As the nation mourns the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, conservative media figures have attempted to appropriate his legacy and attribute to the beloved former president their conservative ideas and positions. This effort runs counter to Kennedy's stated positions, speeches, and other historical facts surrounding his presidency.
From the September 11 edition of The Blaze's The Glenn Beck Program:
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Glenn Beck launched a sordid smear campaign against Teresa Heinz Kerry, the hospitalized wife of Secretary of State John Kerry, accusing her and the State Department of orchestrating her medical scare to divert public attention away from reports about the whereabouts of her husband during Egypt's most recent transition of power. In a pair of cheap shots on his radio program and web show, Beck speculated that Heinz Kerry is lying and drew an institutional connection between what he baselessly suggests is Heinz Kerry's fake injury and the 2012 concussion suffered by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which Beck referred to at the time as a "scam."
On July 3, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was deposed by the country's military leaders amidst popular protests. That same day, CBS reported that one of its producers had spotted Secretary Kerry aboard a yacht in the Nantucket Boat Basin. The State Department denied the allegations, and noted that Kerry was "working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt."
Four days later on July 7, 74-year-old Heinz Kerry, Kerry's wife, was hospitalized with symptoms of a seizure that left her in critical condition. Doctors upgraded her condition to "fair" on Monday morning.
On his radio show, Beck compared Heinz Kerry's hospitalization to that of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a blood clot, which he suggested was orchestrated to distract the press from the Benghazi attacks. Beck called the State Department's denial of Kerry's whereabouts a "huge scandal" and wondered if Heinz Kerry's injury -- which took place four days after Morsi's ouster -- was also orchestrated as a distraction, asking "You expect me to believe that Mrs. Ketchup is in critical condition? I mean, no offense, maybe she is." Beck then compared Heinz Kerry's medical scare to Clinton's in 2012, wondering of Clinton's treatment, "Was that just a scam?"
Beck repeated his accusation on his web show, saying of Clinton's hospitalization and treatment, "I didn't believe that. That was to get out of Benghazi." He equated this with Heinz Kerry, adding:
BECK: I mean, I wish Teresa Heinz Kerry the best. But I find it fascinating that she is in critical condition this weekend after the State Department was caught in a lie. The same day the State Department is caught in a massive, massive lie, the same the press is no longer asking anybody about that, because Teresa Heinz is now in the hospital. So, you can't ask any tough questions. This government has zero credibility.
Beck has a history of capitalizing on his media presence to lob attacks against powerful women during their most vulnerable moments. In December, when Clinton first sustained a concussion, Beck ridiculed her and asked whether Clinton's injury was a "scam," claiming, "She shouldn't be President of the United States if she's going into the hospital for some sort of heart condition or brain condition or whatever she was in the hospital for."
Other right-wing media figures joined in mocking Clinton's injury. Several pundits on Fox News Channel accused Clinton of faking her injury in order to avoid testifying before Congress about the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
From the June 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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Conservative commentator Glenn Beck ran to the defense of celebrity chef Paula Deen's right to use racial slurs without fear of being fired from her lucrative deals with the Food Network, QVC, and others. Deen came under fire after she admitted to using the racial slur on several occasions. Beck claimed her critics were engaging in "McCarthyism" and described Deen's words as "violations of political correctness, nothing more."
Deen is being sued by Lisa T. Jackson, a manager at Deen's restaurants in Georgia, over allegations of sexual and racial harassment. A deposition from the proceedings revealed that Deen repeatedly used racial slurs and other offensive language. From The Daily Beast:
In her testimony, Deen admits to using the N-word, reveals her ambivalence towards people watching pornography at a place of work, and--the arguably racist, definitely bizarre bit that's made headlines Wednesday--details the Southern plantation wedding of her dreams, in which black waiters serve guests slave-style.
In the aftermath of the deposition's release to the public, Deen issued a recorded apology. The Food Network announced that her contract will not be renewed, and QVC -- the home shopping network -- is reviewing their business relationship with Deen.
On his June 24 web show, Beck used the backlash against Deen as a platform to rant about what he believes is the active destruction of Constitutional principles, arguing that attacks on Deen over the content of her speech are symptomatic of the nation's decline. Remarkably, Beck invoked the name of African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to defend Deen's use of racial slurs and attack the use of public boycotts -- a tactic King and others utilized to great effect during the civil rights movement.
Leaders from Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and B'nai B'rith have condemned Glenn Beck for depicting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as giving a Nazi salute in a speech Beck gave at the National Rifle Association's annual convention.
On May 4, Glenn Beck delivered a keynote speech to the National Rifle Association's 2013 annual convention. During the speech, he criticized Mayor Bloomberg and showed an image depicting Bloomberg with his arm raised in a Nazi salute and wearing an armband.
