Beck Walks All Over Detroit In Pursuit Of "His Own Agenda"


For the past week, Glenn Beck has been heavily criticized for bashing Detroit and for comparing the Michigan city to Hiroshima after it was bombed during World War II. This isn't the first time Beck has railed against the city; he has attacked Detroit for years in pursuit of what one local pastor calls "his agenda."

Detroit Pastors Challenge Beck's Attacks On Their City

Detroit Pastors: There Is A Side To Detroit "That's Often Ignored In These Negative Portrayals And Pounding." Following Beck's Detroit-Hiroshima comparison, two Detroit pastors, Reverend Horace Sheffield and Reverend Charles Williams, reportedly requested a meeting with Beck to try to "give [him] a clearer perspective" of the city. reported:

"We indicated that we weren't here to rant and rave and jump on tables but we thought there was another side to the story that's often ignored in these negative portrayals and pounding on Detroit," Sheffield said.

The two ministers had a conversation with a program director and exchanged e-mails with Beck's producer.

Sheffield said the goal is to sit down and discuss issues.

"Detroit is much more than the few vignettes that were shown. I mean, Detroit is a city that could have gone down the tubers if people had not stayed inside and fought and the last is going to be first. So just stay tuned, we're not through yet," Sheffield said. [, 3/2/11] Sheffield "Believes That Beck Simplified Detroit's Story To Serve His Own Agenda." In a March 4 article reporting on how Beck did not meet with Sheffield and other pastors to discuss his comments, Jonathan Oosting wrote:

Sheffield -- along with Rev. Charles Williams an attorney Karen DeSoto, who has appeared as a guest on Fox News -- attempted to confront Beck in NYC for "a broader discussion as opposed to just his diatribe," he told host Frank Beckmann Thursday on WJR-AM 760.

To no one's surprise, Beck didn't take the meeting. But Sheffield said he talked with program director Bill Schein and laid the groundwork for a future conversation.

"My message, quite simply, was that we're in the process of reframing Detroit," Sheffield said, noting he didn't disagree with Beck on all fronts. "People have a rather narrow lens through which they judge us. Yes, we have some responsibility to get out of where we find ourselves. There has been political corruption. There is crime. There is decay.

"But on the other hand there's an ignoral of year's of social policy, the decline of population and other some other factors that have led to Detroit being in the situation it is."

Sheffield, who previously challenged NBC executives over an hour-long Dateline special on Detroit," believes that Beck simplified Detroit's story to serve his own agenda. In the process, he said, Beck failed to address the citizens struggling to make a difference in their city despite recent corruption.

"The social decay, the physical blight that exists and is a drain," he said."It's a pull on the spirit. But my whole point is Glenn Beck's perception is not Detroit's reality." [, 3/4/11]

Beck Has A Long History Of Skewering Detroit

Beck Invokes The "Perfect Storm" To Claim "America Will Look Like Detroit In The End." Discussing Detroit with a caller, Beck outlined what he called the "perfect storm" that hit the city and "caused [it] to go down." He then argued that "America will look like Detroit in the end":

BECK: Detroit was one of America's great cities at one point, and great, great culture came out of Detroit. Unfortunately, and it's not one -- just one thing that caused Detroit to go down. To blame it on labor unions is naïve. To blame it on the big three automakers -- I should say the big two automakers. Ford, I don't think, has ever asked for a bailout, have they?


BECK: They never took it, and I don't think they ever have. Chrysler did and GM did. Those were bad corporations that were never allowed to fail. Then you had the labor unions who were pushing them to the brink. Then you had corruption in the government and you've had at least 50 years of progressive policies. That is the perfect storm, right there. Corruption, businesses not laying -- being allowed to fail, labor unions pushing all of the buttons to the edge of disaster -- I mean, that's what we're engaging in now. And America will look like Detroit in the end. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 3/3/11]

Beck: "I Don't Even Know If There Are Lights Left In Detroit." On his radio show, Beck agreed with a caller who declared that her father was "prophetic" when he said that "the unions are going to ruin" Detroit. Beck then addressed the criticism surrounding his Hiroshima comments:

BECK: He was right. It was the unions. It was bad companies. It was the progressive lock on that city for more than 50 years. That's what happens. Now, Detroit is killing me for what I did last night. I guess we led the 11 o'clock news on most channels last night in Detroit. I don't know -- I mean, what are there four people left watching the local news in Detroit? I don't even know how many people are even left in Detroit?

