No surprise, since this is the Beltway press' standard operating procedure when covering leaders of the conservative media: categorically refusing to spell out to readers what they actually say that makes them so controversial. In its A1 Beck profile on Monday, the Times dutifully follows those guidelines while adding in the twist of not quoting a single liberal who's critical of Fox News' cuckoo, pseudo-End Times host.
Here's how the Times politely dances around Beck's anti-government conspiratorial nuttiness, which has prompted even Fox anchors and conservative guests to mock him on the air. According to the paper, Beck offers up a "a mix of moral lessons, outrage and an apocalyptic view of the future" and "preaches against politicians, hosts regular segments titled 'Constitution Under Attack' and 'Economic Apocalypse,' and occasionally breaks into tears." Beck also "lingers over doomsday situations."
Actually, to be accurate, the Times does directly quote Beck in terms of what he's said on the air recently:
He says that America is "on the road to socialism" and that "God and religion are under attack in the U.S."
"The truth is — that you are the defender of liberty," he said. "It's not the government. It's not an army or anybody else. It's you. This is your country."
That's pretty much it. That's the direct evidence the Times provides for readers to suggest Beck says controversial things on the air. Hmm, if only there were an online resource the Times could have turned to to find a complete catalog of Beck's hateful inanities broadcast in recent week and months. That way the Times could have provided readers with an actual flavor of Beck's program.
BTW, according to the Times, Beck's a "populist" who represents an "alienated class of Americans." That's certainly one (disingenuous) way of putting it.
For context, imagine if (in some parallel universe) a radical Lefty TV host had a cable show at the turn of the decade where he wallowed into all kinds of dark, anti-government conspiracies in the wake of 9/11. Do you think the Times in its profile would directly quote lots of a nutty things that host said, and that the Times would quote a conservative being critical of the nutty host?
We do too.
UPDATE: Blogger Will Bunch also has a few problems with the Times "airball."