"[T]ell me why the last torchbearer of the sad ideals of the American spirit, this Molly Ross, is now being contacted by a former co-conspirator who nearly spoiled all of my plans only last year, and who also happens to be the son of my right-hand man?" - The Eye Of Moloch's 132-year-old antagonist
Building on the runaway critical success of his 2010 debut novel The Overton Window ("a lurching, low-speed derailment," "an instructively bad book," "a plodding read"), Glenn Beck is back with a second installment: The Eye Of Moloch.
The one-dimensional characters, creepy libertarian sermonizing, and extended periods of dull inaction that marked The Overton Window have returned in The Eye Of Moloch, making for a read that is as baffling as it is boring. Media Matters has picked over the book and highlighted some of The Eye Of Moloch's absurd conspiracism and impossibly wide plot holes.
The plot to The Eye Of Moloch is, in many ways, the same as The Overton Window: an evil PR firm is trying to destroy America, and a scrappy Founding Fathers-obsessed resistance group called Founders' Keepers is working to foil the scheme. This time around, the villainous corporation, led by 132-year-old supervillain Aaron Doyle, is trying to pin a series of cross-country shootings on the Founders' Keepers. Those resistance fighters, led by The Overton Window's returning protagonists Noah Gardner and Molly Ross, are on the run and trying to infiltrate a super-secret archive that details every evil conspiracy perpetrated on the American people.
And there's still terrible writing. A lot of terrible writing.
As the debate over gun legislation has raged in recent months, prominent gun activists have been appearing on the radio and TV shows of fringe conspiracy theorists to push their message.
The hosts of these shows believe in a range of absurd conspiracies, including that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9-11 attacks; that the recent mass shootings in Newton and Aurora were somehow staged; and that impoverished black men are gearing up to kill "white heterosexual Christians."
Despite regularly uniting with fringe conspiracy theorists -- and often joining them in espousing outlandish conspiracies -- Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt, longtime National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, and former NRA president David Keene represent organizations that still wield considerable influence in the debate over gun legislation.
The NRA says that it has millions of members and annual revenues in excess of $200 million, and their annual meetings regularly draw leading Republican presidential candidates. Pratt's group Gun Owners of America has also become an important player in the gun debate; an April article by The New York Times highlighted how GOA was "emerging as an influential force" over then-pending Senate gun legislation, while ignoring Pratt's own record of extremism.
In recent weeks, extremist radio host Pete Santilli has made headlines for violent comments he made about Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and the Bush family. (Santilli's inflammatory comments include saying the he wants to shoot Clinton "in the vagina and let her suffer right before my eyes" over her supposed "treason.")
While it's tempting to dismiss Santilli as just another crackpot with a microphone and an Internet connection, his show has been validated by appearances from major gun activists like Pratt and Nugent.
Nugent and Pratt's appearances on Santilli's show are not an aberration; they're symptomatic of how prominent gun activists have teamed up with fringe conspiracy theorists to oppose gun legislation and spin fantastical theories about the government disarming (or going to war with) American citizens.
Working with these fringe hosts may be a deliberate strategy; during an appearance with infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones last year, Pratt praised Jones for helping increase GOA's exposure, saying "thank you for having me on, because we have a much bigger voice because of you, my friend." (During that same interview, Pratt suggested the government may have been behind the mass shooting in Aurora.)
In this report, we look at gun activists' appearances with:
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.
During the 2013 National Rifle Association annual meeting, held May 3 - 5 in Houston, Texas, the gun rights organization reaffirmed its hardline stance against any restrictions on firearms and hosted an over-the-top Glenn Beck presentation that depicted one of the NRA's political opponents as a Nazi.
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre set the tone of the convention with a May 4 speech that warned of a "long war against our constitutional rights" and concluded with a message for media and political "elites" in America: "Let them be damned."
The meeting also involved the adoption of a resolution put forward by fringe gun activist Jeff Knox that stated the NRA will oppose all future gun restrictions. Also featured at the annual convention was a speech from newly-elected NRA president Jim Porter, a hardline gun rights activist, that included the claim that President Obama seeks to take "revenge" against gun owners.
In a freewheeling presentation billed as the "NRA's most important gathering of the year," conservative radio personality Glenn Beck offensively portrayed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a Nazi giving the Sieg Hail salute before concluding his hour-and-a-half long "Stand and Fight" speech by comparing the struggles of gun owners to those of the African-American civil rights movement.
Here are nine moments from the NRA's annual meeting that typify the fringe nature of the organization:
"We Shall Overcome:" Beck Adopts The Mantle Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Referencing the Underground Railroad and lunch counter protests, Beck said that he hoped the NRA would join him in a passive resistance movement. At the apex of his speech, Beck stated, "We are the law-abiding God-fearing members of the NRA. We are Americans. And we will be clear. We will stand; we'll march if we have to. We'll stand because we must. But we will not be moved. Our right to keep and bear arms will not be infringed. We will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we will follow the footsteps of Frederick Douglas, Winston Churchill, Thomas Paine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, [David] Ben-Gurion, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ghandi, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King, hear me now. Hear me now. We shall overcome."
