Glenn Beck routinely admonishes his audience to reject violence, but he himself has frequently spewed violent rhetoric. Recent incidents of violence that have been linked to rhetoric like Beck's call into question which message his audience is getting.
Rhetoric like Beck's has been linked to incidents of violence
Pittsburgh shooter thought government would ban guns. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a man who murdered three police officers responding to a domestic disturbance call thought that the government was going to ban guns and was a fan of the far-right conspiracy-theory website run by Alex Jones. Jones, who is described even by some conservatives as a "conspiracy freak" who appeals to "the tin foil hat crowd" and the neo-Nazis at Stormfront, had been mainstreamed by Fox News. Beck had echoed rhetoric like Jones', warning about an impending one world government, and continued -- even after the shooting -- to suggest that Obama will "take away your gun."
California shooter was reportedly going to attack one of Beck's favorite targets. A California man who opened fire on highway patrol officers who pulled him over reportedly told investigators that "his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU." Beck has acknowledged that he played a role in "turn[ing] the light of day on" the Tides Foundation, a little-known organization he has frequently attacked on his Fox News show, suggestingthe gorup was "using failing capitalism to destroy it" and creating a "mass organization to seize power."
Beck implores his audience to "reject violence"
Beck warns his audience not to "pick up a gun" or "cause any violence." Beck addressed his audience on his Fox News show, saying: "Let me tell you something right now. Let me make this very clear for anybody on the left, the right or the middle: If you pick up a gun, if you cause any violence, if you are engaged in a riot, let me promise you now, the republic will be over. Over. Because they need you to do that." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 7/26/10]
Beck: "Reject violence every step of the way." On his radio program, Beck told his listeners that they were "winning" against "a well-coordinated attack" and that their opponents "need you to become violent." He continued:
BECK: The minute you become violent, which you're not going to do -- hear me clearly, for the record. Violence will destroy the republic. The person that picks up a gun, a bomb, anything, a knife, a rope, they will destroy the republic. Reject violence every step of the way. You make the first call to the police if you see anyone who you think is plotting, planning, thinking crazy thoughts. You turn them in to police immediately. You will destroy the republic if you do not. Now could I be any clearer than that? Write it down in your diary because it will be erased in history. [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 7/26/10]
Beck: "We need to really view ourselves as non-armed, non-violent cells." On the same broadcast of his radio show, Beck stated: "If they take me down, you have to be standing. And if they take you down, somebody else has to be standing. So we need to really view ourselves as non-armed, non-violent cells." [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/26/10]
Beck: "The only weapon in our arsenal that we need is God." Beck has suggested that the government is "poking and prodding" the "crazy tea baggers" in order to incite them to violence. "They need you to be violent," he said. "They are begging for it. You are being set up. Do not give them what they want." Then, referring to a report that some congressmen had received death threats after voting in favor of health care reform, Beck implored his viewers, "Do not become them. ... It's exactly what they want." He concluded by saying that "the only weapon in our arsenal that we need is God." [Glenn Beck, 3/24/10]
Beck: "You must always be a people of peace." The same day on the radio, Beck cautioned his listeners: "Let me warn you now, in no uncertain terms. You must always be a people of peace. Always. Unless your life is being threatened. In no uncertain terms, you must always be a people of peace." [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/24/10]
Beck: "How many times do I have to say 'peaceful'?" In the middle of comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr., Beck said to his radio listeners: "These are the times when you stand up -- when you can stand up peacefully, because if you don't stand up as you are losing those rights, as the government is growing in power, then, unfortunately, it becomes too late to stand up peacefully. How many times do I have to say 'peaceful'?" [The Glenn Beck Program, 11/25/09]
Beck: Go to town hall meetings armed with something -- "not with guns but with facts." While suggesting that the Obama administration is trying to destroy him, Beck told his listeners that "there is evil at play" and warned that "unless you come to these town hall meetings armed with something, you're too easily dismissed." He later clarified: "By arming you every day, by arming you not with guns but with facts, and you walking into these places armed with facts, the biggest stick you can carry." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/24/09]
Beck: "It is not time to pick up guns" or "blow anything up." Beck warned his radio audience that "the American way of life is being systematically dismantled and destroyed," "the republic is in danger," and "we are entering the most dangerous time in American history." He then said, "My fellow American, it is not time to pick up guns. It is not time. It is not time to blow anything up." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/5/09]
Beck: "If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again." Beck issued a "warning" to his television audience: "If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the republic." He stated that "just one lunatic, like Timothy McVeigh, could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for" and instructed his audience that it was their "patriotic duty" to stop anyone they heard thinking about becoming violent. [Glenn Beck, 8/3/09]
Violent rhetoric is a staple on Beck's shows
Beck pours gasoline on "average American," asks, "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" On his television show, Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an actor portraying the "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic."[Fox News' Glenn Beck, 4/9/09]
Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires, suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." On his March 30, 2009, Fox News show, Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and Democrats as vampires and said: "The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy." Beck then suggested "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." Beck returned to that imagery on his January 19 radio show, warning listeners that progressives are "vampires" who now have a "taste of blood" and are "gonna start getting more and more violent."
Beck talks about "put[ting] poison" in Pelosi's wine. In 2009, Beck's Fox News show featured a segment in which Beck said the following to a woman wearing a mask of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
BECK: So, Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Are you blind? Do those eyes not work? There you -- I want you to drink it now. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it.
I really just wanted to thank you for having me over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought I had to be a major Democratic donor or a longtime friend of yours, which I'm not.
