In the first part of his multi-day special on philanthropist George Soros, Glenn Beck mangled Soros quotes, lied about Soros' past, smeared other progressives associated with Soros, and distorted legislative history to paint Soros as an all-powerful and dangerous “puppet master.”
Beck distorts Soros quotes
BECK CLAIM: In 2004, Soros called the election “not a normal election,” and said that “in periods of regime change, normal rules do not apply.” Accusing Soros of setting up a “shadow party” to interfere in the 2004 elections, Beck suggested that Soros said that “normal rules do not apply” during the election because it is “not a normal election.” From the November 9 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: A shadow party is not a political party, it is a -- at least not in a tangible sense. It works outside the normal electoral system. In 2000, Soros funded one-third of the shadow conventions. Do you even remember these? They were run by Arianna Huffington, the president's favorite source of news. And one of the lead organizers next to her was Jim Wallis, one of the guys who is campaigning against this program, surprise, surprise.
The idea was to parallel the Democratic and Republican conventions -- the shadow convention. Huffington said at the time, the message of the shadow conventions was, quote, “Not left or right, and the answers to these issues are not going to be found in the old ideas of the past. Clearly, the Great Society solution of top-down programs has failed.” Top-down programs. “Instead, the answers could be found in the raw power,” quoting, “of government appropriations.” Wow.
But it was the next election cycle that truly launched the shadow party. In 2004, when Soros didn't mince words, he stated, quote, “This is not a normal election. These are not normal times.” And, quote, “I do not accept the rules imposed by others. If I did, I would not be alive today. And in periods of regime change, normal rules do not apply. One needs to adjust one's behavior to the changing circumstances.”
By the 2004 election cycle, Soros' shadow party had shaped the Democratic message. Under Soros, the guidance of the shadow-party infrastructure had assumed the coherent shape by early 2004. They were seven extensively independent nonprofit groups, which included MoveOn.org that would help the Democrats. Really?
REALITY: Beck used comments from 1995 to show that Soros “didn't mince words” in 2004. Beck cited David Horowitz and Richard Poe's The Shadow Party as the source of his claim that Soros in 2004 said that “in periods of regime change, normal rules do not apply.” In fact those comments, which Beck claimed show that Soros “didn't mince words” in 2004, are actually from the 1995 book Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve, during a discussion about investment losses in Eastern Europe and the need for financial markets there (emphasis added):
KRISZTINA KOENEN (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung): You have been accused of playing by your own rules and changing the rules when it suits you.
SOROS: I plead guilty. I do not accept the rules imposed by others. If I did, I would not be alive today. I am a law-abiding citizen, but I recognize that there are regimes that need to be opposed rather than accepted. And in periods of regime change, the normal rules don't apply. One needs to adjust one's behavior to the changing circumstances.
Look at the tremendous changes I have gone through on a personal level. Consider my career as a philanthropist. In the beginning, I avoided any personal involvement. I sought to remain anonymous and shunned publicity. Later, when the revolution gathered momentum, I accepted the fact I was deeply involved. After 1989, I actively sought to gain a hearing for my views. That alone was a major change. At the same time, I continued to abstain from doing business in Eastern Europe. Now, I have given that up to. The reversal from my starting point, when I dissociated myself from my philanthropy, is complete. I accept everything that I do, whether as an investor or as a benefactor as an integral part of my existence. And I am very happy about it because in a sense my whole life has been one long effort to integrate various facets of my existence.
There is a remarkable parallel in the evolution of my attitude toward philanthropy and my attitude toward making money. At first, I didn't want to identify myself with my business career. I felt there was more to me than making money. I kept my private life strictly separate from my business. Then I went through a a rough patch in 1962, when I was practically wiped out, and it affected me deeply. I had some psychosomatic symptoms, like vertigo. It made me realize that making money is an essential part of existence. Now I am completing the process by doing away with the artificial separation between my activities as investor and as philanthropist.
The internal barriers have crumbled and I am all of one piece. It gives me a great sense of fulfillment. I realize that I cut a larger-than-life figure and I feel ambivalent about that. On one hand, I find it gratifying, but on the other, the sheer magnitude of my activities, both in business and in philanthropy, makes me uneasy. I must admit that I wanted it that way and I probably could not feel all of a piece if I weren't larger than life. It makes me somewhat abnormal and that is the source of malaise. Still, it is better to have abnormal accomplishments than to harbor abnormal ambitions. For the first 50 years of my life, I felt as if I had a guilty secret now it is out in the open and I am proud of what I have accomplished. [pages 145-146]
BECK CLAIM: Soros advocated for “globalization” by saying, “The main obstacle of a stable and just world order is the United States.”
