From the April 19 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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Hours after it was debunked, Glenn Beck continued to beat the drum of a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is deporting a Saudi national who was behind the tragic bombings at the Boston marathon.
The conspiracy theory arose when Steve Emerson, a guest on Fox News' Hannity, accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of preparing to deport a Saudi national "person of interest" in the bombings at the Boston marathon. Right-wing blogs like Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Breitbart.com, WND, and Infowars quickly latched on to the story, alleging President Obama wishes to cover up Saudi Arabian and Al Qaeda ties to the attack.
The myth pretends that a Saudi national who was hospitalized after sustaining injuries in the bombing -- initially reported to be a "person of interest," though he never was -- is the same man DHS is allegedly in the process of deporting for visa violations.
DHS soundly discredited the conspiracy theory this afternoon, explaining to CNN's Jake Tapper that the rumors are confusing two very different men.
Still, hours later, Beck continued to run with the debunked conspiracy on his television program, claiming his "sources" knew better (emphasis added):
We at the Blaze know that this Saudi national is a bad, bad, bad man ... This administration is playing an extraordinarily dangerous game. They have very little regard for what it takes to be a citizen. Before the sequester cuts happened, they opened the prison and let illegals out. Who does that? Remember also, the Saudi national that was -- is about to get on a plane -- involved in blowing the legs off of American citizens, being held in protective custody or being protected, at least, by our administration. He will be put in protective custody and the plans are to deport him.
Beck's claims, of course, are far from true.
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."
What is it about President Obama's inaugurations that bring out the craziest of the right-wing crazies?
Four years ago, Obama's historic swearing-in sparked months' worth of teeth-chattering paranoia, trumpeted by the conservative media, about how the new Democratic president posed a mortal threat to America and that drastic action might need to be taken.
In 2009, a far-right Newsmax columnist determined that a "military coup "to resolve the 'Obama problem'" was not "unrealistic." That's about the same time Glenn Beck used his then-new program on Fox News to game out bloody scenarios for the coming civil war against the Obama-led tyranny. Note that the armed rebellion rhetoric was uncorked just weeks after Obama's first cabinet had been confirmed.
Now, four years later as Obama's second swearing-in approaches, the same misguided insurrectionist pageantry is back on display. (The fringe John Birch Society is probing the likelihood of "armed resistance" against the government -- "an unlikely prospect, for now at least.") And this time, Adolf Hitler stars in a leading role.
In fact, there's a disturbing collision now underway featuring two signature, conservative paranoid fantasies. One holds that Obama is like Hitler; that he's a tyrant ready to undo democracy at home. The other is that Americans need access to an unregulated supply of assault weapons in order to fight their looming insurrectionist war with the government.
In the last week we've heard more and more conservatives try to tie the two wild tales together: Obama's allegedly pending gun grab will prove he's just like Hitler, which will demonstrate the need for citizens to declare war on the government.
Ignoring nearly 250 years of our democratic history, conservative voices across the media landscape have been nodding their heads in agreement suggesting it's only a matter of time before the United States resembles a tyrannical dictatorship that will be either fascistic or Stalinist in nature (or both, if the rhetorician feels no obligation to historical accuracy).
So much for the notion of American exceptionalism -- "the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history" -- that conservatives love to preach.
When former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey complained to Media Matters last week that the Tea Party group had wasted money when it paid Glenn Beck and Rush to say "nice things" about the organization on the air, Armey sounded a lot like a record label executive bemoaning the high cost of radio promotion.
Armey protested that in making the payments to the high-profile talkers, FreedomWorks was "spending too damn much" and "getting too little value out of it." The former House majority leader didn't know the details of Limbaugh's contract, but said Beck had been paid at least $1 million last year to help the organization fundraise, an effort internal FreedomWorks documents reveal garnered the organization roughly $850,000 (not including some third party event ticket sales).
He wouldn't be the first chairman to second-guess dubious marketing or branding efforts. But in singling out the amorphous payments made to the radio shows, Armey raised questions about what the conservative group was doing showering the two programs with so much money in exchange for on-air flattery and on-air promotion.
That sounds an awful lot like payola.
Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey says the conservative outlet that helped launch the Tea Party paid Glenn Beck at least $1 million last year to fundraise for the organization, an arrangement he said provided "too little value" for the money.
"The arrangement was simply FreedomWorks paid Glenn Beck money and Glenn Beck said nice things about FreedomWorks on the air," Armey, the former House majority leader, told Media Matters Friday. "I saw that a million dollars went to Beck this past year, that was the annual expenditure."
Armey, who left the organization this past fall after a dispute over its internal operations, said a similar arrangement was also in place with Rush Limbaugh, but did not know the exact financial details.
"I put it down now as basically as paid advertising for FreedomWorks by Beck," Armey said, calling it a mistake.
Media Matters contacted Armey after Mother Jones magazine published a leaked copy of the document FreedomWorks prepared for its Winter 2012 board of directors meeting. That document alluded to "embedded media programs" for fundraising that featured the two conservative radio hosts and claimed that fundraising efforts featuring them raised nearly $1.3 million in 2012, not including event ticket sales from third-party vendors.
