Last night, during a 10-minute tirade smearing George Soros with distortions and misrepresentations, Glenn Beck failed to grasp the simple concept of an Australian newspaper converting U.S. dollars to the local currency. The data Beck completely mangled were then used to accuse Soros of wanting to implement "failed socialist or Marxist policies."
Claiming that Soros "summed it up like this," Beck quoted Soros saying:
The trouble is that the winners do not compensate the losers either within states or between states. The welfare state as we know it has become unsustainable, and international income redistribution is practically nonexistent. Total international assistance amounted to $56.5 billion from the U.S. and 74.4 billion worldwide in 2002. Now, I just want you to know, this amount represents only 0.18 percent of global GDP. As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow.
Beck concluded, "[T]he selfishness of this country only represented 75 percent of all international giving. Man, how do you live with yourself, America? Thank you for pointing out, Mr. Spooky Dude, how pathetic we really are. This is the argument, though, for scrapping the free market in favor failed socialist or Marxist policies. Just take it from us instead of having us willingly, from our heart, give 75 percent of all of the world's giving. Oh, that's brilliant. Spooky Dude, maybe you can control that money."
Except Soros didn't write that.
The quote appears in an edited extract from Soros' 2004 book that ran in an Australian paper, The Sydney Morning Herald, in February 2004. Sort of:
The trouble is that the winners do not compensate the losers either within states or between states. The welfare state as we know it has become unsustainable and international income redistribution is practically nonexistent. Total international assistance amounted to $US56.5 billion ($74.4 billion) in 2002. This amount represents only 0.18 per cent of global GDP. As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow.
See those parentheses? It turns out that in the first quarter of 2004 -- right around the time that the Herald ran this extract -- one Australian dollar was trading for about 75.9 cents U.S., or roughly $74.4 billion Australian for $56.5 billion U.S.
That's right, mate. Beck and his well-funded research team just failed Journalism 101. A lesson in how to report currency conversions, courtesy of the AP Stylebook:
Net profit for the three months to Sept. 30 was 400 million pounds ($595 million), compared with 339 million pounds a year earlier, when profits were hit by a 232 million-pound one-time restructuring charge. Restructuring charges this year were 72 percent lower at just 65 million pounds.
Write it on your chalkboard 200 times, Glenn.