On May 7, ABC News reported that Beck "aroused criticism by a major Jewish group for depicting the mayor giving a Nazi salute." Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, told ABC News:
While he doesn't say it, it seems Glenn Beck is implying through an image of Mayor Bloomberg in an apparent Hitlerian salute is that the mayor's policies on gun ownership and other issues are turning New York city into a Nazi-like state. That suggestion is outrageous, insensitive and deeply offensive on so many levels ... Glenn Beck should know better. He has drawn similar inappropriate analogies to the Holocaust before. We wish he would stop trivializing the history of the Holocaust to score partisan political points.
B'nai B'rith, a Jewish humanitarian and human rights organization, made a similar statement to ABC News:
This is yet another example of the increasingly loose use of Holocaust-era imagery to denigrate one's opponents. No matter how heated an issue becomes, such provocative comparisons are always inappropriate and unacceptable.
On his May 7 radio show, Glenn Beck decided that he was the victim of a smear by ABC News and demanded an apology, saying that he imposed Bloomberg's likeness on an image of Lenin, not a Nazi, though he acknowledged that the pose was "a sieg heil salute":
UPDATE: The National Jewish Democratic Council has released a statement calling on the NRA and Republican leaders to condemn Beck's actions:
Glenn Beck's use of disgusting imagery, showing a leading Jewish American as a Nazi, at the National Rifle Association's convention was deeply offensive. The NRA and Republican leaders must stand with the ADL and B'nai B'rith in condemning Glenn Beck--especially those who selected him to give the NRA's keynote address. This isn't only about what Beck said, but the disturbing fact that his stunt was embraced with applause and cheers by attendees at the NRA's national convention. The NRA's crowd is the Republican base and all Americans must take note.
From the April 19 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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Former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein writes that he received death threats and hate mail at his unlisted home address after Fox News launched a smear campaign against him. After Sunstein's nomination and confirmation in 2009, then-Fox host Glenn Beck attacked him and his work for years, invoking mass murderers, totalitarianism and conspiracy theories in conjunction with his name.
Sunstein served as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the first Obama administration from September 2009 to August 2012.
As Mother Jones notes, Sunstein writes in his upcoming book, Simpler: The Future of Government, that Beck "developed what appeared to be a kind of an obsession with me." Sunstein compares Beck's attacks to the "Two Minutes Hate" from the classic novel 1984, where citizens were forced to watch films depicting enemies of the totalitarian party.
Sunstein also notes that he "began to receive a lot of hate mail, including death threats, at my unlisted home address. One of them stated, 'If I were you I would resign immediately. A well-paid individual, who is armed, knows where you live.'"
Zeb Colter, an anti-immigrant character from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) that has recently drawn the ire of right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck, would be right at home in the conservative media. Many of Colter's bigoted and flawed arguments have been the right's stock-in-trade for years.
Beck targeted the Colter character on his radio show, arguing that Colter is "demonizing the Tea Party." Beck also accused the WWE of "mocking me for standing up for the Constitution." Beck's co-host Stu Burguiere complained: "It seems that the villain, the guy you're supposed to hate, is this stereotype of a conservative that I've never met."
Colter currently appears on WWE programming alongside wrestler Jack Swagger, spouting a lot of heated anti-immigrant rhetoric in the middle of a scripted feud with Mexican-born wrestler Alberto Del Rio. According to WWE, Colter's rhetoric is intended to "to build the Mexican American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE's large Latino base."
WWE explains that in order "to create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines."
Mother Jones has released new video of Mitt Romney praising Glenn Beck as a "statesman" at a May 30, 2009 fundraiser at George Wythe University. Romney described Beck as a "man who is really making an impact in our entire country today." As Mother Jones explains, "at the time of the fundraiser, Beck had established himself as a champion of the far right who peddled extreme and conspiratorial views."
Around the time of Romney's praise, Beck was starting up his show on Fox News. In that time period, he repeatedly called President Obama a "socialist" and "Marxist." Beck often compared Obama administration policies to "slavery," the mafia, and "fascism." In one instance Beck pretended to be Obama dousing Americans with gasoline while setting them on fire.
Beck also promoted several conspiracy theories about "global government," "one world currency" and confiscation of firearms by the Obama administration while also accusing the government of overhyping concerns about swine flu for political purposes. Beck compared former Vice President Al Gore to Joseph Goebbels and said Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's empathy "leads you to very bad decisions" like support of Adolph Hitler.
Frequent Fox News guest Rep. Jason Chaffetz is pursuing investigations into the September attacks on a U.S. consulate in Libya, capping a month-long campaign in the right-wing media. This is just the latest example of the right-wing media working with Chaffetz to pursue fringe theories and far-right campaigns.
From the August 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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On Wednesday, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center released a study showing that guests and topics discussed during "The Rush Limbaugh Show," "The Sean Hannity Show," "The Glenn Beck Program," The Savage Nation" and "The John and Ken Show" overwhelmingly marginalized minority groups.
