Glenn Beck has regularly defended precious metals dealer and advertiser Goldline (for whom he's done personal testimonials) against congressional scrutiny by touting the company's "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). But reports have surfaced, from Mother Jones and ABC, that the BBB's ratings have more to do with how much money a company pays the bureau than what sort of service the business provides to its customers. Now, ABC News reports that the BBB has acknowledged "automatically giv[ing] better grades to its member businesses" is changing their policy on payments and ratings:
Under fire for its controversial rating system, the Better Business Bureau has announced that it will no longer automatically give better grades to its member businesses. The action comes on the heels of an ABC News investigation into allegations that the BBB is running a "pay to play" scheme in which A plus ratings are only awarded to those businesses that pay membership fees, and lower grades are given to those who don't.
However, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a prominent critic of the BBB's rating system, said he remained "troubled" by the system and wanted the BBB to make more extensive changes.
Steve Cox, the CEO and President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, announced that by next week the BBB ratings system will no longer give extra points to businesses that pay for accreditation. Under the current system, extra points are awarded to member businesses and only those that are accredited can receive the coveted A plus rating. In addition, the BBB announced that it will conduct a review of its accrediting process and "as soon as possible, make changes that will apply system-wide." The BBB says an "independent third party" will assist in the review process.
If it wasn't clear before, it is now - the "A+" rating mantra repeated by Beck doesn't appear to have any serious independent authority behind it.
Fox's Shannon Bream, while discussing the recent cancellation of President Obama's scheduled meeting with congressional Republicans, pushed the ridiculously untrue claim about the meeting between Obama and the House GOP in January.
Bream claims there was a "brouhaha" associated with the meeting, reporting that "a lot" of House Republicans said that they "didn't know he was coming."
But as Talking Points Memo has explained, this is clearly untrue. House Republicans knew in advance that Obama planned to attend the meeting, with Rep. Mike Pence (chairman of the House Republican Conference) issuing a press release thanking the President for "accept[ing] our invitation" to attend.
At the same time both Politico and The Hill, among others, reported on the planned visit. It wasn't a surprise to anyone. As far as people knowing about Obama's attendance in advance, there was no "brouhaha."
Bream's overarching premise - that the "brouhaha" over the previous meeting caused the current meeting's cancellation - also falls apart as the Senate GOP leadership's spokesman explained that "The meeting was scheduled for November 30th, because it didn't work this week and because that's the date that worked for everybody -- period." According to washingtonpost.com's Greg Sargent, "I have not been able to find a single GOP aide who actually subscribes to the 'ambush' myth, either on or off the record."
There was no ambush, there was no brouhaha, and the cancellation wasn't caused by worry over the nonexistent previous brouhaha. Everything Bream said about this was untrue.
Goldline is a major sponsor of Glenn Beck's radio and TV shows for which he has personally recorded testimonials. Recently, the precious metal company has been probed by Rep. Anthony Weiner, and the firm is under investigation by district attorneys in Los Angeles and Santa Monica for allegedly deceptive business practices.
One of Beck's stock defenses of Goldline is that they have an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and thus cannot be involved in anything shady. But in May, Mother Jones reported that a company's ratings from BBB may be tied in to whether that firm pays to join the bureau.
Tonight, ABC News confirmed Mother Jones' investigation:
ABC's Brian Ross reports on widespread complaints from business owners about issues with the BBB ratings stem. The story also notes that a nonexistent sushi restaurant received an "A-" from BBB, while celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck received an "F," which he says is a result of refusing to pay the bureau. A business owner working with ABC saw her business go from a "C" to a "A+" the day after she gave money to BBB.
Ross further reports that Stormfront, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "popular online forum for white nationalists and other racial extremists" received an "A+" from the BBB. Just like Goldline.
It will be interesting to see whether Beck chooses to ignore this report, or finds a way to work it into the conspiracy he claims is arrayed against Goldline.
UPDATE: ABC's 20/20 ran a longer version of this story, which can be seen below:
Glenn Beck conspiracy time today roped in the American Constitution Society (ACS), who made the cardinal sin (in Beck's eyes) of receiving funding from the Open Society Institute.
BECK:He has donated more than $14 million to a group here in America called the American Constitution Society. Well that sounds great. Except this is a progressive legal group, with an area of focus on constitutional interpretation and change. The Constitution can be changed. But you do it not in the shadows. You do it not being invisible. You don't hide who you are. You change it through the amendment process.