BECK: I believe you take a man at his word, and George Soros has publicly dedicated his life to this. [points to chalkboard] He has even said he's willing to die for what he believes in. Here he is.
SOROS [video clip]: In the things that I am engaged in, I am actually willing to put my life at risk, and I think it makes me feel much more complete.
BECK: Wow. You complete me, George. I'm willing to put my life at stake, and so are many people in America. It is what you believe in. But what is it that he believes in? He has tens of billions of dollars, all flowing in, pulling strings. His tentacles are everywhere. What is he going through all of this trouble for to achieve? Well, globalization. George Soros believes, quote, “The main obstacle of a stable and just world order is the United States.”
Let that sink in for a minute. “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.” We will pick it up, next, there.
REALITY: Soros was criticizing the policies of the Bush administration and said his top priority was "[c]hanging the attitude and policies of" the U.S. Beck cited a passage in Soros' book, The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror, in which Soros explicitly criticized the policies of the Bush administration as an impediment to “a stable world order.” From The Age of Fallibility:
Writing the book has helped me to establish future priorities. Some of them are quite far removed from our previous activities. I have identified two problems that endanger our survival: the global energy crisis and nuclear proliferation. As regards the former, we are already at the cutting edge of dealing with the resource curse and we are getting engaged in global warming. The Russian policy of using gas contracts both to suborn neighboring countries and to divert what ought to be public revenues for private benefit will be a particular field of interest. Nuclear proliferation, by contrast, has been entirely outside the purview of my foundations. I do not know what we can do about it but we cannot disregard it.
The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States. This is a harsh -- indeed, for me, painful -- thing to say, but unfortunately I am convinced it is true. The United States continues to set the agenda for the world in spite of its loss of influence since 9/11, and the Bush administration is setting the wrong agenda. The Bush agenda is nationalistic: it emphasizes the use of force and ignores global problems whose solution requires international cooperation. The rest of the world dances to the tune the United States is playing, and if that continues too long we are in danger of destroying our civilization. Changing that attitude and policies of the United States remains my top priority.
The task has become more complicated since the 2004 elections, and that was the source of my confusion when I sat down to write this book. It is no longer a question of removing President Bush from the White House; a more profound rethinking of America's role in the world is needed. It is not enough to revert to the policies of the previous administration; America must undergo a change of heart. The process must begin with recognizing the war on terror as a false metaphor. It is now accepted that the invasion of Iraq was a grievous error but the war on terror remains the generally accepted policy.
The change of heart cannot be accomplished merely by helping the Democratic Party in the 2006 and 2008 elections because Democrats show no sign of engaging in a profound rethinking. On the contrary, Democrats have been so spooked by the Republican charge that they are soft on defense, that they are determined to outdo the Republicans in the war on terror. Nevertheless, I think it is important that the Democratic Party gain control of the House of Representatives in 2006. A Democratic-controlled House could reveal the misdeeds of the Bush administration which are currently kept under wraps. [pages xvi-xvii]
BECK CLAIM: Soros “waged a war against capitalism” by saying “it poses some serious threats”
BECK: He's waged a war against capitalism.
SOROS: Capitalism is not directly opposed to open society. Nevertheless, it poses some serious threats.
REALITY: Soros was explaining that regulations are needed to shield individuals from financial bubbles. Soros was actually explaining that while capitalism is superior to “Soviet communism,” capitalism needs to be regulated. Beck edited out both the criticism of communism and Soros' explanation for the need for regulation in a capitalist system. From a lecture given by Soros at Central European University on October 29, 2009, “Capitalism Versus Open Society”:
Capitalism is not directly opposed to open society the way Soviet communism was. Nevertheless, it poses some serious threats. I have already discussed one of them; financial markets are not equilibrium-bound but bubble-prone. The dismantling of the regulatory mechanism has given rise to a super- bubble whose bursting will negatively influence the American economy for several years to come. This discussion has revealed another threat to open society: the agency problem and the influence of money in politics, which contaminate the political process.