From the leaked FreedomWorks document:
Mother Jones further reported that the organization "plans to continue its financial support for Glenn Beck's media enterprise, including sharing a TV studio with and leasing office space to the Washington bureau of TheBlaze, Beck's website and TV network."
Armey said he was told of the Beck arrangement when it first began, but that it would only cost the organization about $250,000 a year. "Once that was approved by the trustees, it then took on a life of its own, it got bigger than we understood it to be. All of a sudden it was we are paying Limbaugh as well as Beck." FreedomWorks did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In response to a compromise on tax policy, conservative media are again comparing the United States to Greece. According to right-wing logic, the deal brings America even closer to the violence and discord in Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, and just about every European country whose citizens have protested austerity measures.
Of course, conservative media figures have spent at least three years ringing this same alarm. Economic experts have spent just as much time dismissing this panicked comparison, but to little avail. This Media Matters video, drawing on three years of television coverage of deficits and spending, shows the prevalence and longevity of the Greece talking point:
Every election cycle brings with it a host of pundits who get the results wrong; who misread the campaign and perhaps view events through hopeful, partisan eyes. And there's nothing unusual or especially egregious about that. What was different this time was the spectacle of a whole slate of Obama-hating conservatives who claimed that despite very clear polling evidence to the contrary, that Mitt Romney would win the election in a "landslide." Not only would the Republican defeat Obama, but he'd also do it sweeping, historic fashion.
It was fascinating to watch because these claims were supported by nothing but blind faith, as well as the far-right's signature hatred of the president and a conspiratorial view of the media. And this was the fantastic, implausible scenario conservatives fed their grateful readers, viewers and listeners right up until last night.
Indeed, it was that blinding contempt for President Obama that led so many pundits astray in the final weeks of the campaign. Unable to even comprehend how Obama would win re-election, not after he'd been denounced as a socialist, Marxist, and racist who sympathized with terrorists who was "the second coming of Jimmy Cater," his fervent media critics relied on their gut. (Truthiness?) And their gut told them this election was a no-brainer.
The Romney Landslide nicely captured the flight of fancy -the collective allergic reaction to reality-- that has defined the conservative media since the day Obama was inaugurated. Faced with the prospect of a second term by a president they had endlessly condemned as an enemy of the state (and much, much worse), the right-wing media embraced pure campaign denial and announced that Doomsday awaited Obama on November 6:
• Dick Morris: "Prediction: Romney 325, Obama 213"
• Glenn Beck: "321-217 victory for Romney in the electoral college."
• Rush Limbaugh: "Everything -- Except the Polls -- Points to a Romney Landslide"
• Michael Barone: "Romney Beats Obama, Handily"
• George Will: Romney 321, Obama 217
• Newsmax: "Expect a Mitt Romney Landslide"
• Larry Kudlow: "I am now predicting a 330 vote electoral landslide."
Political observers remain convinced that winning Ohio next week represents the key to electoral success for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. They also seemed to be in agreement that the federal government's successful, $50 billion bailout of the auto industry stands out as perhaps the most important issue in the must-win Buckeye state, where an estimated 850,000 jobs are tied to the industry. But Romney's in a bind over the bailout, and for that he can blame the conservative media.
Previously, Romney had derided the government aid as a "sweetheart deal disguised as a rescue plan" and guaranteed that if Detroit companies accepted federal aid, you could "kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." His dismissive comments became more strident during the Republican primary season, even after it became clear the bailout had succeeded. That's when Romney "joined other Republican candidates in a chorus of bailout-bashing and union-bashing," wrote the Detroit Free Press' Tom Walsh. Romney was busy "painting the Obama administration's crisis-management effort as a reckless campaign to run up the national debt and do favors for labor unions."
To now help fix his political problem in Ohio, the conservative press, led by Fox News, has been trying to blur Romney's stance on the issue, claiming he simply called for "managed bankruptcy with government backing." In fact, the approach Romney advocated would have thrown the companies into turmoil and cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs.
But the question remains, why did Romney harden his stance against the bailout over time? Why did he campaign on the idea that government assistance was "the wrong way to go"? One likely explanation is that the right-wing media, a dominant force in the Republican primary campaign (i.e the Fox News Primary), railed against the bailout with extraordinary force. For conservative players like Rush Limbaugh and the team at Fox, the government's helping hand to Detroit symbolized the zenith of Obama's alleged socialist leanings. It also signaled the demise of both democracy and capitalism in America.
PBS' Frontline recently aired a documentary titled "Climate of Doubt," examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that "Climate of Doubt," often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.
During the October 22 presidential debate, conservative media took to Twitter to launch personal attacks against President Obama in an attempt to criticize his performance and distract from Mitt Romney's lies.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter referred to Obama as "the retard":
Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes wrote, "Seems to me President Obama's condescension has crossed the line from aggressive to disrespectful. Will voters like him mocking Romney?"
Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.
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.