Stating that “context matters,” Glenn Beck suggested he takes care to present information on air only if he has the “full context.” However, Beck has repeatedly and grossly distorted the context of people's remarks.
Beck suggests he is careful to avoid taking things out of context
Beck: “Context matters.” From the July 20 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: Here's my take on Shirley Sherrod: I don't think Shirley should have been fired -- or, I'm sorry, forced to resign. Based on the facts that we have right now, this is something that I wouldn't air and demand a resignation on. No, I wouldn't. Why? You know when we did Van Jones and we had all those clips of Van Jones, do you know how many audio pieces we have that we could've run, but we couldn't get the full context of the speech? Context matters.
In fact, Beck regularly takes people's words out of context
Beck frequently distorts the original meaning or intent of people's statements by failing to provide relevant context. Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples:
Beck cropped Berwick quote to claim it “confirms everything that we said about him.” On the July 8 edition of his Fox News show, Beck claimed that a quote from Donald Berwick, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, “confirms” what Beck and Fox News had previously said about how health care reform will lead to the rationing of health care. Beck stated: “Here's Berwick on rationing, quote: 'The decision is not whether or not we will ration care. The decision will be whether we will ration with our eyes open.' ” Beck edited out the part of Berwick's comment in which he explained that the current health care system already rations care and that the question for the future is how best to do it. Beck also failed to note that the insurance industry admits it currently uses cost-benefit analyses to determine health care coverage.
Beck distorted Obama's comments from 1995 to accuse him of “racism” and “profiling.” On the June 14 edition of his radio program, Beck aired an edited audio clip of Obama saying, “I really want to emphasize the word 'responsibility.' I think that whether you are a white executive living out in the suburbs who doesn't want to pay taxes to inner-city children --” Beck then likened the comments to “code language” and said they sounded “like racism.” Beck omitted Obama's full comments, in which he said: “I think that whether you are a white executive living out in the suburbs who doesn't want to pay taxes to inner-city children to -- for them to go to school or you are a inner-city child who doesn't want to take responsibility for keeping your street safe and clean, both of those groups have to take some responsibility if we're going to get beyond the kinds of divisions that we face right now.” On his Fox News show, Beck again cropped Obama's comments to claim they sounded “an awful lot like profiling.”
Beck cropped Green for All CEO's speech to claim she admitted to a “plan to take over the country.” On the June 10 edition of his Fox News program, Beck played a portion of a speech by Green for All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins in which she stated: “When Glenn Beck started talking about me, someone said, 'Are you angry?' And what I said to him is, 'Absolutely, we have a plot to take over this country. Absolutely we do.' It's not a hidden agenda.” Beck then said: “See what's happening? They do have a plot, a plan to take over the country. And the mask is coming off.” In fact, Ellis-Lamkins explained that the “agenda” of Green for All is that “all people deserve equality” -- not, as Beck suggested, a sinister plot to take over the country.
Beck misrepresented Apollo Alliance co-founder to suggest he wants to bring “the economy to a complete halt.” On the May 5 edition of his Fox News program, Beck distorted remarks by Apollo Alliance co-founder Joel Rogers to suggest that Rogers' “definition of the green economy” is to bring “the economy to a complete halt” by eliminating “every power plant” and stopping “every car in America.” In fact, Rogers was underscoring the challenge of dealing with climate change, not advocating for a shutdown of power generation and transportation sectors. Nowhere in the remarks that Beck played did Rogers advocate “bringing the economy to a halt,” and the Apollo Alliance's plan for a “clean energy economy” includes improving the efficiency of cars and power plants -- not stopping them.
Beck distorted Wallis' remarks on “redistribution of wealth” to attack him as a “Marxist.” On the April 6 edition of his Fox News show, Beck distorted comments Rev. Jim Wallis made to claim he is a “Marxist,” playing audio of Wallis agreeing that “redistribution of wealth in society” is “what the Gospel is about.” In fact, in the interview Beck selectively clipped, Wallis actually discussed individuals who “transformed” their lives to focus on charity, highlighting how Bill and Melinda Gates have been “doing a redistribution of wealth” through their philanthropy.
Beck falsely claimed Obama told tea partiers to “get out of the way.” During the March 26 edition of his Fox News show, Beck claimed that Obama was speaking about tea partiers when he “went out on the road and he said you gotta get out of the way, because I just need to mop up the mess.” However, in the speech Beck cited, Obama was discussing “folks on the other side of the aisle” who created the financial “mess,” not tea party protesters.
Beck played doctored Reid audio to distort his jobs comments. On the March 5 edition of his radio program, Beck played doctored audio of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying it is “good” news that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February -- an assessment many economists agreed with. Beck criticized Reid's statement, but Beck's audio cut out Reid's accurate explanation that the “good” news was that unemployment and job losses were lower than economists had expected.
Beck took stolen CRU email out of context to suggest climate change is a “scam.” On the November 23, 2009, broadcast of Glenn Beck, Beck quoted an email stolen from climate scientist Phil Jones in which Jones referred to a “trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years to hide the decline.” Beck then commented, “Yes, he is talking about a trick that another scientist previously used in a peer-reviewed journal to apparently hide the decline in temperatures. Incredible.” However, other scientists have explained that “trick” is a term used by scientists to refer to “a good way to deal with a problem” and is not problematic, and that Jones' phrase was “pulled out of context.”
Beck omitted context of Bill Clinton comment to claim Clinton suggested “slow[ing] down our economy” to fight global warming. On the May 21, 2008, edition of his radio show, Beck played a cropped comment from a speech by former President Clinton so that the only audio aired was: “We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions, 'cause we've got to save the planet for our grandchildren.” After playing the edited clip, Beck said, “There it is. 'We've got to slow down our economy to save the planet for our grandchildren.' If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know, nothing will.” In fact, Clinton did not say "[w]e've got to slow down our economy"; rather, he said that “rich” countries could take that approach, but it would not work, and that the “only way” to fight global warming is to prove that doing so “is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy.” The next day, Beck apologized and acknowledged that Clinton's remarks were “taken out of context.”