In an open society, the political process is supposed to serve the common interest; in contemporary America, the political process has been captured by special interests. Our elected representatives are beholden to those who finance their election, not to the electorate at large. What is happening to President Obama's healthcare and energy bills provides a vivid illustration. The electorate has been brainwashed to such an extent that a responsible discussion of the public good has become well-nigh impossible. A national health service and a carbon tax are nonstarters. Our choices are confined to solutions that can be gamed by special interests.
Lobbying is at the core of the agency problem. How can it be brought under control?
This is an ethical issue and not a matter of modifying economic incentives. Lobbying is lucrative and it is liable to remain so even if the rules are tightened. In the absence of moral values, regulations can always be circumvented; what is worse, the regulations themselves will be designed to serve special interests, not the common interest. That is the danger facing the United States today when a wounded financial sector is seeking to regain its former pre-eminence.
Beck falsely claims landmark legislative initiatives and progressive critiques occurred because Soros demanded them
BECK CLAIM: McCain-Feingold legislation was the result of 1994 Soros speech. Beck said:
Let's just take a couple of examples here on what George Soros has said, and then see if there's any connection to anything. Soros spoke at Columbia University. He talked about an urgent need for campaign finance reform. I want you to remember, questioning our elections is important to George Soros. You'll understand in about 20 minutes. Well, he wanted to have campaign finance reform. He thought it was important. He spoke at Columbia University about it. Well, Open Society -- his little group, Open Society, started by the guy with SDS -- it was one of only a handful of groups that spent $123 million to push finance reform. Soros, quote, said, “Do something about the distortion of our electoral process by the excessive use of TV advertising.” So, he wanted to make sure that lies couldn't distort things.
Well, it wasn't long after that speech at Columbia University that, lo and behold, Senator Russ Feingold, a progressive, and a few months later with John McCain, a Republican progressive, came with a proposal in hand for what would eventually become the McCain-Feingold Act.
REALITY: Feingold campaigned on campaign finance reform during his 1992 election and repeatedly supported it in the Senate prior to Soros' speech. Beck appears to be echoing the claims of Poe and Horowitz, who in The Shadow Party attribute the McCain-Feingold Act to Soros' November 30, 1994 speech at Columbia. But numerous articles in the Nexis database document Feingold's support for campaign finance legislation in the Senate prior to Soros' speech, as well as how he campaigned on reform during his 1992 Senate run.
BECK CLAIM: McCain-Feingold bolstered 501(c)(3) groups, “which can advertise at will.” Beck said:
BECK: The irony -- if it is -- is that McCain-Feingold ultimately led to the explosion of 501(c)(3) groups, which can advertise at will. 501(c)(3) groups. Oh! 501(c)(3) groups? You mean like Sojourners, or Color for Change, or the Tides Foundation, or Media Matters, or People for the American Way, or MoveOn.org? Center for American Progress, the Apollo Alliance, Ella Saker [sic] for Human Rights. You mean those things?
You see, we had the McCain-Feingold Act, and then mysteriously, almost unbeknownst to everyone, those groups became very powerful, much more powerful. And guess who controls most of the most powerful? George Soros.
REALITY: 501(c)(3) groups are banned from political advertising on behalf of or in opposition to candidates. From the Internal Revenue Service website:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.
On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.
BECK CLAIM: Kerry “adopt[ed]” Soros' criticism of the war on terror. From Glenn Beck:
BECK: George Soros, in the aftermath of 9-11, talked about police action as an alternative to war. Now, did anybody pick up on that? This is what he said. “War is a false and misleading metaphor in the context of combating terrorism. Crimes require police work, not military action.” George Soros.
Here he is, the Democratic candidate for president, adopting “crimes require police work not military action” positions.
SEN. JOHN KERRY [audio clip]: What we've learned is that the war on terror is much more of an intelligence operation and a law enforcement operation.
KERRY [video clip]: The war on terror is far less of a military operation, and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement operation.
BECK: And that's what we have now in our office. Starts with George Soros.
REALITY: Kerry was discussing the war on terror as a law enforcement issue before Soros quote Beck cites. Beck's claim is not supported by the very evidence he cited. The comment Beck attributed to Soros -- “War is a false and misleading metaphor in the context of combating terrorism. Crimes require police work, not military action” -- comes from Soros' 2003 book, The Bubble of American Supremacy: The Costs of Bush's War in Iraq. Beck then purports to show Kerry “adopting” that position, but one of the comments he shows Kerry made in September 2003 - before The Bubble of American Supremacy was published in December 2003.
