For the past several summers Glenn Beck has held massive events that, depending on your perspective, are either gatherings of epic historical significance or yearly reminders of Beck's inflated sense of self-importance.
Continuing the tradition, this July 4 holiday weekend Beck has been hosting "Man in the Moon" in Salt Lake City, Utah, featuring as its central event tonight an ambitious stage show retelling the history of America. The performance will apparently feature a 35-foot replica of the moon, original music, giant robots, and a Cirque du Soleil-esque wire act.
In coordination with Man in the Moon, the Beck-affiliated charity Mercury One has been selling tickets for what is in effect a miniature, fringe version of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference -- a series of 18 speeches, four panels, museum tours, and other events taking place over the course of the weekend starring a range of conservative figures, including Republican elected officials like Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart. (Though Beck's wife sits on the board of Mercury One, the organization writes on their website that Beck himself "has no official position" with the group, despite serving as their "greatest advocate and spokesperson.")
Prices for the events range from free book signings with conservative stalwarts like Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin to a $1,000 Beck-guided tour of a special museum collection put together for the event featuring items like "George Washington's original Badge of Merit" and "Joseph Smith's exquisite gold pocket watch."
According to Beck's The Blaze website, Man in the Moon follows in the footsteps of his previous summer events, which were designed to "empower everyday Americans to stand up and reach their full potential--and by extension restore America as a beacon of freedom and greatness to people all over the world."
Helping to set the expectations high is GBTV host Raj Nair, who tweeted after watching a preview of the Man in the Moon stage show that the performance represented "a new type of BRILLIANCE. More than a game changer, it will change the conversation completely."
That Beck and his team would promote Man in the Moon as a revolutionary spectacle is nothing new for them; hyperbole seems to be the main thread connecting these yearly events.
Beck promised his 2010 "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, DC, would represent an "American miracle" that would "be remembered in American history as the turning point." (Having repeatedly claimed active divine influence during the planning of the event, Beck later pointed to geese flying over the proceedings - which were held a few hundred yards from a body of water - as "God's flyover" and evidence of a "miracle.")
The next year, Beck touted his rally in Israel as a possible fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and "planet course-altering event" that was "not only going to change your life forever, it will change your family's life. And it will change the direction of the world."
While Man in the Moon may not end up changing the course of history, it certainly affords his followers the opportunity to deplete their bank accounts. Mercury One has posted a schedule of the holiday weekend's many events; based on that schedule, below are some of the people Beck faithful will be opening their wallets to see.
From the June 26 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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The Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The decision is sure to raise the ire of conservative media figures that have spent years railing against marriage equality.
Right-wing figures have warned that marriage equality could lead to legalized pedophilia, marriage between people and a wide range of animals, and the complete destruction of America.
Below is a list of 30 of conservatives' most offensive, bizzare, and outlandish arguments demonizing marriage equality, which Media Matters originally published in March.
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.
Glenn Beck announced on his website The Blaze that he will be attending a June 19 rally in Washington, D.C. to oppose the Senate's immigration reform bill and to "stand against amnesty." In a segment titled "Why is Glenn going to DC?" Beck claimed that the bill would pit "amnesty over security," culminating weeks of inflammatory rhetoric directed at the bill and its supporters:
Glenn Beck's new novel, The Eye Of Moloch (A Thriller), gives the reader plenty to think about.
One could dwell at length about how poorly written The Eye Of Moloch is. This incomprehensible disaster is the story of a Tea Party-like group of freedom fighters called, amusingly, the Founders' Keepers and their efforts to save America from an evil PR firm that is trying to frame these patriotic heroes for an act of terrorism that will tip the country towards chaos. The plot is poached without shame from its predecessor, The Overton Window, which saw the Founders' Keepers framed by the same PR firm for setting off a nuclear bomb in Nevada. Why was it necessary to further discredit the Founders' Keepers when they've already had an act of nuclear terrorism successfully laid at their feet? Because Beck and his ghostwriters, demonstrating an active hostility towards continuity and logic, decided between novels that the gigantic nuclear explosion had actually been covered up somehow.
One could focus on how drearily dull The Eye Of Moloch is. Beck clearly took to heart the many reviews that complained of The Overton Window's lack of action and inserted some rote gun battles into the sequel, but The Eye Of Moloch is still often quite boring. One of the protagonists, Hollis, spends the first 40 pages or so dramatically fighting off paramilitary skinheads, and then passes the next 200 doing nothing on an isolated ranch in Wyoming. Noah Gardner, the protagonist from The Overton Window, is wounded in a battle in the opening pages of The Eye Of Moloch, and then spends half the book lying in a hospital bed and going to work. Oh the thrills! The reason these characters don't do much is that high-speed chases and daring acts of espionage don't allow for the long limited-government homilies that stand in for dialogue and stretch out this tiresome slog to a punishing 400 pages.
The lack of action is a shame because Beck and his crew of ghost novelists created a number of characters who were constantly on the verge of being interesting. Beck introduces a government agent with one leg, but her disability never presents her with any obstacles to overcome. At the end of The Overton Window, Noah found himself in a torture session presided over by his own father. That's a bizarre emotional dynamic that, in the hands of a capable writer, could be explored to great effect. The Eye Of Moloch, however, gives us just one interaction between father and son, during which Noah snips at the man who physically tortured him: "Your apology is so unbelievably not accepted."
Instead we get characters who behave incomprehensibly as they stumble from one cliché to the next. Noah's father, the villain from The Overton Window, experiences a change of heart because of a terminal cancer diagnosis and meets his end after being pushed down an elevator shaft. The Eye Of Moloch's villain is a 132-year-old man (not a typo) who is overfond of grandiloquent declarations of his nefarious intent. Here's an actual line of dialogue from the maleficent supercentenarian: "Now then, before we enjoy our brunch, let us discuss how we shall finally bring the brief and teetering empire of the United States of America to an unceremonious close." That's pretty evil, even without factoring in the subtler evil of making his associate wait to enjoy what probably was a pretty good brunch.
"[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.