In one of the last rallies before the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) allowed right-wing radio hosts, Glenn Beck, Michael Berry,and Steve Deace, to introduce him, despite their records of espousing extreme rhetoric.
Cruz's rally featured seven speakers including anti-gay activists like CEO of The Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats and Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson as well as Iowa's Rep. Steve King (R). However, it was the presence of radio hosts Glenn Beck, Michael Berry, and Steve Deace which best illustrated the divisive nature of Cruz's platform.
Beck, once of Fox News fame and now a television and radio host on The Blaze, previously caused controversy due to his claim that President Obama is a “racist” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” The host has been criticized in the past for his use of Nazi imagery, his history of violent rhetoric and for making outlandish claims like blaming President Obama for the November terrorist attack in Paris. Beck announced his endorsement of Cruz in January, making Cruz the first candidate he has officially endorsed in his broadcast career.
Iowa based radio host Steve Deace began supporting Cruz early in this election cycle and endorsed Cruz in August, saying he has a "commitment to our principals." Since his endorsement Deace has written at least 24 articles trumpeting Cruz, advised the candidate before debates, and appeared in a lengthy campaign ad for Cruz.
Deace's brand of extremism centers around a plethora of anti-gay ideas. Deace coined the phrase “rainbow jihad” to describe advocates for LGBT rights -- a phrase which Cruz paraphrased claiming “the jihad ... going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” Deace's extreme views have led him to write about a hypothetical conversation with Jesus in which he claims to show Obama is not a Christian and an article which suggested divorce could make children gay. Deace has recently pushed the conspiracy theory that Obama may not leave the White House when his term is up in January 2017.
Rounding out Cruz's radio host speakers was Michael Berry, a supporter of Cruz's senate bid and "friend for over ten years." Much of Berry's show revolves around stoking the flames of racial tension. The host often undermines the intentions behind the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming “black lives matter, just not to black people" and that white people don't kill people the way black people do. Comedian Chuck Knipp, a frequent guest of Berry's, performs in blackface as “Shirley Q. Liquor” to mock racial stereotypes of black people.
Most egregious is Berry's weekly segment dedicated to mocking victims of gun violence in Chicago. Every Monday the host reads the “butcher bill,” reciting the names of those shot while mocking their names and the circumstances in which they were wounded or killed. Berry has claimed that the segment is sponsored by Black Lives Matter.