This weekend former Senator Evan Bayh echoed the beliefs of many in the media that the National Rifle Association has only recently moved to the fringe, telling Politico "their position is now in the end zone, not at the 40-yard line."
These extremes were on display at the NRA annual meeting this weekend where Glenn Beck, during a keynote address just days after the announcement that New York's Cablevision would soon begin to carry his Blaze network to millions of households, displayed on the screen a poster-like image of Michael Bloomberg giving the Sieg Heil salute. To equate the Jewish mayor of New York City to Nazis used to be beyond the pale in American politics.
One could say this outrageous hate speech was Beck acting like Beck, demonstrating his herculean effort to prove Godwin's Law, but Nazi comparisons have been part and parcel of the NRA's rhetoric for decades.
In 1995, former President George H.W. Bush resigned his lifetime membership in the organization after Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre signed a fundraising letter that claimed the Assault Weapons Ban passed earlier that year "gives jackbooted Government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property and even injure and kill us."
Bush told the organization, "your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country."
The rhetoric might have been new to Bush, but the organization had freely referred to law enforcement officials as "jackbooted thugs" for years. It was only in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing that previously ignored communications, such as direct mail pieces, were scrutinized by the media, outing this disgraceful language.
From the May 4 National Rifle Association "Stand and Fight" rally:
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From the May 2 edition of The Blaze's The Glenn Beck Program:
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Glenn Beck can't keep his conspiracies straight.
It took the conservative host less than 90 seconds during his May 1 television show to produce one of the most glaring media contradictions in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Not surprisingly, Beck didn't seem to notice the obvious inconsistency. That's what happens when you chase hollow and reckless conspiracy theories for a living.
The mix-up occurred during one of Beck's signature, rambling monologues about what really happened in Boston and who's really to blame. (Hint: Saudi Arabia.) But Beck managed to tie together two competing conspiracy theories that draw opposite conclusions about the Saudi government's involvement.
Recall that after the April 15 attack, Beck engaged in a wild conspiracy, insisting that a Saudi national student who had been injured in the blast and who was questioned by authorities was "absolutely involved" in the Patriot's Day attack. (Law enforcement officials have repeatedly claimed he was not.) Beck called the student a "dirt bag," a "bad, bad, bad man," and "possibly the ringleader" of the bombing that killed three people and injured more than one hundred.
The White House was "trying to make this a lone wolf crime so the Saudi government will be spared embarrassment, and the U.S. will be spared explaining how a terror cell was active when we have Al-Qaeda on the run," Beck told radio listeners on April 18.
"You want to know why we have terror over and over in our streets?" he asked on April 22. "Saudi Arabia. It is time someone on network television says it." The host even called for President Obama to be impeached for what the host considered to be a sprawling government cover-up surrounding the student, Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda.
On May 1, Beck returned to the claim insisting, "We know Saudi Arabia is involved."
Then, less than 90 seconds after implicating Saudi Arabia, Beck latched onto yesterday's conspiracy-of-the-day claim, courtesy of Britain's Daily Mail. It reported Saudi officials had delivered a "very specific" written warning to the Department of Homeland Security in 2012 about Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Saudi officials were allegedly so concerned about Tsarnaev's radical ties that his visa request to visit Saudi Arabia had been denied. Beck's site, The Blaze, also pushed the story, as did scores right-wing blogs.
The Department of Homeland Security, the White House, and Saudi Arabia's U.S. Ambassador have all since categorically denied the Daily Mail's claim. The newspaper has produced no evidence to back up its anonymous source's dubious allegation.
That didn't matter to Beck. Because the unproven claim made the Obama administration look bad, and because it made it look like government officials had missed obvious warning signs about Tsarnaev, Beck embraced the Saudi story as truth. But that left him in the very awkward position of insisting Saudi Arabia was "involved" in the bombing (and not in a good way), while simultaneously reporting Saudi Arabia tried to warn the U.S. about the bomber.
In Beck's telling, Saudi Arabia officials were both the good guys and the bad guys in Boston. Only he would try to paper over a boulder-sized inconsistency like that in the span of 90 seconds.
Question: Was it keen programming like this that convinced executives at Cablevision to add Beck's Internet channel to Cablevision's New York City metropolitan cable system?
The National Rifle Association's annual meeting on May 3-5 will feature a number of conservative media figures -- including Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Ted Nugent -- who often use violent rhetoric and promote gun-related conspiracy theories.
Glenn Beck is engaging in a bit of revisionist history concerning his Fox News exit. At an April 27 event at New York University, Beck portrayed his departure as self-initiated and suggested that Fox CEO Roger Ailes pleaded with him to stay, explaining:
"If you stay in it too long, you become Norma Desmond. I remember feeling, 'If you do not leave now, you won't leave with your soul intact.'"
"At the end, when we were leaving, it was a long process. Roger said to me, 'You're not going to leave.' And I said, 'I am.' And he said, 'Nobody does,' meaning leave television....And I said, 'I'm fortunate because I haven't been in it that long.' I knew what this big, huge Fox empire brought to the table, and I had to leave before I became too enamored of that."
