Beck's Dec. '09 Fusion magazine: A rehashing of old falsehoods

Glenn Beck's Fusion magazine claims to provide its subscribers with “the latest perspective on what is happening in our world, coupled with [Beck's] personal thoughts as 'work in progress' as well as cutting edge comedy and satire.” But the December 2009 issue of Fusion simply rehashed many of the falsehoods, smears, and hysterics promoted by Beck and others in the right-wing media throughout the previous year.

Fusion misleads on 2009 stimulus and omnibus spending programs

From Tyler Grimm's Fusion article headlined, “2009: Year Of The Pig” :

What do the drinking habits of Chinese prostitutes, tattoo removal programs in California, and a water taxi service in Pleasure Beach, Connecticut have in common? No, they're not plots for new reality TV shows, they're all examples of federally funded programs that your tax dollars supported in 2009 via the Congressional earmark process. If that makes you angry, then take a deep breath and hide your wallet before reading on.

Money for “Chinese prostitutes” study awarded in November 2008. Later in the article, Grim criticized President Obama for having “refused to support the elimination of earmarks because they 'give legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects.' ” But contrary to Grimm's suggestion that the earmarks he cited were approved by the Obama administration, the $2.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to “establish and evaluate whether an alcohol and HIV intervention center can assist in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS among sex workers in China” was awarded during the Bush administration, as Media Matters for America has documented. Wayne State University, which received the grant, posted a press release announcing the award on November 5, 2008.

Criticized “tattoo removal programs in California” is an “anti-crime program” reportedly praised by law enforcement officials. As Greg Sargent reported on February 26, the “tattoo removal program” is actually an “anti-crime program” that “law enforcement officials” “swore by ... for reducing crime and saving lives” :

Conservatives are hammering the House's new $410 billion spending bill because it contains $200,000 for what they're derisively referring to as “tattoo removal.” Fox News' Sean Hannity, Drudge, and at least one GOP official on MSNBC, among others, have been all over this today.

But a little reporting reveals that that this “tattoo removal” program is an anti-crime program in the San Fernando Valley that re-integrates reformed gang members and makes it easier for them to find jobs. Two Los Angeles law enforcement officials I just spoke to -- one who identified himself as a “conservative Republican” -- swore by the program for reducing crime and saving lives [emphasis in original].

Fusion falsely suggested stimulus bill funds unused train station. Included in what Grimm considered “so-called 'stimulus' package” initiatives that demonstrate “the government is wasting money” was "$10 million to renovate a Pennsylvania train station that hasn't been used in 30 years." The earmark was first flagged in Republican Sen. Tom Coburn's (OK) June 2009 report, "100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion." But as Media Matters noted, Coburn's own report noted that while the Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, station house in question has been closed for 30 years, "[t]he station's platform currently serves more than 80,000 passengers a year," which is reportedly nearly double the number who used the station in 2003-04.

Fusion's “most important stories of the year” include old and discredited falsehoods against ACORN

In a section of the magazine's “Year in Review” covering “some of the most important stories of the year,” which it claimed “are the ones that the Mainstream MediaTM or 'MSM' has completely missed,” Fusion wrote of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN):

For years, the MSM barely paid attention to ACORN. News reports sporadically referenced allegations of voter registration fraud and census irregularities, but they never connected the dots with hard-hitting investigative work. All the while, ACORN continued to receive billions in government funding. Finally, two kids with a video camera decided to bring down the criminal enterprise on their own. Posing as a pimp and prostitute, they recorded ACORN workers giving helpful advice on how to run a brothel for underage illegal immigrants from El Salvador. When the story broke, Congress shut off the funding immediately. Was that so hard??

ACORN has not “receive[d] billions in government funding.” As The New York Times reported on November 27, “Since 1994, ACORN ... has received about $53 million in federal aid.”

Beck previously claimed ACORN would receive billions of dollars from stimulus. As Media Matters has documented, on the May 6 edition of his Fox News program, Beck repeated the false claim that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act had “guaranteed” “ACORN, or groups like them ... billions of dollars to buy more votes for the party that helps them the most.” Media Matters has noted that the stimulus bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds in question and has no plans to apply for them.

Investigation of ACORN videos found no “pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff.” As Media Matters noted, in his “Independent Governance Assessment of ACORN” report, former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger (D) found “no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers” :

While some of the advice and counsel given by ACORN employees and volunteers was clearly inappropriate and unprofessional, we did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff; in fact, there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers. Instead, the videos represent the byproduct of ACORN's longstanding management weaknesses, including a lack of training, a lack of procedures, and a lack of on-site supervision.

Fusion repeats right-wing hysteria over Obama's back to school speech, video of children singing about Obama

The “So Sayeth the Shepherd. So Sayeth the Flock” graph of Fusion's “Year in Review” feature read:

The MSM dismissed the concerns of parents about Department of Education back-to-school lesson plans that would have brainwashed children across the entire country into becoming little community organizers. Even now, reporters continue to disregard creepy examples of liberal indoctrination in the classroom, including the disturbing video of a kindergarten teacher in Burlington Township, New Jersey who changed the words “Jesus loves the little children...” to make her young students praise and glorify “Barack Hussein Obama,” for we “all are equal in his eyes.” Apparently, not all types of prayer have been banned from public schools.

Beck and right-wing media previously spread hysteria over Obama's back-to-school speech. As Media Matters previously documented, numerous conservative media figures baselessly accused Obama of trying to “indoctrinate” America's children with his back-to-school speech encouraging students to succeed and persist in their studies. Discussing a bas-relief supposedly representing Mussolini, Beck himself said: “Gee, who's having indoctrination next week? Oh, yeah, that's right, the president -- completely unrelated. This represents, at the time this was made, Mussolini. This was Mussolini. By the way, the artist that made this -- his son, ironically and tragically died fighting the army of Mussolini years after this was made.”

