Beck responds to criticism: "We joke a lot about ... the Hollywood crowd living in Southern California"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY & JEREMY SCHULMAN

On the October 23 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, while responding to criticism of his recent comments about some victims of the California wildfires, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck lashed out at "a few liberal bloggers" who, he said, "claim that I'm serious when I'm joking and try to cause trouble, and then they say I'm joking when I'm serious and try to cause trouble."

As Media Matters for America first documented, Beck said on his October 22 radio show: "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today." Beck added, "There are a few people that hate America. But I don't think the Democrats are those. I think there are those posing as Democrats that are like that."

Addressing his radio audience on October 23, Beck said, "[L]et me tell you, so you know, so you can tell those who want to make me into an evil supervillain. Who do you have to be to think that it's a good thing that anybody's house burns down? Who do you have to be?" Beck further explained, "When you listen to this program -- I hate to break it to, you know, those who don't listen to the show, but if they ever would listen to the show, let me give you a little piece of advice: You have to engage what I like to call 'your brain.' You actually have to think. I might be making a joke. I might be serious." Beck added, "We joke a lot about, you know, the Hollywood crowd living in Southern California. For example, I believe I have advocated Hollywood building giant air conditioners so they can fix the global-warming problem. I'm pretty sure I was joking then." He further stated, "But you wouldn't know that if you hadn't engaged your brain. So let me be serious for a minute. Let me extraordinarily clear. I clearly do not want anyone's house to be burned down."

Beck also defended his comments by saying, "Unfortunately -- and that's weird because that word sometimes is important in a sentence -- unfortunately, some people want to think the worst. But thinking the worst doesn't make it real. Thinking the worst doesn't change an illusion into reality." This appeared to echo a statement made to USA Today's On Deadline blog by Chris Balfe, the producer of Beck's radio program. On Deadline reported: "A spokesman for Beck expressed surprise that bloggers are seizing on this quotation as an example of incivility. 'To most rational people, unfortunately still means unfortunately,' Chris Balfe, the show's producer, tells On Deadline through a spokesman."

From the October 23 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Let me get to your phone calls here in a second. I want to have a -- I want to have a frank and open conversation with you here for a second. Apparently, I have upset a few liberal bloggers. Woe is me. And I need to be extraordinarily clear on one thing. Not with you. And I'll explain in a second.

These people -- they're amazing. They're incredible. They claim that I'm serious when I'm joking and try to cause trouble, and then they say I'm joking when I'm serious and try to cause trouble. There's no way -- if you disagree with any of these people -- there's no way that you can ever win. And here's the interesting thing: Even if you agree with these people, there's no way you can ever win.

I shouldn't have to say this, especially in the United States of America, but for the benefit of the bloggers only, I will. The wildfires in California are a tragedy. I don't want anyone to lose their home. I don't care what their political stripes are. I don't want a soul to lose their home, and anyone who doesn't want to make me into an evil supervillain would understand that. You understand that. You've listened to me for years. In fact, you've got to look at the calendar every year and say, "Oh, jeez, there's a wildfire. Glenn's going to pop a blood vessel again."

If you've listened to me for years, you know wildfires are deeply personal to me. Wildfires make blood shoot out of my eyes. But for the bloggers, it doesn't matter what I really think. It doesn't -- they're not trying to convince you I'm a bad guy. You know. You know who I am. What they're trying to do is convince people who don't watch the TV show, who don't listen to the show. They're trying to convince them that I'm an evil supervillain.

Because those people can be convinced. So let me just -- let me tell you, so you know, so you can tell those who want to make me into an evil supervillain. Who do you have to be to think that it's a good thing that anybody's house burns down? Who do you have to be?

Let me put -- let me put this into perspective. I'm a dad of four kids. Put yourself into the situation that you go to sleep at night or, you know, it's nighttime, but you ain't going to sleep because you're the dad, you're the mom, and you see over the hill behind your house, you see a strange, red glow. You know what that glow is caused from. You've spent all day telling your kids, "Don't worry, kids. Don't worry. It's not coming here." You imagine how freaked out your kids are. Then imagine going to bed and your wife -- what she would say to me and I would be saying it to her, "Honey, just get some sleep. Just get some sleep. It's all going to be OK."

But you --neither of you sleep because you know the red, that glow, is starting to creep back over the hill. So at some point, you have to have the conversation, "Honey, what do we grab? What do we take? Do we take that book? Do we take that memento? Do we take those pictures? How about the computer? What can we shove into the trunk of our car? Our whole life might be gone."

Put yourself into the shoes of the firefighters, who do this every single year. These guys are heroes. So, please, who do you have to be? What kind of monster wants that to happen? When you listen to this program -- I hate to break it to, you know, those who don't listen to the show, but if they ever would listen to the show, let me give you a little piece of advice: You have to engage what I like to call "your brain." You actually have to think. I might be making a joke. I might be serious. We joke a lot about, you know, the Hollywood crowd living in Southern California. For example, I believe I have advocated Hollywood building giant air conditioners so they can fix the global-warming problem. I'm pretty sure I was joking then.

But you wouldn't know that if you hadn't engaged your brain. So let me be serious for a minute. Let me extraordinarily clear. I clearly do not want anyone's house to be burned down. Now, some people may want to interpret what they think I mean, but that's what I mean. Some people want me to have said that I'm seriously happy about people losing their homes or that I somehow or another believe that they deserve to have their house burn down. What kind of KKK-Nazi combination do you have to [inaudible] to actually believe that?

Unfortunately -- and that's weird because that word sometimes is important in a sentence -- unfortunately, some people want to think the worst. But thinking the worst doesn't make it real. Thinking the worst doesn't change an illusion into reality.

I just can't believe that I live in a country where I have to explain that.

Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks, CNN, CNN Headline News
Person
Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck Program
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