Media Matters: Will Glenn Beck's The Blaze follow Breitbart's trail?


Glenn Beck has a three-hour radio show, a one-hour television show, regular guest slots on Fox News and Fox Business, and a subscription website. Still, he doesn't have enough hours in the day for some of the "stories that matter most."

"I hired some journalists because there are stories I don't have enough broadcast hours in a day to cover them and somebody has got to cover them," Beck told viewers on September 1 while discussing his new online media site, The Blaze.

Anyone remotely familiar with Beck knows he's notoriously thin-skinned, resulting in copious amounts of time defending himself and his brand. So it's little surprise that the topic most important to Glenn Beck's The Blaze is Glenn Beck.

Within several days after launching, some of the site's stories include such page-scrollers as "NY Times Columnist on Beck: 'I Underestimated the Man,'" "Columnist: Sharpton, Not Beck, Distorts MLK's Legacy," and "Slideshow: Newspaper Coverage of 8/28."

If Beck confines his website to "Glenn is great" stories, then there's ultimately no harm, no foul. But in an "exclusive" press release -- or what Mediaite refers to as an "article" -- about the site, Beck said he envisions The Blaze as having "reporting, insightful opinions and engaging videos about the stories that matter most ... I look forward to keeping [editor] Scott [Baker] and his team busy by sending countless ideas at 3am every morning." (So far, "insight" and "reporting" have been lacking.)

As Media Matters has documented, the conservative web has tried its hand at "reporting, insightful opinions, and engaging videos" -- and done it badly.

Exhibit A comes in the form of Andrew Breitbart, who -- in the words of Shep Smith -- runs a "widely discredited website" that posts "inaccurate" and "edited" videos. Breitbart, of course, was widely criticized for posting misleading videos about ACORN, and then came back for an encore by posting another deceptive tape, this time wrongly accusing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod of racism. Those two incidents are the most high-profile of a long rap sheet against Breitbart.

How does Glenn Beck feel about Andrew Breitbart? You don't have to read between any lines to see that Beck views him as an inspiration -- one of the "great journalists of our time" and a future chapter in history books:

  • "You [Andrew Breitbart] are in instrumental in changing America. I think the history books will - I mean, assuming that our side wins - the history book will reflect your service to the country." (February 12, Fox News)
  • "Thank goodness, and Andrew Breitbart are always watching, as are we." (December 7, 2009, Fox News)
  • "You know where the great journalists of our time are? Andrew Breitbart. I was just thinking when I was listening to this, I mean this Andrew. You are the only one -- you were the only one, besides watchdogs, that were really aggressively working behind the scenes with us on Van Jones." (September 10, radio)
  • "Andrew Breitbart brought this to my attention. He called me the other day. And I wanted to bring it to your attention - the National People's Action group. This action group - this is yet another community organizing group that makes ACORN look like a Sunday morning, you know, knitting clutch." (May 4, Fox News)
  • "Well, Andrew Breitbart from brought this video to my attention, and I've got to show it to you. We'll show it all tomorrow. But this is SEIU's president Andy Stern on the real motives of the unions." (March 2, Fox News)

As Media Matters has documented, Beck has frequently turned to Breitbart for stories and inspiration. Indeed, Beck was perhaps the media figure most responsible for pushing the ACORN story into the mainstream.

So when it came to launching his own site, Beck turned to one of Breitbart's top lieutenants, Scott Baker, who co-founded and served as vice president for business development at Under Baker, launched a litany of false and misleading videos and stories against progressives, such as smearing Department of Education staffer Kevin Jennings and posting a doctored video falsely claiming community organizers were "praying" to Obama.

Breitbart also hired Pam Key who, as Terry Krepel noted, is the activist behind the Breitbart-promoted operation Naked Emperor News. Key's videos are notorious for attacking the Obama administration while omitting necessary context (a la Breitbart).

After the Sherrod fiasco blew up in Breitbart's face,'s First Read blog wrote, "you would have thought that all of us in the ACTUAL news business would have learned this lesson about Andrew Breitbart and his protégés: They're not out for the truth; they're out for scalps."

Similarly, if Glenn Beck's track record on television and radio isn't enough to disqualify his new website as anything other than a dubious exercise in new media, surely his Breitbart-infused vision of "great" new media journalism is.

Dick Morris: Fox News' traveling GOP salesman

Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris is a busy man. According to The Hill, Morris plans "to campaign for some 40 Republican congressional candidates in 2010."

Last month, for instance, Morris hit the campaign trail for Ohio congressional candidates Bill Johnson, Bob Gibbs, and Tom Ganley. The event reportedly featured a 5 p.m. "private reception and roundtable discussion with Morris, costing $2,400 a person. The cost also includes a photo with Morris and an autographed copy of his latest book, '2010: Take Back America.' It costs $500 a person for a private reception, photo and book signing at 5:45 p.m."

Morris also headlined a fundraiser for congressional candidate Scott Tipton, costing a minimum of $50 per person, with a "special VIP reception" at $500 per person.

None of the GOP fundraising and advocacy would be possible -- or even relevant -- if not for one important party: Fox News.

Consider, for instance, how Morris' appearance at an event for West Virginia congressional candidate David McKinley was described this week at the very top of a local TV station's 6 p.m. newscast:

"A Fox News commentator is here in the mid-Ohio valley for a local candidate."

The station then aired video of McKinley explaining why he brought in Morris: "I think people that have followed Fox News and get a lot of their news that way, maybe this is something that they can relate to. But this man has a national voice that understands this economy."

Indeed, throughout events across the country, Morris is often sold by touting his Fox News affiliation.

Morris' off-air boosterism is only compounded by the fact that he continues it on-air. Recently, Morris suggested that viewers donate to the anti-Harry Reid group Americans for New Leadership -- a group for which Morris is currently fundraising and helping with ad strategy. In February, the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania paid Morris $10,000 for speaking at its 2010 Lincoln Day Dinner. Following the payment, Morris repeatedly appeared on Fox News to discuss Pennsylvania politics and shill for Pennsylvania Republicans and causes. And Morris appeared on Fox News twice to tout then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum -- after hosting a pricey fundraiser for him. In none of the previously mentioned incidents did Morris disclose his ties.

Still, Fox News doesn't appear to care about any of Morris' GOP activism despite the fact that he's one of the channel's most frequent on-air commentators. According to a Nexis search of available Fox News programs -- this typically excludes Fox & Friends and daytime programming -- Morris has appeared on Fox News a whopping 110 times in the past year.

This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Media Matters research fellow Eric Hananoki.

Dick Morris, Glenn Beck
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