Last one out -- well, don't turn off the lights 'cause I don't -- I mean, I don't even know if there are lights left in Detroit. But it is true. And you can either -- you know, don't kill the messenger. It is the progressive policies, along with bad companies not allowed to fail and out-of-control unions that killed Detroit. Wanna fix it? Stop those three things. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 3/1/11]

Beck Likens Detroit To Hiroshima "Destruction." On his Fox News show, Beck cited Detroit as an example of the "the kind of dream progressive policies lead to," and stated:

BECK: Here's a city that when Hiroshima looked like it did in destruction, this city looked like this. It was thriving. It's Detroit, Michigan. But take a look at Detroit today. One city embraced the free-market system and the entrepreneurial spirit; the other embraced progressive policies and corrupt government and unions, and companies that weren't allowed to fail -- and they should've failed 'cause they stunk on ice. They begged for a bailout and got one, and the union bosses did their fair share, too. Whereas, Hiroshima has nearly quadrupled in size since the attack. Not so much with Detroit.


BECK: Oh, you can blame Ford and GM -- their bad corporate policies, and those policies because of the progressives weren't allowed to reset. Nobody allowed them to fail. Bad policies and union deals helped rot this city from the core. This is the path, America, that we are now embracing. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/28/11]

Beck: "Show Me The People That Have Been Empowered In Detroit. ... They're Enslaved." Arguing that the government, because of new health and education guidelines, is trying to "destroy" man's capability to rule himself, and is "destroying empowerment," Beck stated:

BECK: You tell me that the government isn't destroying empowerment. Look at every city where the progressive left have had control. Show me where -- show me the people that have been empowered in Detroit. Show me the people that have been empowered in Oakland. Show me the people that have been powered in Washington, D.C. They're not empowered; they're enslaved. And show me how the government is encouraging entrepreneur and the small businessman. Show it to me. They're not. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 2/1/11]

Beck: "Have You Been To Detroit? It More Resembles The Ruins Of Persepolis Than Anything In America." On his Fox News show, Beck singled out Detroit as one of the cities that "have been controlled by progressive Democrats for decades," and stated:

BECK: Now, let's look at the cities, shall we, that have been controlled by progressive Democrats for decades -- like Detroit. Have you seen the latest from the Guardian? It's a photo slide show of the ruins of Detroit.


BECK: Have you been to Detroit? It's -- it more resembles the ruins of Persepolis than anything in America. There you go, the ruins. Actually, that looks nicer than Detroit. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 1/5/11]

Beck On Foreign Aid To Haiti: "Have You Been To Detroit Lately, Mr. President?" Commenting on foreign aid to Haiti in the wake of that country's massive earthquake, Beck stated:

BECK: I support going in with the Army, Navy, Air Force infrastructure, everything we have, to help secure Haiti because the people need to be safe. And we are the ones with the giant ships that are hospitals, and they're in our neighborhood, and we need to do that. But let the private sector pour in the aid; let the private sector spend the money there. Instead, Barack Obama is gonna go back and he's gonna rebuild that country -- and they're already talking about how we're going to rebuild it. Have you been to Detroit lately, Mr. President? You're not the best at rebuilding anything. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 1/15/10]

Beck: "No Offense, Detroit, But -- I Mean, Does Your Electricity Even Work Anymore?" While attacking the health care reform bill that had yet to become law, Beck stated:

BECK: Well, the other day I had the AARP people here. And I said, "How can you possibly be for health care," and they said, "Oh, we don't see anything hurtful to seniors in that health care package. It looks great to us."

And to me, that sounded the same as, "Well, Glenn, I just found out I'm related to a Nigerian prince. He's going to wire me $10 million. All I have to do is give him $10,000 and my bank account number," and you're like, "No, no, no, that's a scam." "Oh, stop it, you're crazy. It doesn't say anywhere in the e-mail that it's a scam, plus, he made a promise with his pinky."