A Fox News spokesperson issued a sharp rebuke contradicting Beck's claim, instead citing Glenn Beck's advertiser losses as the major cause of Beck's exit, saying:
"Glenn Beck wasn't trying to save his soul, he was trying to save his ass. Advertisers fled his show and even Glenn knows what that means in our industry. Yet, we still tried to give him a soft landing. Guess no good deed goes unpunished."
Indeed. Following a series of grassroots efforts beginning in July 2009, around the time Beck accused President Obama of being a "racist," advertisers began fleeing his Fox News show. A Media Matters study revealed that the number of paid advertisements during Glenn Beck's show plummeted and never recovered as a result of those grassroots efforts:
Advertiser rates for Glenn Beck's Fox News program suffered as well. According to an analysis of industry data, the same ad, from the same advertiser cost between three and six times more to run on other comparable Fox News programs than it did to run on Beck's program:
While I was active in the StopBeck effort, detractors and even Beck himself would dismiss the effects of the advertiser losses. I long maintained that the losses were in fact costing Fox News money and were severely limiting the viability of Beck's program. And, now Fox News has all but confirmed it.
Glenn Beck's The Blaze continues to push the debunked claim that a Saudi Arabian national who was briefly placed on the federal No-Fly List following the Boston Marathon bombing was wrongly removed from that list and, at one time, was a suspect.
And now it wants Congress to help.
For weeks, Beck and The Blaze have fixated on the 20-year-old Saudi man, Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, claiming that he was once considered a suspect in the bombing and had been up for deportation. Other news outlets have debunked these claims.
But just this week, a producer at the conservative outlet sent an email (since obtained by Media Matters) to staff members at congressional offices of both houses and parties asking whether members of Congress would "be willing to raise" the Blaze's claims with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano or FBI Director Robert Mueller.
The email (below) from Blaze producer Virginia Grace states:
From: Grace, Virginia
Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 4:40 PM
To: Grace, Virginia
Subject: Revised: Request from TheBlaze
Over the past two weeks TheBlaze has been reporting on the Saudi National, AbdulRahman ali Al-Harbi, who was briefly detained as a potential suspect after the Boston bombing. Shortly after a search of his apartment in Revere, Massachusetts an event file was issued by the NTC designating him as a terrorist under the Immigration Nationality Act 212 (a)(3)(B)(ii)(II) and making reference to involvement in the bombing. Twenty four hours later the file was amended to remove the terrorist designation and a short time after that removed from the system altogether. To date Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has refused to comment on the terrorist designation, first even denying Mr. Al-Harbi had ever been a person of interest before finally admitting to Congress on Tuesday that he had, in fact, been placed on the Watch List for a short time. TheBlaze believes the public has a right to know why Al-Harbi went from terrorist to nobody in the span of 48 hours. What evidence led to the designation in the first place and what transpired to reverse it a short time later.
Would you be willing to raise those issues with Ms. Napolitano or Mr. Robert Muller at the FBI and report your findings to the American public?
Please let us know.
Sincerely, The Blaze
Several journalism veterans say this email is unusual for a media outlet, both as an effort to spark political action and as an attempt to get members of Congress to do their reporting.
"My general view is that legitimate, neutral news organizations should report and let members of Congress decide on their own whether they want to get involved," said Andy Alexander, former Washington Post ombudsman.
From the April 25 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Prefacing his comments by insisting he knows "how foreign affairs work," Glenn Beck on April 18 announced that his website, The Blaze, was breaking news about the Boston Marathon bombing: A Saudi national student on a student visa and was "absolutely involved" in the Patriot's Day blast was being deported by the U.S. government for security reasons.
Beck went further, claiming the student, or "dirt bag," as the host described him, was "possibly the ringleader" in the bombing that killed three people and injured more than one hundred, and the government was deliberately covering it up.
Beck urged listeners to spread the breaking news via Twitter and Facebook because, he warned, the mainstream media would ignore the revelation. But the right-wing media would pick up the slack. Fox News' Sean Hannity helped launch the story on April 17 and continued to fan it yesterday, claiming the student had previously "been involved with a terrorist or terror activity," while a swarm of right-wing sites pushed the paranoid tale.
By making his wild allegations, Beck was asking listeners to ignore the fact that law enforcement officials had previously, and repeatedly, denied earlier right-wing media claims that the Saudi student had been taken into "custody," or was in any way responsible for the blast.
Indeed, officials at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security both soundly denied the story, explaining that there were two different Saudi nationals: one recovering in a Boston hospital who had witnessed and been injured in the explosions but was not a suspect, and another in ICE custody who was unrelated to the bombing investigation. Beck responded by calling for President Obama to be impeached for what he considered the sprawling government cover-up that now surrounded the student, Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda.
So yeah, it was that kind of week for the right-wing media. It was a debacle.
In the same week that Pulitzer prizes were announced honoring the finest in American journalism, many in the far-right media worked to set news standards in mindless, awful behavior in the wake of the Boston attack.
Faced with covering the most important American terror news story in a decade, too many players opted to just make stuff up. Prompting witch hunts, they cast innocents as would-be killers and then couldn't be bothered with apologies.
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.