From the March 19, 2003, edition of NPR's All Things Considered:
LIASSON: John Kerry handled the matter yesterday by giving a speech on homeland security and keeping his remarks about Iraq to a minimum.
KERRY: I think Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction are a threat, and that's why I voted to hold him accountable and to make certain that we disarm him. I think we need to, but it's not September 11th, folks, and the fact is that what we've learned is that the war on terror is much more of an intelligence operation and a law enforcement operation.
BECK CLAIM: Soros “set the agenda” by calling for “a large stimulus package.” Citing comments made by Soros that were published on November 24, 2008, Beck said:
Days after President Obama was elected, George Soros again set the agenda. He said, quote, “I think we need a large stimulus package, which will provide funds for state and local government to maintain their budgets, because they are not allowed by the constitution to run a deficit. For such a program to be successful, the federal government would need to provide hundreds of billions of dollars. In addition, another infrastructure program is necessary. In total, the cost would be between 300 and $600 billion range.”
Well, what was on Obama's -- the first thing on his agenda? The $787 billion stimulus bill. Gee. I remember this. And I remember saying at the time, who wrote this? It was too complex. It was too early in his -- oh, yeah, that's right. The Apollo Alliance. Where does the Apollo Alliance come from? The Tides Foundation. And where does the Tides Foundation get a lot of their funding? George Soros.
REALITY: Obama, Congress, and economists had already called for major fiscal stimulus. On November 5, 2008 -- one day after Obama's election and two-and-a-half weeks before Soros' comments were published -- The New York Times reported that “an economic stimulus package is high on Mr. Obama's agenda” and that Democratic leaders in Congress had already discussed a stimulus bill:
Quick passage of an economic stimulus package is high on Mr. Obama's agenda, even more pressing for the moment than the tax package that he promoted repeatedly during his campaign.
Congress could act on the stimulus this month -- but only if the president-elect signals that he favors a preinauguration special session, Congressional Democrats said. Legislators would more than likely adopt some relatively inexpensive measures rather than try to pass a much larger outlay that the Bush administration might oppose. After he takes office, Mr. Obama is likely to ask Congress for an additional economic lift, those in his camp say.
Before the election, the party leadership in Congress discussed a lame-duck session to take up a bill that would pump $150 billion to $200 billion into the economy.
''We need a package that matches the problem as it exists today, and in my view that means at least $200 billion a year for a couple of years,'' said a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee staff.
On October 31, 2008, economist Paul Krugman wrote:
No, what the economy needs now is something to take the place of retrenching consumers. That means a major fiscal stimulus. And this time the stimulus should take the form of actual government spending rather than rebate checks that consumers probably wouldn't spend.
Let's hope, then, that Congress gets to work on a package to rescue the economy as soon as the election is behind us.
On November 8, 2008, the Times reported:
Mr. Obama called on Congress and the Bush administration to pass an economic stimulus package. If an agreement cannot be reached this month in the lame-duck Congressional session, he said, it will be his chief goal when he takes office on Jan. 20.
He said it was an ''urgent priority'' to extend unemployment insurance benefits for workers who could not find jobs in the bleak economy. He also said he would give aid to states, create new jobs and move forward with his tax-cut plans for middle-class families.
On November 23, 2008 -- before publication of the Soros comments Beck cited -- the Times reported:
President-elect Barack Obama signaled on Saturday that he would pursue a far more ambitious plan of spending and tax cuts than anything he outlined on the campaign trail, setting the tone for a recovery effort that could absorb and define much of his term.
In the Democrats' weekly radio address, Mr. Obama said he would direct his economic team to craft a two-year stimulus plan with the goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs. He said it would be ''a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face.''
Mr. Obama said he hoped to sign the stimulus package into law soon after taking office on Jan. 20. He is already coordinating efforts with Democratic leaders in Congress, who have said they will begin work next month.
Although advisers say they have not begun to fill in the details, Mr. Obama's proposal would go beyond the $175 billion stimulus plan he proposed in October. That included a $3,000 tax credit to employers for each new hire above their current work force and billions in aid to states and cities.
Separately, Democratic leaders in Congress have been calling for a robust economic recovery initiative of up to $300 billion, including major investments in infrastructure to create jobs. President Bush has refused to consider a package so large, but even some conservative economists have said $300 billion is the minimum needed to spur the economy.
