Beck's Misinformer of the Year defense rests on falsehoods


Glenn Beck devoted the full hour of his Fox News show to responding to "some liberal blogs" that had named him Misinformer of the Year, asserting that the blogs "didn't back it up with any facts." Beck's 60-minute rebuttal ignored numerous facts set forth by Media Matters for America undermining a litany of Beck's claims throughout 2009; moreover, his defense itself rested on misrepresentations and false claims.

Beck claims "some blogs" failed to "back it up with any facts" in naming him Misinformer of the Year

From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: We've been preparing this program -- this series of programs, the next five programs -- for about a month and a half, and while I was on vacation last week, some liberal blogs named me the Misinformer of the Year. But what I loved about it was, they didn't back it up with any facts. I saw another article in The Washington Post that did the same thing. [Glenn Beck, 1/4/10]

Media Matters provided numerous factual rebuttals to Beck's claims throughout 2009

Beck falsely claimed "[o]nly 3 percent" of stimulus plan would be "spent in the next 12 months." During the January 27 broadcast of his Fox News program, Beck falsely claimed that "[o]nly 3 percent" of the Democratic economic stimulus plan would be "spent in the next 12 months." Beck's figures were based on a partial Congressional Budget Office cost estimate that excluded faster-moving provisions in the bill. According to the CBO's full cost estimate of the bill, 11.2 percent of the $816 billion bill would be spent in the first seven and a half months after the bill was enacted, and, when including the bill's tax cut provisions, $169 billion -- or 20.7 percent of the bill's total cost -- were estimated to take effect in the first seven and a half months, or before the end of the last fiscal year.

Beck aired false claim that a union needs only 30 percent support from employees to be "established." On February 12, Beck aired an on-screen graphic with the headline, "THEN ... WAGNER ACT," which falsely asserted that if 30 percent of employees want a union, "it gets established." In fact, the Wagner Act, which was passed in the 1930s, required that for union representation to be established, a majority of employees in a bargaining unit within a company had to "designate or select" a union to represent them.

Beck falsely claimed average UAW worker makes $154 per hour. On February 18, Beck falsely claimed that "the average UAW [United Auto Workers] worker" earns "[a] hundred and fifty-four dollars an hour if you look at -- you know, if you add in all of the benefits." In fact, a Barclays Capital analysis reportedly found that U.S. automakers "pay an average of $55 an hour in wages and benefits to hourly workers."

Beck falsely asserted that U.S. does not fingerprint foreign visitors or collect rapists' DNA. On March 16, Beck asserted that "[w]e can't fingerprint anybody who's coming into this country because that would be offensive" and that "[w]e can't take DNA samples from killers or rapists, but you can have your fingerprint taken if you want to sell your house." In fact, the Department of Homeland Security does take fingerprints from "aliens seeking admission to the United States" at U.S. entry points, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "All 50 states require that convicted sex offenders provide a DNA sample."

Beck falsely claimed Iowa marriage ruling "is actually about going into churches." On April 13, Beck falsely asserted that the Iowa Supreme Court's decision striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage "is actually about going into churches ... and saying you can't teach anything else." In fact, the ruling does not affect religious institutions' definitions of marriage.

Beck echoed falsehood that ACORN received stimulus funds. On May 6, Beck echoed a false Republican talking point by stating, "By including ACORN, or groups like them, in the stimulus package, we have guaranteed them billions of dollars to buy more votes for the party that helps them the most." In fact, the stimulus bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.

Beck falsely claimed $1.4 million in stimulus spent on doors, which actually cost $246,100 to repair. On July 20, Beck falsely claimed that the government spent $1.4 million of economic stimulus funds "to repair a door" at Dyess Air Force Base. In fact, the doors repaired were hangar doors and did not cost that much money. actually states that the government awarded AFCO Technologies nearly $1.2 million to replace gas mains on the base, and $246,100 to repair the hangar doors in Building 5112.

Beck falsely claimed Obama said he doesn't want health reform protesters to "do a lot of talking." On August 10, Beck falsely claimed that President Obama was "reacti[ng] to the health care protests" when he said, "I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking." In fact, Obama was not talking about public protests or even health care reform; he was discussing "folks on the other side of the aisle pointing at the federal budget and somehow trying to put that at our feet."

Beck reported fake murder story from ACORN video as fact. On September 15, after Andrew Breitbart posted a video of an ACORN employee in San Bernardino, California, claiming that she had killed her ex-husband, Beck joined Fox News colleagues Karl Rove, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity in promoting it without fact-checking it or indicating that they had contacted ACORN for a response to the claim. In fact, ACORN stated that the employee made up the story because she recognized that the actors in the video "were clearly playing with" her so she "matched their false scenario with her own false scenarios," and, indeed, the San Bernardino Police Department has said her claim is false.

Beck, falsely claimed IPCC's Latif has "pulled the rug out" from under climate change consensus. On September 22, Beck joined Hannity in seizing on a World Climate Conference presentation on short-term natural climate variability by Mojib Latif, a prominent climate modeler, to suggest that, in Beck's words, Latif has "backed out now and said, 'We were wrong,' " about global warming because, according to Hannity, Latif stated that global temperatures are actually "cooling." In fact, Latif asserted that contrary to common "media" misperceptions of global warming as a "monotonic process" in which "each year is warmer than the preceding year," there are significant natural climate variations within the decadal timescale that do not change the "long-term warming trend."

Beck falsely claimed Anita Dunn "worships" "her hero" Mao Zedong. Throughout most of his October 15 Fox News program, Beck falsely claimed that White House communications director Anita Dunn "worships" and "idolizes" "her hero" Mao Zedong. In fact, in the video that Beck aired as evidence to support his claims, Dunn offered no endorsement of Mao's ideology or atrocities -- rather, she commented that Mao and Mother Teresa were two of her "favorite political philosophers," and based on short quotes from them, she offered the advice that "you don't have to follow other people's choices and paths" or "let external definition define how good you are internally."