Glenn Beck has claimed that News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch "would fire me" if he was "making up lies" about George Soros. But in the second part of Beck's multi-day special attacking Soros, he rehashed falsehoods from the first day and introduced additional false accusations.
We were promised revelations that would essentially bend our minds, details that would have us riveted to our TV screens, and vital information that would push us to breathlessly share information with our friends and neighbors. Instead, it appears as if Glenn Beck just ran out of steam right in the middle of his second anti-Soros show. The first hint of this was Beck unfurling a scroll with the names of groups that Soros has donated to, because... well, he donates a lot of money. To things.
Yesterday's show had considerably more content, and while most of it was demonstrably false, it was more useful than today's filler material, best exemplified by the following clip:
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."
Here are the people and organizations featured in Glenn Beck's discussion Tuesday of what he described as the various "puppets" being controlled by George Soros in order to create a "shadow government" in America:
Barack Obama ("perhaps")
Center For American Progress
Color Of Change
Department Of Energy
Ella Baker Center
Environmental Protection Agency
Media Matters for America
National Council Of La Raza
Open Society Institute
Open Society Foundation
People For The American Way
SEIU (Service Employees International Union)
Students For A Democratic Society (SDS)
As Glenn Beck has explained to us numerous times, he really doesn't like Woodrow Wilson. How much? In the middle of his heavily promoted attack on George Soros, Beck shoehorned in an attack on Wilson, by way of Edward Bernays.
How did Beck get there? He claimed Soros was orchestrating a puppet show (and literally played with puppets to get the point across), which he then compared to Bernays' book Propaganda. Beck cited a passage that references "invisible government," and idea Beck said was "like shadow government," which of course led him back to his conspiracy about the organizations Soros donates to.
The magic connection here, of course, was Woodrow Wilson, who appointed Bernays to create public sentiment in favor of World War I. Beck sees the invisible hand of Wilson behind all of the machinations that he perceives progressives to be involved in. He blames Wilson for single-handedly bringing about direct election of senators, excludes him from his role in women's suffrage, and in general mangles the history around Wilson's presidency beyond all recognition.
What's the Woodrow Wilson connection to George Soros? There isn't any. Glenn Beck just doesn't like either person, so he threw the attack together.
On today's Fox News show, Glenn Beck noted George Soros' past support of various political movements in Europe and claimed Soros is attempting to recreate similar revolutionary changes of regime in America:
As examples, Beck cited Soros' purported roles in the Rose Revolution (Georgia), the Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and the Velvet Revolution (Czechoslovakia), as well as "coups" in Croatia and Yugoslavia. Author Richard Poe then connected Soros' previous work to Beck's accusation that Soros' "target" is the United States.
Unmentioned in Beck's program, but revealed in Shadow Party, the book Poe co-wrote and which appears to be the source material for a lot of the information being presented by Beck about Soros, is the fact that many of the governments Soros supposedly helped bring down were autocratic ones, often headed by former Communist leaders.
Shadow Party explains that "Soros helped bankroll the 'velvet revolution' that hastened the fall of a dying Communist regime and catapulted dissident playwright Vaclav Havel to the presidency of the Czech Republic." (Shadow Party, p. 231) The Velvet Revolution led to the establishment of Slovakia as an independent nation and eventual inclusion in NATO.
Shadow Party also goes on to note that Soros' support for the Otpor organization in Yugoslavia helped to bring about the end of Slobodan Milosevic's reign, and points out that the International Criminal Tribunal later charged Milosevic with crimes against humanity.
Similarly, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine was a non-violent response to a disputed election that involved poisonings and assassination attempts. And the Rose Revolution replaced Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, a former Soviet official, with Mikheil Saakashvili, who Beck himself has heavily praised.
Beck claims that Soros helped to engineer a "coup" in Croatia, but this seems to be a reference to Soros' opposition to Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, who died in office and was replaced by Stipe Mesic. The BBC explained Mesic's election this way: "He espoused a clean break from Mr Tudjman's authoritarianism, which had left the country internationally isolated and in economic recession."
Meanwhile, Beck disappears completely Soros' role funding anti-Communist dissidents like Poland's Solidarity movement, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union.
These details were completely excluded as Beck sought to sell a story of controlled revolution within America, going so far as to exclude the accurate information from an otherwise unreliable book.