funds are not used to pay for Smithsonian exhibits themselves, including the “Hide/Seek” exhibit. The federal funds received by the Smithsonian, she said, pay for the buildings, the care of collections exhibited at Smithsonian venues, and museum staff, including the salaries for curators of exhibits. The exhibits presented at Smithsonian museums, including “Hide/Seek,” are funded by donations from individuals or institutions. [, 11/29/10]

Beck previously suggested that he could not “just make things up and remain on the air”

Beck: "[D]o you really believe that I could ... just make things up and remain on the air?" On his Fox News show, Beck said:

What is it that we make up? I would ask you to just take a moment here -- do you really believe that I could -- or anybody here at Fox News could -- just make things up and remain on the air? No. [Glenn Beck, 11/29/10]