How many times have politicians promised us, both Republicans and Democrats, have promised us the moon and given us Detroit? No offense, Detroit, but -- I mean, does your electricity even work anymore? You keep on voting in the same people, and in Detroit, the median home price now is $7,500. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 8/6/09, via Nexis]

Beck Likens Detroit To "Mosquito Infested," "Desolate, Frozen Tundra." While advocating for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Beck stated:

BECK: Now let's look at the way the media loves to portray this area. They usually show you things like this, a beautiful picture of gorgeous mountains and flowery valleys. Or maybe this, oh, it's a rainbow reaching down from the mountaintop. Where's Julie Andrews?

The truth is the pictures I just showed you are of ANWR, but did it look like a coastal plain to you? No. Those pictures are all taken in the southern part of ANWR where everything is majestic and pristine and where, more importantly, nobody is even asking to drill there.

It's like taking a picture of one house, a nice one, the one that exists in downtown Detroit, and then saying we should never, ever renovate another building in Detroit. I mean, look how beautiful it is there. You're kidding me, right?

The pictures you see of ANWR on TV do not represent the area that anyone is talking about drilling in. So what does that area actually look like? Well, here are a few pictures that the "National Review's" Jonah Goldberg took. He took a trip out there.

Wow, look how pretty that is. It's flat, it's watery. Mosquito infested for your enjoyment during the summer months. It looks exactly like Prudhoe Bay which is just a couple hundred miles in the other direction. We have been drilling for oil there for years. And when all the cute caribou leave for the winter, ANWR looks even more like Prudhoe Bay; a snowy, barren wasteland that, I say, looks pretty good with that big oil well sticking out of it.

Now, if you don't want to drill in a desolate, frozen tundra we bought for its natural resources, that's fine. I think you're an idiot, but who am I to judge? [CNN Headline News, Glenn Beck, 7/23/08, via Nexis]

Beck: "I'm Driving Into Detroit And I Swear To You It Looks Like Baghdad." On his CNN Headline News show, Beck likened Detroit to Baghdad, adding, "It is in bad shape." From the show:

CHRIS GARDNER (author): Let's look at not just how many jobs we've lost in this country, we've lost a few industries. I was in Detroit recently and I've got to tell you I love the city, it will never be the same.

BECK: Come on man.

GARDNER: It will never be the same.

BECK: I landed in Detroit about a month ago. I'm driving into Detroit and I swear to you it looks like Baghdad. It is in bad shape.

GARDNER: There is no traffic. You know why there's no traffic there? Ain't nobody got any place to go. There's no jobs.

BECK: But isn't that because of bad government?

GARDNER: You know what?

BECK: Texas, they are creating jobs left and right in Texas.

GARDNER: A portion of it might be bad government. But what about the guys who are running the automotive industry who didn't see it coming? Who didn't see, whoa, wait a minute, we've got to create a new kind of product.

BECK: You had to be blind. [CNN Headline News, Glenn Beck, 3/7/08, via Nexis]

Beck Conjures Imagery Of Detroit "On Fire." Talking about a recent trip to Detroit, Beck stated that the city "looks like Baghdad." He added: "I look out, and there are fuel refineries out there. My first thought was Detroit is on fire." From the show:

STEPHEN MOORE (The Wall Street Journal): I grew up in Chicago -- we used to actually take trips to Michigan in the '60s and early '70s. And, you know, it was the symbol of America's economic industrial might.

BECK: Right.

MOORE: You know, you'd go to those steel companies and you'd go to the auto firms and see them churning out these products. And it's sort of sad to see what's happened to this great state, that it's in -- I think Michigan is in a depression right now.

BECK: Oh, I think -- I think Detroit is -- Detroit looks like Baghdad. It really does. There are parts of it -- I mean, I was up at the top of the General Motors building having dinner, I don't know, a few months back, and I look out, and there are fuel refineries out there. My first thought was Detroit is on fire.

MOORE: Yes. But, you know, the interesting thing about the auto industry is, you know, in the last 10 years or so, we've actually been gaining auto jobs in other states outside of Michigan. [CNN Headline News, Glenn Beck, 1/14/08, via Nexis]

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