BECK CLAIM: Soros manipulated lawmakers to pursue cap and trade. Discussing the same Soros interview, published on November 24, 2008, Beck said:
BECK: Soros also heavily promotes green jobs and cap and trade. Also, days after Obama was elected, he called for a new energy bill. “I think this is a great opportunity to financially deal with global warming and energy independence. The U.S. needs a cap-and-trade system with the auctioning of licenses for emissions rights. I would use the revenues from these auctions to launch a new, environmentally friendly energy policy that would be yet another federal program that could help us overcome the current stagnation.”
Well, Congress introduced, but you stood up, and you said, “Uh, I don't think so.” Hm-mmm. The audience started to resolve. Cap and trade failed.
REALITY: Cap and trade has been debated in Congress for more than 10 years, and Obama supported a cap and trade bill during the 2008 election. Contrary to Beck's claim that Soros manipulated Obama to introduce cap and trade legislation “days after” he was elected, Congress has been debating similar proposals for more than a decade. In fact, then-Sen. Barack Obama supported legislation that would have created a cap and trade system while campaigning in 2008. Congress has debated forms of cap and trade legislation as far back as 2001.
Beck lies about Soros' past
BECK CLAIM: “Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, no.” Beck claimed that when Soros was 14, after the Nazis invaded his native Hungary, “he had to help the government confiscate the lands of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors.” Beck commented:
But when he had to go over and take the lands from the people, his Jewish friends and neighbors who were being sent to the gas chambers, I can't imagine what that would do to a teenager, or anybody, an adult. Well, what did it do to George Soros? In an interview with Steve Kroft, Soros was asked if he felt guilt at all about taking the property from the Jews as a teenager. He responded, no.
REALITY: Soros said he “had no role in taking away that property.” In his interview with Kroft, aired on the December 20, 1998, edition of 60 Minutes, Soros explained that he felt no guilt because he “had no role in taking away that property” (from Nexis, emphasis added):
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.
KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.
KROFT: I mean, that's--that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Mr. SOROS: Not -- not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't -- you don't see the connection. But it was--it created no--no problem at all.
KROFT: No feeling of guilt?
Mr. SOROS: No.
KROFT: For example that, 'I'm Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.' None of that?
Mr. SOROS: Well, of course I c -- I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was -- well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in markets -- that if I weren't there -- of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would -- would -- would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the--whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the -- I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.
REALITY: Biographer reported Soros “collaborated with no one.” In Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire -- a book cited by Beck during the program -- Michael T. Kaufman detailed Soros' reaction during the interview, as well as Soros' actions in Nazi-occupied Hungary:
While he was living with Baumbach as Sandor Kiss, an event occurred that more than a half a century later would become the basis of charges that George Soros, the international financier and billionaire, had somehow collaborated with the Nazi occupiers of his homeland and had exploited his fellow Jews. The issue was raised in a bizarre television profile and interview of Soros aired on the CBS television program 60 Minutes in December of 1998. In the segment, Steve Kroft, the interviewer, noted with prosecutorial gusto that George's father had “bribed a government official to swear that you were his godson,” and added that this survival strategy “carried a heavy price tag.” For, he continued, “as hundreds of thousands of Jews were being shipped off to the Nazi death camps, a thirteen-year-old George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his rounds, confiscating property from the Jews.” Visibly dumbfounded by the line of questioning, Soros could only manage to say that he had no role in the seizure of property and was merely a spectator. To underscore Kroft's point, film footage showed masses of Hungarian Jews being led away at gunpoint.
This is what actually happened. Shortly after George went to live with Baumbach, the man was assigned to take inventory on the vast estate of Mor Kornfeld, an extremely wealthy aristocrat of Jewish origin. The Kornfeld family had the wealth, wisdom, and connections to be able to leave some of its belongings behind in exchange for permission to make their way to Lisbon. Baumbach was ordered to go to the Kornfeld estate and inventory the artworks, furnishings, and other property. Rather than leave his “godson” behind in Budapest for three days, he took the boy with him. As Baumbach itemized the material, George walked around the grounds and spent time with Kornfeld's staff. It was his first visit to such a mansion, and the first time he rode a horse. He collaborated with no one and he paid attention to what he understood to be his primary responsibility: making sure that no one doubted that he was Sandor Kiss. Among his practical concerns was to make sure that no one saw him pee. [Page 37]
BECK CLAIM: Soros “attended the Fabian Socialist London School of Economics.” Beck said, “In 1947, the Soros family relocated from Hungary to England, where George attended the Fabian Socialist London School of Economics.”
