On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck advanced the dubious rumor that the White House "threatened" to close Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base "if Senator Ben Nelson [D-NE] doesn't fall in line with health care," despite repeatedly acknowledging that he did not know whether the rumor -- which he said "borders on treason" -- was true. Beck went on to cite what he said was Obama's delay in responding to a request for additional troops in Afghanistan, Obama's comments reacting to the deadly shooting at Fort Hood, courts-martial of two Navy SEALs, and the actions of several individuals with no connection to the White House as constituting what he called a "preponderance of the evidence of Chicago thuggery" from the White House, strongly suggesting that the rumor was more credible than the administration's denial.
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Beck repeatedly acknowledges he doesn't know if rumor -- which he likens to treason -- is true
Beck: "[I]f it is true, we are in a different world." Introducing his report on the rumor, which both Nelson and White House officials have denied, Beck asserted, "This story that I'm about to give to you here in the next few minutes is probably the most outrageous story. In fact, it is a story that I have paused three times and gone back to my producers today and said, 'Are you sure we have enough on this one? Are you sure we have enough?' Because this is a story I do not want to believe. But if it is true, we are in a different world."
Beck: "[I]t is abhorrent if it is true, but it sure fits the pattern." Beck further claimed, "The Obama administration is possibly -- and I can't bring myself to say these words, because it is abhorrent if it is true, but it sure fits the pattern -- they are playing politics with the national security of the United States. If it is true, that's exactly what they are doing for health care. 'Does it seem implausible?' was the question that was asked to me several times by producers. Does it seem possible? Does it seem implausible to you? A year ago I would have said yes."
Beck: "The fact that they threatened it" is "on the lunatic fringe, if this indeed happened." During a subsequent interview, Goldfarb commented that "it's actually not a very credible threat" to shut down the base, since the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process won't start again for several years, Beck stated: "It doesn't matter if it's credible or not that they could do it, the fact that they threatened it -- it is our national security. There comes a point, anyone in the White House, there comes a point where you have crossed far too many lines. This is -- this is on the lunatic fringe if this indeed happened."
Beck's specious preponderance of the evidence that Obama engages in "Chicago thuggery"
Beck cites "preponderance of the evidence" to suggest veracity of rumor, which he says "borders on treason." Beck stated: "Using the military and our Strategic Command as a pawn, threatening to weaken our national security defenses to fulfill your utopian social justice agenda, to me that borders on treason. No one, no one, no one wants to believe that the president of the United States or any of his advisers would stoop to these kinds of tactics. But what are we supposed to believe here? Senator Ben Nelson, who even if this story is true would obviously deny it to protect his party and the president? Or do we take the story at face value, based on the preponderance of the evidence of Chicago thuggery we've already seen."
Beck's evidence includes "shout out," process of responding to Gen. McChrystal's request for additional troops, and courts-martial of Navy SEALs. While laying out his case that the Obama administration and Nelson could not be trusted, Beck claimed that Obama's opening statements while addressing the Fort Hood shootings, in which he acknowledged those in attendance; the pending courts-martial of two Navy SEALs for assault; and the amount of time Obama spent reviewing Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request for additional troops in Afghanistan were part of a "preponderance of the evidence" that must be considered when deciding whether to believe the Obama administration's and Nelson's denials.
Beck cites actions by individuals not part of White House in discussion of "politics of absolute destruction from this White House." During his attack, Beck cited a blog post by Lee Siegel at the Daily Beast criticizing Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), a Keith Olbermann segment on MSNBC, and a Huffington Post blog entry about Lieberman's wife. He then claimed, "We have seen plenty of extortion and the politics of absolute destruction from this White House," and went on to discuss a Senate amendment that would limit Louisiana's scheduled reduction in Medicaid reimbursements and Robert Creamer's recent criticism of Beck.
Beck claims three sources exist, but points only to anonymous source of Goldfarb, who went on to retract a major element of his earlier report. Introducing his attack, Beck claimed that "this morning, there was one source. Today, I am told that there are three separate sources." After noting that Nelson and White House officials deny the rumor, Beck claimed, "But Goldfarb and The Weekly Standard are standing by their source, and now two others." At no point did Beck identify any additional sources beyond Goldfarb's single source, whom Goldfarb identified as "a Senate aide." During a later interview, Goldfarb did not reference any additional sources; moreover, he changed his story, stating that it was not White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel who his purported source claimed contacted Nelson, which Goldfarb had reported earlier.
Both Nelson's office, White House have denied rumor
Nelson spokesman: "The rumor is not true." The Omaha World-Herald reported on December 15 that Nelson spokesman Jake Thompson said, "The rumor is not true," and, "This misinformation is coming from inside-the-Beltway partisans who only want to derail health care reform."
Pfeiffer: "[T]hese rumors are completely baseless and false." From a December 15 blog post by White House Communications director Dan Pfeiffer:
Proving that they will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to undermine health reform, some blogs opposing reform are now trafficking an absurd rumor that Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base is being threatened over Senator Ben Nelson's vote on the Senate reform bill.
To be perfectly clear: these rumors are completely baseless and false.
Thanks for your time.