How Glenn Beck led his tea party followers into the GOP

Glenn Beck's political activism -- from the 9/12 Project to his 8/28 rally -- has made him a leader in the tea party movement. Beck has used that status to drive his followers into the Republican Party and bolster its get-out-the-vote efforts for the 2010 elections.

Analysis: Tea party supporters overwhelmingly support Beck

Analysis: Tea Party activists “deeply identify” with Beck. A July analysis of the tea party movement by Democratic polling firm Democracy Corps found that tea party supporters “deeply identify with Glenn Beck.” The analysis further stated:

In Beck We Trust

Glenn Beck is the most highly regarded individual among Tea Party supporters of the people we tested. He scores an extraordinarily high 75 percent warm rating, 57 percent very warm.

This affinity for Beck came through very clearly in the focus groups. The only news source that participants said they could trust was Fox. Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity were cited as people who “are not afraid to tell it like it is” and support their arguments with solid facts. Beck was undoubtedly the hero in these groups. Participants consider him an “educator” (in contrast to the popular Rush Limbaugh who is an “entertainer”) who teaches people history and puts himself at risk because he exposes the truth. In the words of a woman in Ft. Lauderdale, “I would trust my life in his hands.”

Other comments are just as laudatory:

I like the way he's trying to get back to the basics of the Constitution of the United States because I think that's where our government is losing focus. They're trying to change the Constitution or somehow twist it...

He brings out facts... And he actually shows the people saying the things. It's not like just sound bites. It's not chopped and really edited. And he is scary because every time I watch the show, which is pretty much every day, my heart feels...and I feel like I want to do something.

I'm frightened for him... Because of the things that he says. I think that he is stepping on some big toes.

He really does his research and he really lays it out to you well; a good professor.

Beck was early promoter of tea parties

Beck heavily promoted April 15, 2009, tea party rallies. In the month leading up to April 15, 2009, Beck frequently promoted the Tea Party protests and hosted the organizers of several tea party events. On his April 8, 2009, radio show, Beck said he was “going to do a fundraiser for” the organizers of the April 15, 2009, San Antonio tea party. Beck said that he “heard it's like $500 a plate or something like that” and that he would speak at the luncheon. Beck later announced he would not serve as the keynote speaker for the San Antonio tea party rally, as he had originally intended, but Beck reportedly still headlined a fundraising luncheon for the tea party organizers on April 15. Beck hosted his April 15, 2009, show live from the Alamo.

Beck aligns himself, his 9/12 Project with tea party movement

Beck started 9/12 Project, whose members helped to organize 9-12 protests. On March 13, 2009, Beck announced the launch of his 9-12 Project, whose members helped organize and turn out participants to the 9-12 protest. Beck claimed his 9/12 Project “isn't about me, it's not about the president, it's not about parties or politics or anything else. It is about proving that the real power to change America's course resides with you.” The Dallas Morning News reported that "[o]rganizers say the 9/12 movement began with Fox News television personality Glenn Beck 'to help remind us of where we were after the attacks on 9/11/2001,' said Michael Gallops of the Rowlett Tea Party."

Beck: “You've got to unite” through 9/12 Project. On August 27, 2009, Beck said of the 9-12 Project: “A few months ago, I told you, you got to know you're not alone. You've got to know. You got to unite. Talk to people. Make sure you know you're not alone, through the 9-12 Project. We started that. Millions all involved across the country and the 9-12 Project and other organizations like it. I knew we needed to connect with one another.”

Tea Party Express tour led to Beck-promoted 9/12 gathering. Beck implored his listeners to attend the 9/12 Project's September 12, 2009, rally in Washington because they “may be the only thing that stands between freedom and slavery.” Beck repeatedly touted the 9/12 rally on his broadcasts. The group Tea Party Express, meanwhile, staged a bus tour from California to the rally, which was heavily promoted by Fox News.

Beck teams up with FreedomWorks for rallies, helps them make peace with other tea party activists

FreedomWorks helped organize initial tea party protests. FreedomWorks -- a corporate-backed conservative group headed by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- stated in February 2009 that it “helped to organize 'Taxpayer Tea Party' protests around the country, in the wake of Rick Santelli's (CNBC) call for a ”Chicago Tea Party" to protest the ridiculous economic policies of President Barack Obama," adding that it was “working with other groups to plan a massive, nationwide tea party protest day for Tax Day on April 15th, 2009!” FreedomWorks took part in a “25-city Tea Party Tour where taxpayers angry that their hard-earned money is being usurped by the government for irresponsible bailouts, can show President Obama and Congressional Democrats that their push towards outright socialism will not stand.”

9/12 protest reportedly “set in motion” by FreedomWorks, pushed by Beck. The Wall Street Journal reported that the 9/12 protest "was set in motion earlier in 2009 when FreedomWorks officials applied for a march permit, choosing the date because it followed Congress's return from recess," and that Beck “on the date -- the day after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks -- as a symbol of what he called national unity and began promoting 9/12 demonstrations.” Similarly, Politico reported that “Adam Brandon, a FreedomWorks spokesman, said the organization had begun planning for today's event in March. Glenn Beck, the conservative talk show host, also rallied his listeners in recent weeks, urging them to make the trek to Washington in a show of force against Obama.”