REALITY: LSE is a mainstream university that many prominent conservatives have attended. While it is true that LSE was founded by four members of the Fabian Society 1895, Beck's suggestion that the school is a socialist indoctrination center is ridiculous. LSE alumni include:
- Sir Keith Murdoch, publisher of the Adelaide News, and father of Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox News' parent company
- Walter Bern, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
- Elliott Abrams, assistant secretary of state in the Reagan Administration; senior director of the National Security Council in the Bush Administration
- Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Bush administration
- Colm Connolly, United States Attorney under the Bush Administration
- Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation
- William Gale, Council of Economic Advisors for the Bush Administration
- Anthony Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice appointed by President Reagan
- Senator-elect Mark Kirk (R-IL)
- Richard Perle, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan Administration; chairman of Defense Department Advsory Committee for the Bush administration; fellow, American Enterprise Institute
- Stuart Varney, right-wing Fox Business host
- Christopher Ruddy, CEO and president of Newsmax Media
Beck falsely paints Soros as threat to America
BECK CLAIM: Soros is dangerous because he called for “a managed decline” of the dollar.
BECK: You wouldn't want a man like this anywhere near the president of the United States, would you? Soros has been granted at least four visits so far to the Obama White House. This, a man who has repeatedly called for the devaluation of the dollar.
SOROS: A slow decline in value of the dollar, a managed decline.
REALITY: Economists have said that a weakened dollar can provide broad economic benefits to U.S. The comments Beck cited come from a 2009 interview Soros gave to the Financial Times. In that interview Soros discussed concerns about the dollar's relative strength to the value of other international currencies. Soros said that “to some extent it's very helpful” when the dollar declines in value on the international market “because with the US consumers saving more and spending less, exports can be way for the US economy to be balanced. So an orderly decline of the dollar is actually desirable.”
In fact, economists including Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini, and Mark Zandi have said in the past that a weaker currency can provide economic benefits. Beck has previously distorted Soros' comments to falsely accuse him of orchestrating a collapse of the American currency to enrich himself.
BECK CLAIM: Soros “collapses regimes,” and America is “his target now.” Beck claimed:
BECK: Along with currencies, Soros also collapses regimes. With his Open Society Fund, which was founded in 1979, Soros has helped fund the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the Rose Revolution in Georgia. He also helped to engineer coups in Slovakia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia. So what is his target now? Us. America.
REALITY: Soros backed groups who were nonviolently opposed to Communist, authoritarian, or corrupt governments.
- The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, according to Radio Prague, “brought about the bloodless overthrow of the Czechoslovak communist regime.” It also brought about the independence of Slovakia, and that country's eventual inclusion in NATO.
- A January 24, 2005, Washington Post article described the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and its origins: “After the first runoff election on Nov. 21, which international observers said was marked by widespread fraud, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians poured into the streets to protest, and Independence Square became the focal point of peaceful demonstrations.” During the campaign, opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko suffered from dioxin poisoning under mysterious circumstances.
- In 2005, the BBC explained that “Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the flawed results of a parliamentary election” in Georgia's Rose Revolution and that “Not one person was injured, not a drop of blood was spilled.” The Rose Revolution brought about the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili, who was praised by Glenn Beck in 2008 for his Western-friendly reforms.
- In 2000, Stipe Mesic was elected President of Croatia, and the BBC described his campaign: “He espoused a clean break from Mr [Franjo] Tudjman's authoritarianism, which had left the country internationally isolated and in economic recession.” Groups backed by Soros had opposed the government of Tudjman.
- In the former Yugoslavia, Soros supported Otpor, an organization opposed to Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. After Milosevic stepped down, he was charged with international war crimes.
Beck falsely attacks progressives
BECK CLAIM: Van Jones is “a communist revolutionary.” From Glenn Beck:
BECK: Van Jones said something that bothered me over the summer. I mean, he's said a lot of things over the years that have bothered me, but one comment in particular over the summer stuck with me. And it was this:
JONES [video clip]: You handle the top down. But it's also bottom up and inside-out. Top down, bottom up, and inside-out. So now your challenge as you leave here, our challenge is to take care of that bottom-up part and that inside-out part. The hard part.
