Beck revived falsehood that Bill Clinton said, "We've got to slow down our economy" to fight global warming

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

On his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that former President Bill Clinton said, "We've got to slow down our economy" in order to combat global warming, and aired a portion of a speech Clinton made in January. However, as Clinton's full remarks make clear, he did not suggest "slow[ing] down our economy" to fight global warming.

On the May 21 broadcast (subscription required) of his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck falsely asserted that former President Bill Clinton said, "We've got to slow down our economy" in order to combat global warming. Beck cropped a comment from a speech Clinton made in January so that the only audio that aired was: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions, 'cause we've got to save the planet for our grandchildren." After playing the clip, Beck said, "There it is. 'We've got to slow down our economy to save the planet for our grandchildren.' If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know, nothing will." In fact, as Clinton's full quote makes clear, he did not say that we "have to slow down our economy" to fight global warming. Beck's false claim echoed a months-old blog post by ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper.

Earlier in the show, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said, "[T]he people that are advancing this cap-and-trade want to slow our economy down, want to reverse our economy." Beck -- who also hosts a show on CNN Headline News -- said, "[D]o we have the audio of Bill Clinton saying that in a speech? We have -- we'll have to find it. We have audio of Bill Clinton talking to an environmental group. He was talking about green energy and everything else, and he said, 'We all know that the only way to really do this is to halt the economy.' And we were dumbfounded that this man would actually admit to that."

As Media Matters for America noted, Clinton's full quote makes clear that he did not say "[w]e've got to slow down our economy" or "the only way to really do this is to halt the economy." Rather, he said that "rich" countries could take that approach, but it would not work. He said that the "only way" to fight global warming is to prove that doing so "is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy":

CLINTON: And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada -- the rich counties [sic] -- would say, "OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren." We could do that. But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.

And guess what? The only places in the world today in rich countries where you have rising wages and declining inequality are places that have generated more jobs than rich countries because they made a commitment we didn't. They got serious about a clean, efficient, green, independent energy future... If you want that in America, if you want the millions of jobs that will come from it, if you would like to see a new energy trust fund to finance solar energy and wind energy and biomass and responsible bio-fuels and electric hybrid plug-in vehicles that will soon get 100 miles a gallon, if you want every facility in this country to be made maximally energy efficient that will create millions and millions and millions of jobs, vote for her. She'll give it to you. She's got the right energy plan.

Beck's false characterization of Clinton's quote as "We've got to slow down our economy" echoes the original headline of Tapper's January 31 blog post: "Bill: 'We just have to slow down our economy' to fight global warming." By 9:30 a.m. ET on January 31, Internet gossip Matt Drudge provided a link echoing Tapper's false headline. Tapper subsequently updated his post twice, once to add a response from the Republican National Committee to Clinton's supposed assertion that "we must 'slow down the economy' to stop global warming," and once to change the headline to read "What Did Bill Clinton Mean By 'We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy' to Fight Global Warming?" In his second update, Tapper wrote: "The original headline of this post was too definitive, while the larger blog post tried to express that I wasn't sure just what Clinton meant by his statement. So I changed the headline to reflect that. I understand after many, many emails that many folks think I misunderstood what the President was saying." On the January 31 edition of Fox News' America's Pulse, host E.D. Hill aired the same portion of Clinton's comments as Beck did, asserting, as Media Matters noted, that "when it seems Democrats and Republicans have finally united on one thing, and that is that our economy is slowing and we need to kick it into gear, Bill Clinton comes out and says, 'No, we need to slow it.' "

From the May 21 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

KING: I've just stepped out of a conference this morning and listened to a presentation by the Heritage Foundation, and I've been convinced of this for a long time -- they've go the empirical data and it's very convincing -- that the people that are advancing this cap-and-trade want to slow our economy down, want to reverse our economy, and they know that if they shut down energy, they back the economy off. And they're doing it all because they worship the -- they worship Mother Nature.

BECK: Dan, do we -- Dan, do we have the audio of Bill Clinton saying that in a speech? We have -- we'll have to find it. We have audio of Bill Clinton talking to an environmental group. He was talking about green energy and everything else, and he said, "We all know that the only way to really do this is to halt the economy." And we were dumbfounded that this man would actually admit to that. But we have it on tape. We'll try to find it for you.

KING: Occasionally, Bill Clinton told the truth evidently.

BECK: Evidently, he did.

[...]

KING: Well, you laid this thing out at the beginning of the program. I don't know how anyone could contrive more things to do to drive up the cost of energy and slow our economy than the list of things that the Democrats have done to take energy off the marketplace and intimidate the futures market as well.

BECK: Well, for anybody who -- anybody who thinks that it is -- that is not their intent -- Dan, roll the speech from Bill Clinton. Listen to this clip.

CLINTON [audio clip]: We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions, 'cause we've got to save the planet for our grandchildren.

BECK: There it is. "We've got to slow down our economy to save the planet for our grandchildren." If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know, nothing will.

KING: I think Bill Clinton has told the truth on that. That is their agenda. I've been saying it from the floor of Congress this whole 110th Congress, that they have convinced me that they want to increase the cost of energy and they want to do that and it'll slow down the economy. And increasing the cost means people will use less energy. If they use less energy, they'll be more -- there will be fewer carbon emissions and they believe that it keeps the greenhouse gases out, as Bill Clinton said, and it -- and it will save our planet.

Posted In
Economy, Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck Program
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