Education Secretary Duncan: Obama speech “about persisting and succeeding in school.” In an August 26 letter to principals, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described Obama's September 8 speech as being about “the importance of education” and “persisting and succeeding in school.” Duncan also offered K-12 “classroom activities” to “engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives.”

Beck, other conservative media fearmongered over school video. As Media Matters documented, conservative media figures fearmongered about the Burlington Township school video, in which children sing a song about Obama, with Beck saying, “This is indoctrination. This should horrify the American people.”

District superintendent: Song is from Black History Month activity, and the “recording and distribution of the classroom activity was unauthorized.” The Burlington Township school board superintendent wrote in a letter to parents that "[t]he video is of a class of students singing a song about President Obama. The activity took place during Black History Month in 2009, which is recognized each February to honor the contributions of African Americans to our country. Our curriculum studies, honors and recognizes those who serve our country. The recording and distribution of the class activity were unauthorized."

Despite evidence to the contrary, Fusion claims tea party movement is grassroots

Beck's magazine cited “grassroots movements of ordinary Americans” at tea parties, 9-12 Project rallies, health care town hall meetings. In the magazine's “Year in Review” section, the “Grassroots Protests” segment reads:

The MSM may be soft on special interest groups like ACORN and SEIU, but they have no problem trying to cut down grassroots movements of ordinary Americans. Newscasters ridiculed the “Tea Party” anti-tax protests with a ceaseless litany of juvenile teabag sex jokes. The thousands of patriots who attended the “9/12 Project” rallies were portrayed as small crowds of insane racists. Voters who stood up at town hall meetings to speak against the government takeover of healthcare were mocked as a mob of angry rich people or, even worse, “Astroturf” Republican Party operatives. To know the truth, you had to be there.

Fox News promoted April 15 tea parties. In the lead-up to the April 15 tea parties, Fox News frequently aired segments publicizing and encouraging viewers to get involved with the protests. A Media Matters study found that from April 6 to 13, Fox News featured at least 20 segments on the tea party protests. A subsequent Media Matters study found that from April 6 to 15, Fox News aired at least 107 commercial promotions for its coverage of the tea parties. Beck himself urged his viewers to “celebrate with Fox News” at one of the four “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties,” hosted by Fox personalities. After the April 15 tea parties, dozens of local and national media outlets noted that Fox News was a driving force behind the tea parties and numerous reports quoted participants saying they were driven to the protests by Fox.

Beck and his organization promoted 9-12 rallies. Beck founded the 9-12 Project, which describes itself as “a place for you and other like-minded Americans looking for direction in taking back the control of our country.” Beck's 9-12 website worked with others to organize the September 12 “March on Washington,” which Beck promoted on his radio show. Beck himself participated in the protest by broadcasting live from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Fox News. Fox News also dispatched contributor Tucker Carlson and Griff Jenkins, reporter and "tea party groupie," to the protests.

Several conservative groups engaged in efforts to encourage their members to attend health care town halls. Conservative organizations opposed to health care reform -- including FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Conservatives for Patients' Rights -- conducted campaigns to turn out their supporters to events on health care reform. CPR reportedly "confirmed that it has undertaken a concerted effort to get people out to the town hall meetings to protest reform," while FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity reportedly “organized” the town hall protestors and “harness[ed] social networking Web sites to organize their supporters in much the same way Mr. Obama did during his election campaign.” The disruptive meetings were also promoted by Fox News.

Fusion echoes conservative media's distortion of DHS right-wing extremism report

Beck's magazine: "[T]he Department of Homeland Security thinks that you are probably a terrorist if you believe in limited federal government." The “You May Be A Domestic Terrorist If...” section in Fusion reads:

You cannot really blame the MSM for marginalizing the traditional values of ordinary Americans. After all, the Department of Homeland Security thinks that you are probably a terrorist if you believe in limited federal government, if you are pro-life, or if you are in favor of enforcing immigration laws. According to a report from the Missouri State Police, a Ron Paul bumper sticker on your car means that you could be a member of a violent militia group. Silly, we thought that police profiling based on broad stereotypes was supposed to be a bad thing.

Right-wing media previously freaked out over DHS report. As Media Matters documented, conservative media advanced the claim that the Obama administration was targeting conservatives simply because they disagree with administration policies and proposals, citing a Department of Homeland Security report that addressed potential issues that could spur right-wing extremism but did not allege that someone is an extremist simply because he or she holds conservative views.

DHS report based on 2008 FBI report authored under Bush administration. Media Matters noted that the DHS report on right-wing extremism cited a 2008 FBI report titled “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11.” The FBI's Counterterrorism Division determined with "[h]igh confidence" that "[m]ilitary experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement as the result of recruitment campaigns by extremist groups and self-recruitment by veterans sympathetic to white supremacist causes." The 2008 report further stated that a “review of FBI white supremacist extremist cases from October 2001 to May 2008 identified 203 individuals with confirmed or claimed military service active in the extremist movement at some time during the reporting period,” and that "[a]ccording to FBI information, an estimated 19 veterans (approximately 9 percent of the 203) have verified or unverified service in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." In its April 7 assessment, DHS stated, “Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.”

Beck's magazine ignored previous DHS report on left-wing extremism. On January 26, DHS issued a report titled “Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade.” The report concluded that “a number of emerging trends point to leftwing extremists maturing and expanding their cyber attack capabilities over the next decade with the aim of attacking targets in the United States.”