BECK: That's not -- that bothered me, because I know who this guy is. He's a communist revolutionary, a guy who pined for the days of Stalin -- the Iron Curtain went down. Something's wrong there. Well, it really bothered me until recently when I started looking into all the George Soros connections and the size and the scope of his reach.
REALITY: Jones is no longer a communist. From a September 1, 2009, PolitiFact article about Beck's prior assertion that Jones “is an avowed, self-avowed radical revolutionary communist”:
Beck would have been on solid ground if he said Jones used to be a communist. Jones has been up front about that.
But Beck has repeatedly said Jones is a communist. Present tense. Although we could not find a comment in which Jones explicitly said why he is no longer one, we found ample evidence that he now believes capitalism is the best force for the social change he is seeking. So there's truth to Beck's claim in that Jones was a communist, but it's apparent he isn't any longer, as Beck suggests.
BECK CLAIM: OSI president Neier founded “violent” SDS and is responsible for “what they did in the '60's.” Beck said of Aryeh Neier, president of Soros' Open Society Institute:
The Open Society Institute is George Soros' most important group. It is really spectacular. It is his philanthropist arm. This is where he really -- he looks for Mother Teresa to give out his precious money. And, boy, did he find Mother Teresa. Well, not exactly. He found, to head this organization, the founder of the violent activist group SDS, Students for a Democratic Society. You don't know what they did in the '60s? You will. One string, $425 million every single year. The strings that are being pulled by the puppet master.
REALITY: Neier says he had “little influence” on SDS as early as 1960 and opposed its direction because he was “anti-Soviet and anti-Communist.” In his 2003 autobiography, Taking Liberties: Four Decades in the Struggle for Rights, Neier writes (pages xx-xxi, emphasis added):
As director of LID [the League of Industrial Democracy], I decided to try to invigorate its student division. One step in that direction was to rename it. “Student League for Industrial Democracy” sounded like what it was: a leftover from an earlier era. Accordingly, in 1959, I renamed it Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and hired a University of Michigan dropout, Al Haber, to become the group's principal organizer.
I hired two student organizers. One was a University of Michigan friend of Al Haber, Tom Hayden, who was already active in SDS. Soon after hiring Hayden, however, it became clear that he and I had fundamental differences, and I fired him. It was too late. He had established his leadership of SDS and took it in a direction I did not endorse.
I left my post as director of LID in 1960 and became an editor of a short-lived monthly public affairs journal that deserved its early demise. At the same time, I continued as a member of the LID's board and, along with Michael Harrington, who became the organization's chairman, opposed the ways its student affiliate, SDS, was developing. I was unenthusiastic about the 1962 “Port Huron statement” drafted by Hayden. I was anti-Soviet and anti-Communist and was appalled by arguments that Soviet repression and the invasion of Hungary were defensive actions in response to Cold War aggression for which the United States bore prime responsibility. Also, the language about “participatory democracy” sounded to me like a justification for demagogy. Like others on the LID board, I exerted little influence. We wanted to hold on to SDS because its work on college campuses was making headway and had become the organization's raison d'être. SDS probably wished to preserve its ties to the parent group mainly because that is where the money came from. After a time, however, it became plain to both sides that the relationship between LID and SDS had to be severed.
REALITY: As of 1962, SDS opposed violence. The group's 1962 Port Huron statement said:
In social change or interchange, we find violence to be abhorrent because it requires generally the transformation of the target, be it a human being or a community of people, into a depersonalized object of hate. It is imperative that the means of violence be abolished and the institutions -- local, national, international -- that encourage nonviolence as a condition of conflict be developed.
BECK CLAIM: Tides Foundation gets “a lot of their funding” from Soros. Beck said: “And where does the Tides Foundation get a lot of their funding? George Soros.”
REALITY: Tides founder says Soros' charity funds “far less than 5 percent” of Tides' budget. From a Politico op-ed by Tides founder Drummond Pike:
As a public charity, Tides is not owned by Soros, nor was it started by him. Soros is the founder and chairman of the Open Society Institute. It is just one of hundreds of funders that partner with Tides in programs to promote economic justice, democratic processes and human rights.
The Open Society funds are only a small percentage of Tides' total contributions -- far less than 5 percent of our $112 million total in 2009.