As the study explains:
The findings reveal that the hosts promoted an insular discourse that focused on, for example, anti-immigration, anti-Islam, and pro-Tea Party positions and that this discourse found repetition and amplification through social media.
These viewpoints have far reaching consequences. NHMC President and CEO Alex Nogales told Fox News Latino that the social network surrounding conservative talk radio and Fox News has spread to social media websites resulting in "an echo-chamber of voices, both online and off, that promotes hatred against ethnic, racial and religious groups and the LGBT community on social media web sites."
Using hateful rhetoric, these hosts have cast immigrants as disease ridden, equated pro-immigrant organizations with neo-Nazis, called Islam an "evil religion," claimed the Obama administration is promoting "race riots" and made fun of the ethnicity of Asian-American politicians.
With the United States Supreme Court set to rule on the constitutionality of the Obama administration's 2010 health care reform law, it's worth noting the media coverage at the time of the debate dramatically favored Republican opponents of the bill. The Pew Research Center recently reminded us of that fact when it highlighted the findings of a comprehensive survey they conducted from June 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010.
But it turns out the Pew study likely downplayed just how dramatically media outlets aided and amplified Republican attacks on health care reform, even though Republicans were on the losing side of that legislative showdown. (Since when do losers get to write the history?)
That's because the Pew study didn't effectively capture the run-away misinformation and ceaseless health care reform attacks that flowed from Fox News during the debate.
The study assessed the extent to which certain terms associated with support for and opposition to health care reform found their way into media coverage of the debate. According to Pew's results, "concepts used by opponents were nearly twice as common as those used by supporters."
From the Pew study:
Terms that were closely associated with opposition arguments, such as "government run," were far more present in media reports than terms associated with arguments supporting the bill, such as "pre-existing conditions."
Pew also noted that most of the coverage focused on the politics of the bill, not the substance of the landmark legislation. "Boiled down to its essence," the study concluded, "the opponents' attack on big government resonated more in the media than the supporters' attack on greedy insurance firms."
Basically, the news coverage of the health care debate as provided by the "liberal media" represented a godsend to the Republican Party and the larger conservative movement. The coverage was stacked overwhelmingly in their favor in terms of the volume of GOP talking points stressed in the coverage.
In addition, the media obsessed over the legislative process and the political implications of the bill (49 percent of the coverage), while paying far less attention to how the reform legislation would affect Americans (23 percent), or why reform was even needed. In other words, how the U.S. health care system functions today (which accounted for just nine percent of the coverage).
Or, as Pew put it, "only 9% percent of the overall health care coverage was devoted to the current state of an industry that consumes one-sixth of the U.S. gross domestic product and affects virtually every citizen."
On cable news, just four percent of the health care coverage detailed the workings of the troubled U.S. system.
There aren't many syndicated talk show hosts who get kicked off the air in the most important radio market in the country and then land a big raise. But Glenn Beck just did.
One year after landmark New York City talk station WOR yanked Beck's show due to poor ratings, and one year after Beck has failed to find a replacement affiliate in the market that plays home to Madison Avenue, Beck just signed a five-year contract renewal with Clear Channel's syndication company, Premiere Radio. The company not only gave Beck a raise, but doubled the talker's contract to a reported $100 million.
Note that in 2011, Beck's show was also taken off the air in Philadelphia and it took nearly eighteen months for him and Premiere to find the talker a new radio home in that crucial top-ten market. (Beck returned to Philadelphia just last month.) And in Kansas City, Beck's show in 2011 was moved from the coveted morning drive slot and moved to the less desirable late-evening block.
Perhaps those high-profile dings were some of the reasons industry guide Talkers Magazine recently demoted Beck on its annual list of the country's most important talk show hosts. This year, Beck tumbled from No. 3 and No. 9 on Talkers' "Heavy Hundred" list.
And yet Clear Channel, the conservative-friendly media behemoth with a soft spot for right-wing radio, just doubled Beck's deal to a reported $100 million, while the struggling company remains buried under an eleven-figure mountain of debt.
As I noted when Rush Limbaugh was rewarded in 2009 by Clear Channel with the biggest contract in terrestrial radio history (even though there appeared to be no other industry competitors in a position to lure the talker away), there's something strange about Clear Channel going so far out of its way to overpay right-wing hosts while the rest of the company suffers through a chronic economic depression. (Forbes this year dubbed Clear Channel's once-booming radio business a "loss leader.")
Question: Why is Clear Channel, now owned by Bain Capital, so anxious to compensate two of its right-wing talk show hosts nearly $60 million each year. In terms of context regarding the entertainment industry economy, that $60 million is nearly identical to what late-night hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman make each year, and they bring in nearly half-a-billion dollars in advertising revenue annually for their TV bosses.