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Investigations

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  • Beck's "Restoring Courage" Travel Agency Run By Falwell's Right-Hand Man

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    WestoverDuCar International is one of two agencies exclusively providing travel arrangements and tickets for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Courage" event in Israel. Packages start at $4,999, and go up to $5,499 for the "VIP" experience. The other agency is Humanitarian Travel.

    The agency is owned and operated by Duke and Carlene Westover ("DuCar" is a combination of their names) of Lynchburg, VA. DuCar's website advertises their Christian-themed tours of Israel: "Out of a deep desire to introduce as many people to the Bible and the Land of the Bible as possible, in 1981 DuCar International Tours was formed."

    Duke Westover worked as executive assistant to the late Jerry Falwell. According to Religion News Service, Westover prayed near the beginning of Falwell's funeral in 2007, describing Falwell as, "The one who dared to believe that he could change a city and a country and a culture and maybe even the world." In his self-published book Wow! What A Ride Westover describes Falwell as "my pastor, my mentor, my boss, my traveling companion and most of all, my best friend."

    DuCar offers tours of Israel led by Jonathan Falwell, Jerry Falwell's son. He took over as senior pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church after the death of Rev. Falwell.

    DuCar advertises a tour of Israel to Liberty University students and promises them "the opportunity to earn 3 credit hours from your trip." Liberty University was founded by Jerry Falwell, and in 2010 gave commencement speaker Glenn Beck an honorary degree.

  • Beck's Israel Travel Partner Got An "F" From Better Business Bureau

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Beck TripOne of the travel companies chosen by Glenn Beck to provide travel arrangements and tickets for his "Restoring Courage" rally in Israel has closely related businesses that have received "C-" and "F" ratings from the Better Business Bureau. Beck previously cited a company's "A+" rating as an example of its trustworthiness.

    Goldline, an advertiser on Beck's radio show, TV show, and website, faced allegations of deceptive business practices and was the subject of a congressional hearing. Beck repeatedly defended Goldline, citing its "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau as proof that the allegations were false. ABC News later reported that BBB gave ratings to nonexistent businesses and raised the ratings for businesses who gave them money.

    The validity of BBB ratings are still an open question, but Beck seems willing to disregard his previous position in order to promote his event.

    Beck824.com is listed on GlennBeck.com as one of two "tour providers" that have tickets to the 8/24 "Restoring Courage" event. Beck's site also says, "No other travel agency operator[s] have access to the 'Restoring Courage' events" and that "If you do not purchase your travel package through one of these two tour providers you will not have tickets to any of Glenn Beck's 'Restoring Courage' events."

    The link to Beck824.com redirects to Humanitarian Travel, a business whose address is in Draper, Utah. The site sells Beck travel packages starting at $4,997 per person. This travel company has apparently done business under at least four different names (Voyager Travel, Humanitarian Travel, Meridian Trips, and LDS Travel) all with the same management and business address.

    In an e-mail, Brian Mickelsen (who is listed on a cached page as the president of Voyager Travel) told Media Matters that, "the business has different dba [doing business as] /web names for the specific purpose of marketing to different market segments."

  • FOXLEAKS: Fox Caught Scripting Socialism Attack

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    "Isn't that what they do in socialist countries?"

    Steve Doocy's question sounded like a spontaneous reaction to what he apparently saw as the threat Barack Obama would pose to freedom of the press.

    It wasn't.

    The Fox News host's inflammatory question had, in fact, been scripted the night before in an email sent by a Fox producer.

    The incident, which occurred on the October 27, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, came during what appears to have been a network-wide campaign to tie Obama to socialism in the month leading up to the presidential election. Internal Fox documents obtained by Media Matters and a review of the network's pre-election coverage show that Fox hosts, producers, and other journalists were involved in the effort.

    October 27 was also the day that Fox's then-deputy managing editor Bill Sammon sent an internal email referencing what he described in the subject line as "Obama's references to socialism, liberalism, Marxism and Marxists in his autobiography, 'Dreams from My Father.' " Sammon appeared on multiple Fox shows to discuss his "research" and also wrote a FoxNews.com piece about Obama's "affinity to Marxists."

    The events leading up to Doocy's "socialist" question began four days earlier, when WFTV (ABC's Orlando affiliate) anchor Barbara West interviewed Joe Biden. During the interview, West suggested Obama's infamous exchange with "Joe the Plumber" -- in which Obama had advocated, "spread[ing] the wealth around" -- was a "potentially crushing political blunder."

    West then asked: "You may recognize this famous quote: 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.' That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?"

    "Are you joking?" asked a stunned Biden. "Is this a joke?"

    "No," said West. "That's a question."

    In response to West's interview, the Obama campaign reportedly cancelled a planned appearance by Jill Biden on WFTV and told the station, "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election."

    On the evening of October 26, a Fox producer named Elizabeth Fanning emailed an outline of the next morning's Fox & Friends to numerous staffers at the network. The document, obtained by Media Matters, listed five separate segments about the WFTV interview that were scheduled for the October 27 show. For each segment, the document listed an identical series of questions, including: "Isn't this what happens in communist countries?"

    And that's almost exactly what Doocy said on the air. Interviewing Fox contributor Michelle Malkin, Doocy asked, "Isn't that what they do in socialist countries?"