Beck falsely accused Reid of lying about support for public option. Following reports that Senate leaders planned to include a public option in health care legislation, on the October 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Beck falsely suggested that only "35 percent of the population" supported a public option and accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of lying when he said, in co-host Gretchen Carlson's words, that "the public wants this." In fact, polling consistently showed broad support for the public option, and the Fox News poll Beck presumably was referencing did not ask specifically about a public option.

Beck falsely claimed that under the Senate health care bill, "You don't get a single benefit until 2014." On November 19, Beck falsely claimed that under the Senate health care bill, "All of the benefits of this bill don't kick in until when? You don't get a single benefit until 2014." According to a document released by Senate Democrats summarizing the "Immediate Benefits" of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill included numerous benefits that would "be available in the first year after enactment" of the bill. Indeed, Washington Post writer Ezra Klein published a list of benefits that the Senate bill would provide "before 2014."

Reviving "born alive" falsehood, Beck claimed Obama suggested it's OK to "put a spike in the baby's head." On November 25, Beck falsely claimed that Obama "suggested that [it] was OK" to "go into those pregnant women and pull the babies out of them and put a spike in the baby's head," echoing the oft-repeated right-wing falsehood that Obama did not support protecting babies who survived botched abortions. In fact, while serving in the state Senate, Obama opposed legislation to amend the Illinois Abortion Law because the amendment threatened abortion rights and was unnecessary since existing law already required doctors to provide medical care for babies who survived abortions.

Beck falsely claimed that no jobs are being "saved or created" by recovery legislation. On December 2, Beck falsely claimed that "jobs are not being saved or created" by the economic recovery legislation and that the Obama administration is "creating the make-believe 'saved or created' category" for jobs. In fact, the CBO had recently estimated that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, which was heavily promoted by Obama, created 1.6 million jobs, and the Bush administration repeatedly stated that its economic initiatives had "saved or created" jobs.

Beck falsely claimed Robert Creamer "stole" $2 million from banks. On December 8, Beck falsely claimed that progressive activist Robert Creamer "stole" $2 million from banks while serving as executive director of the Illinois Public Action Fund. In fact, Creamer was never accused of stealing any money, and the judge in the case reportedly gave Creamer a lighter sentence because no one suffered any "out of pocket losses."

Beck led charge advancing "Lie of the Year" contender that Holdren supported forced abortions and sterilizations. Throughout 2009, Beck repeatedly advanced the false claim that White House science and technology adviser John Holdren -- whom Beck called "our science czar" -- supported forced abortions and putting sterilants in drinking water. declared his claim "pants on fire" false and nominated it for "Lie of the Year," stating that Holdren and his co-authors "make clear that they did not support coercive means of population control." Beck's claim was PolitiFact's runner-up for Lie of the Year.

Beck's defense rests on misrepresentations and falsehoods

Beck claim: Death panels "discovered by The New York Times." On his January 4 show, Beck claimed, "Last summer during the health care debate, we told you that the administration's math didn't add up. It was a very reasonable explanation on the program. I appealed to your reason. I said it would be impossible to add 30 million people to health care onto the rolls and at the same time add no additional doctors or nurses. And then not have rationing. You can't do that. Because some bureaucracy would have to decide whether you would receive, or they would receive rationed health care, the terms 'death panels' was applied. Well, here is the fact." After showing archive footage of himself discussing rationing and death panels, he stated:

BECK: But instead of telling you the Lie of the Year, how about I just tell you the truth, as discovered by The New York Times in a front-page article about our mushrooming unsustainable debt? Here is the truth from the Times. Quote: "The competing demands could deepen political battles over the size and the role of government. The tradeoffs between taxes and spending. The choices between helping older generations versus younger ones, and the bottom line questions about who should ultimately shoulder the burden."

That was The New York Times. Hmmm. That also sounds reasonable, doesn't it, when there's a shortage of money? So The New York Times says it, but SEIU named me the fearmonger of the year. That's weird. I wonder if The New York Times will share that award with me.

Fact: Times article cited by Beck makes no mention of health care reform or "death panels." The November 22 New York Times article cited by Beck, headlined, "Wave of debt payments facing U.S. government," did not address health care reform and made no mention of death panels or health care rationing. From The New York Times:

Americans now have to climb out of two deep holes: as debt-loaded consumers, whose personal wealth sank along with housing and stock prices; and as taxpayers, whose government debt has almost doubled in the last two years alone, just as costs tied to benefits for retiring baby boomers are set to explode.

The competing demands could deepen political battles over the size and role of the government, the trade-offs between taxes and spending, the choices between helping older generations versus younger ones, and the bottom-line questions about who should ultimately shoulder the burden.

"The government is on teaser rates," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates lower deficits. "We're taking out a huge mortgage right now, but we won't feel the pain until later."

Beck: "I didn't want [Van Jones] to be fired." During his discussion of Van Jones, Beck stated, "I didn't want the man to be fired. I wanted a debate on the issue of a communist being an adviser to the president of the United States."

Fact: Beck said, "Removing Van Jones is not enough," and called on listeners to ask, "Why is this man in [Obama's] administration?" Discussing Van Jones on the September 3 edition of his radio show, Beck asked, "Is it time yet that you demand an answer from the president of the United States, 'Why is this man in your administration?' " Beck went on to claim, "And it's not about Van Jones. Removing Van Jones is not enough."

A section on Beck claiming that Van Jones was "the only person, by the way, we have ever accused of being a communist" has been removed from this item.

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Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck Program, Glenn Beck show
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