By the way, I put poison in your -- no, I -- I look forward to all the policy discussions that we're supposed to have -- you know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy. [Glenn Beck 8/6/09]
Beck: "To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." Telling his listeners that they "are going to learn so much on Friday," Beck compared himself to "Israeli Nazi hunters" and commented: "I'm going to find these big progressives and, to the day I die, I'm going to be a progressive hunter." He added:
BECK: I'm going to find these people that have done this to our -- you know, to our country, and expose them. I don't care where -- I don't care if they're in nursing homes. I'm going to expose what they have done and make sure that the people understand, because our Constitution, our republic -- if it survives -- it will only survive because the people are waking up and through the grace of God, because we are that close to losing our republic. [The Glenn Beck Program, 1/20/10]
Beck: "Grab a torch." Asserting that politicians are addicted to spending, Beck stated: "When do we ever run those who are bankrupting our country and literally stealing our children's future out of town? Grab a torch." [Glenn Beck, 1/6/10]
Beck suggests Obama is "trying to destroy the country" and is pushing America toward civil war. While discussing the ongoing controversy over Arizona's immigration law, Beck told his listeners that "we are being pushed" toward civil war and that Obama is "trying to destroy the country." [The Glenn Beck Program, 5/19/10]
Beck's advice to Liberty grads: "Shoot to kill." During his May 15 commencement speech at Liberty University, Beck told graduates that they "have a responsibility" to speak out, or "blood ... will be on our hands." His advice for graduates (as well as his daughter) included "shoot to kill."
Quoting Jefferson, Beck warns about "rivers of blood." On his Fox News show, Beck quoted a letter by Thomas Jefferson warning " 'if they lose freedom' -- he's speaking of us, future generations -- 'if they lose freedom, there will be rivers of blood.' " Beck continued in his own words, "Boy, I hope that's not true, but I can tell you there will be rivers of blood if we don't have values and principles." [Glenn Beck, 5/14/10]
Beck: "I fear a Reichstag moment, a -- God forbid -- another 9-11, something that will turn this machine on." During an interview with Newsmax.com in which he discussed opposition to Obama's Federal Communications Commission policies, Beck said: "I fear an event. I fear a Reichstag moment, a -- God forbid -- another 9-11, something that will turn this machine on, and power will be seized and voices will be silenced. God help us all.'' [Newsmax.com, 10/7/09]
Beck speaks for one-third of the nation: "[Y]ou will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun" and "before I acquiesce and be silent." Beck has warned "ACORN, GE, Obama, SEIU" that "you are awakening a sleeping giant, and I have nothing to do with it" and that "America is waking up. You know the American Revolution took place with 12 percent of the population? Twelve. Are you telling me there is not 30 percent of this population that you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I let somebody into my house to tell me how to raise my children; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent." Beck further stated:
BECK: They cannot move on these things, because they are building a machine that will crush the entrepreneurial sprit and the freedom that our Founding Fathers designed. This machine, whatever it is they are building, will crush it. Do not let them build another piece.
So while I turn away, I want to make sure that I have at least 10 million eyes watching -- watching every single move they are making.
We know why they're doing what they're doing. You need to do what you need to do, and as long as that is peaceful, we will save our country. [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/30/09]
Beck: "This game is for keeps"; "[Y]ou can shoot me in the head ... but there will be 10 others that line up." Asking his audience to "pray for protection," Beck claimed that "the most powerful people on the planet on the left" were "not going to go away easy" because "[t]his game is for keeps. This is who controls the United States of America and its destiny." He went on to state, "Just pray for protection, please." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/8/09]
Later in the same program, Beck said:
BECK: You can try to put the lid on this group of people, but you will never silence us. You will never -- you can shoot me in the head, you can shoot the next guy in the head, but there will be 10 others that line up. And it may not happen today, it may not happen next week, but freedom will be restored in this land. Period. And no matter what you want to call it, it is a totalitarian state that you're headed towards. [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/8/09]
Beck: "There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America." Beck has claimed that "there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly," adding: "At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time." He also said, "And they're gonna say, 'we did it democratically,' and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/31/09]
Beck suggests that progressives support "armed insurrection." After President Obama signed health care reform legislation into law, Beck suggested that progressives support "armed insurrection" and asked, "Why would the president take up immigration right away, after he's just punched you in the face with health care?" [Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]
Beck suggests Pelosi and Obama support "pick[ing] up a gun" to advance "revolution." During the same edition of his Fox News show, Beck said that "violence is the wrong way to go," but asked his viewers: "You'd pick up a gun? Have you ever thought of that?" He then pointed to several pictures, including images of Obama and Pelosi, and stated: "These people have. Because possibly, maybe the question should be asked, maybe they're tired of evolution, and maybe they are waiting for revolution." Beck also said: "Haven't we just been spanked? Hasn't most of the country -- doesn't most of the country feel like they've been spanked over health care? You bet. I do, you do. A lot of people do." [Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]
Beck suggests Obama administration may kill him. Also on that same edition of his Fox News program, Beck said: "For those of you in the administration, who are coming after me ... remember, you've broken three [of the 10 Commandments], let's not make it four; thou shalt not kill." [Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]
Ranting that gov't under Nixon "wasn't as corrupt as it is now," Beck suggests Obama admin might kill "10 percent" of population. On his Fox News show, Beck warned that "anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists" have to "eliminate 10 percent of the U.S. population" in order to "gain control." They couldn't achieve such a goal when Richard Nixon was president, Beck stated, but the government under Nixon "wasn't as corrupt as it is now." [Glenn Beck, 6/10/10]
Beck: "The army ... of the extreme left is gathering" and they are saying "cops are bad, kill the cops." On his radio show, Beck discussed riots in Oakland, stating: "The army, if you will, of the extreme left is gathering, and they are coming to the conclusion of cops are bad, kill the cops, they're the oppressors. It's all the 1960s, you know, pig stuff." [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/12/10]