On March 13, 2009, Glenn Beck rolled out his "9-12 Project" in a special featuring Chuck Norris, various "survivors," and numerous moments of Beck openly crying about how much he loved his country. In describing the project, Beck stated, "We weren't told how to behave that day after 9-11, we just knew. It was right; it was the opposite of what we feel today." And with tears flowing down his cheeks, Beck asked, "Are you ready to be the person you were that day after 9-11, on 9-12?"
Of course, most observers -- The New York Times not among them -- recognized Beck's 9-12 Project as a shameless shtick exploiting a terrible tragedy. Indeed, Stephen Colbert offered up the best evidence of Beck's phoniness, airing a tape of him back in 2005 savaging the families of victims of 9-11:
BECK: You know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families. ... I don't hate all of them. I hate about, probably about 10 of them. But when I see, you know, 9-11 victim family, on television, or whatever, I'm just like, "Oh, shut up." I'm so sick of them, because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them.
Colbert shrewdly noted that Beck's "9-12 Project is not for families directly affected by 9-11. Just people building their careers on it."
Beck concluded his 3-13 9-12 special by stating, "On Saturday, 9/12 -- Saturday, September 12, I will share with you what I've been working on to put the principles and the values to work in my own life. And you show me what you have done. We'll meet back here in six months, all right?"
Well, it's six months later. Time to find out what all the fuss is about.
Turns out it's nothing more than another tea party protest in Washington, D.C.
Savetherich.com, a site devoted to "The Truth About the Fox News Tea Parties," has documented the origins of the September 12 march and traced it back to FreedomWorks -- on March 13, the same day as Beck's 9-12 special.
Brendan Steinhauser, the director of federal and state campaigns for FreedomWorks, posted: "If you are interested in building momentum for a massive march on Washington, let us know!" A month later, Steinhauser posted: "We have the permit for the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, 9-12-2009! Please spread the word, and we will post updates on our blog and in this space."
912dc.org lists FreedomWorks as its biggest sponsor, with American Taxpayers Union, FreeRepublic, and the American Conservative Union also listed as sponsors.
Meanwhile, Beck's the912project.com has been promoting the September 12 march on Washington but insists in several places that the project is not actually organizing the protests, even though they are working with organizers:
We are not the organizers of this march, but we are working with the great team to get you there! Sign up! See you there!
So they're not organizing, but they're working with organizers?
Beck's site links to an event management website that has a page with a logo proclaiming it to be a "Taxpayer March on DC" and containing event details. In addition, Beck's site provides contact information for transportation connections and encourages folks to attend: "You can watch TV any day. Washington needs to hear your voice."
On August 12, Beck described the march on Washington as a "9-12 Project": "There are 9-12 Projects and rallies happening all over. The biggest one seems to be in Washington, D.C., on September 12."
On August 28, Beck described the 9-12 march on Washington as something "worth standing up for" and told viewers, "I hope to see you in Washington. I will make sure you're seen all over the country."
And on September 1, an emotional Beck urged listeners to attend the march in D.C. because they "may be the only thing that stands between freedom and slavery."
Indeed, Beck and his project may claim they're not the organizers of the march, but they're sure doing a lot of organizing.
In addition, for weeks, Fox News has been promoting the Tea Party Express, a two-week national bus tour ending up in D.C. tomorrow. Fox News has been promoting the tour -- with live updates from Griff "Nerd Pencils" Jenkins -- despite the fact that the tour was organized by Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative PAC organized to oppose the Obama administration.
Tomorrow's agenda calls for a march down Pennsylvania Avenue ending with a protest on the west lawn of the Capitol at 1 p.m., which is exactly when Glenn Beck and Fox News will begin live broadcasting from the protest.
Haven't we already seen this not once, but twice, since Obama's election?
The Tax Day Tea Parties were heavily promoted by Fox News, with four of its anchors appearing at protests around the country. In the most disturbing of them, Beck stood in front of the Alamo alongside a guitar-wielding Ted Nugent and interviewed the guy who shot and killed two men he believed to be trespassers even after a 911 dispatcher asked him not to go outside. The crowd roared as he described shooting the undocumented immigrants.
The Fourth of July tea parties were a total flop, in part because of lukewarm promotion from Fox News, but most likely because nobody wanted to give up barbecuing, drinking beer, and shooting off fireworks to go protest.
But at least there was a reasonable rationale for holding tax protests on April 15 and, to a lesser extent, July 4.
What is the rationale for holding tax protests on September 12? So that we can remember how we all united against paying taxes the day after our nation's worst tragedy?
No, the protests are nothing more than the shameless and shameful exploitation of something that should be sacred to all. All thanks to Glenn Beck, the most shameless media huckster since Morton Downey Jr.
And Fox News is once again actively engaging in political advocacy against the Democratic Congress and the Obama administration. It has already proven that it is willing to take marching orders from Beck.
But Fox News won't be alone. On Friday's edition of American Morning, correspondent Ali Velshi said CNN plans to cover the rally.
So why is CNN covering Glenn Beck's baby?
Back on April 15, CNN's Susan Roesgen actually reported that the Tax Day protests were "highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox."
What has changed?
Why would CNN cover the 9-12 protests led by Mr. 9-12 himself?
Why is CNN giving Glenn Beck an even bigger mike?
A suggestion to CNN: On Saturday (and Sunday) another group will descend on the Mall for a positive cause. This weekend is the 24th annual Black Family Reunion Celebration, a "three-day cultural event celebrating the enduring strengths and traditional values of the African American family." How about reporting on African-Americans' views on taxes, health care, unemployment, etc? At least then you won't be merely echoing Fox News' coverage. After all, the tea party protesters have been given more than enough airtime on Fox News alone.
Or at the very least, send Roesgen to cover Beck's protest and call them what they are: a ratings gimmick.