FreedomWorks became a Beck sponsor after they drew fire from other tea party groups; Beck sought to end tea party “infighting.” On the April 17 edition of his radio show, Beck announced that he had taken on FreedomWorks as a sponsor. The announcement came shortly after a Politico report on other Tea Party leaders accusing Armey of “trying to hijack the tea parties.” Beck urged his radio audience to “link arms” with FreedomWorks, calling them “the only organization that we have seen that really truly has the organizational power.” Beck subsequently called for an end to “infighting” between 9-12ers, Tea Partiers, and FreedomWorks, and convened a summit on his Fox News program of Tea Party factions that included FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe.

FreedomWorks advertises on Beck's radio show. Beck regularly notes that a specific half-hour of his radio broadcast is “sponsored by FreedomWorks,” then reads a FreedomWorks ad on-air. In one such ad, Beck said that “I don't want you to do anything that brings you into line with progressives, but I want you to look for people that have some structure and some framework that can move and motivate a lot of people and can keep you connected. FreedomWorks has that infrastructure.”

FreedomWorks, tea party group align with Beck's 8/28 rally

Beck planned to tell 8/28 rally attendees to get involved with FreedomWorks. In an article on Beck's August 28 “Restoring Honor” rally, Politico reported that Beck's “alliances with tea party groups and Republican politicians seem to have further blurred the line between his entertainment empire and a burgeoning political role,” adding that “the plan is for Beck to tell rally attendees that, if they want to get involved in politics, they should sign up with FreedomWorks, said the group's president Matt Kibbe, who has appeared on Beck's radio show since FreedomWorks became a sponsor to talk tea party politics with Beck.” Politico also reported that FreedomWorks was supplying “volunteers as well as logistical advice” to Beck's rally, and that “FreedomWorks' political action committee is holding a fundraiser and get-out-the-vote training session the night before Beck's rally.”

Tea Party Patriots also took part in Beck rally. Politico reported that the group Tea Party Patriots would also provide “volunteers as well as logistical advice” to Beck's rally, adding:

Tea Party Patriots agreed to help promote the rally -- and to provide 400 volunteers to staff it, a requirement before the National Park Service will issue a permit -- because tea party activists were planning to turn out in droves. Beck lacks the organizational infrastructure or logistical know-how to pull off such a big event, said Jenny Beth Martin, a founder of the Tea Party Patriots.

“We had 350 volunteers in less than 24 hours,” said Martin, who discussed collaborating with Beck when the two met in May at an extravagant Manhattan party hosted by Time magazine. The party feted 100 people Time deemed most influential in 2010 -- a list that included Beck and Martin.

The payoff: Beck's get-out-the-vote effort for Republican candidates

Beck: “Vote for America” to stop communists, Marxists, Nazis. As the midterm elections approached, Beck repeatedly urged his audience to vote, warning them of terrible consequences if they failed to do so. Beck said that “You've got to vote and you've got to get your friends to vote” to stop progressives from “making the United States into a Third World country” and to counter those who “actually buy in to socialism and Marxism and communism,” and encouraged Americans to vote in “record-breaking numbers” because “we are in the end phase of the set-up.” Beck also urged his viewers to vote “to find ”somebody" to “help rein in this monstrosity” in Washington; he further claimed that “I don't care what color you are, you deserve to be a slave if you don't go out and vote this time,” and warned that "our republic is at stake."

Beck drops pretense, turns show over to GOP politicians and offers them “help.” On the October 26 edition of his Fox News show, Beck dropped all pretense, turning the show into an hour-long telethon and get-out-the-vote drive for Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Jim DeMint. At on point, Beck turned to DeMint and asked, “What kind of help do you need?” DeMint promptly directed Beck's viewers to a GOP fundraising website. Beck also allowed Bachmann to plug her Facebook page, where viewers could donate to her campaign, as well as her political action committee

Beck: “Vote however you want,” but “it's usually the Republican.” On the October 27 edition of his Fox News show, Beck said that “Your first priority as an American should not be for the R or the D. ... You vote for the candidate with honor and integrity, the one who stands for the Constitution, one that is for smaller government and cutting spending. ” Beck added, “You vote however you want. That's what I look for. And if it's -- well, it's usually the Republican.”

Beck is not “telling you who to vote for,” except when he does. Despite repeatedly saying he does not endorse candidates and isn't “telling you who to vote for,” Beck has made clear to his audience which candidates he thinks they should support or oppose in the upcoming midterm elections, often praising Republican candidates or attacking their Democratic opponents.

Beck's get-out-the-vote effort mirrors that of his employer. Media Matters has detailed how, during the 2009-2010 election cycle, more than 30 Fox News personalities -- including Beck -- have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or organizations in a total of more than 600 instances. Fox News' Republican get-out-the-vote operation has intensified as the election has drawn nearer as GOP candidates have flocked to the network for softball interviews.