"There's a sucker born every minute."
-- Glenn Beck, Salt Lake City, July 6
SALT LAKE CITY -- The double rainbow arching directly over the outdoor stage could only mean one thing: God was smiling on Glenn Beck. Two hours after monsoon-like rains drenched and darkened Salt Lake Valley, and with weather reports still threatening an even chance of thunderstorms, Beck's fans celebrated the divine thumbs-ups in the clouds. As soon as the rainbows appeared, sounds of prayerful thanks rippled through the USANA amphitheater, a modest venue on the city's western outskirts. "It's God's message," said a woman in a raincoat fashioned from a garbage bag. "I just knew He wouldn't let tonight get washed out."
He did not. Aside from a few light sprinkles early in the unusually cool July 6 night, "Man in the Moon," the inaugural event of Beck's new entertainment company, American Dream Labs, went off without a hitch. This included the execution of a high-wire upside-down flag folding ceremony that had failed repeatedly in rehearsal. After much internal debate, Beck finally green-lit the risky act after getting the meteorological message from his Number One Fan. "When I saw the double rainbow, I thought, 'Let's go for it,'" Beck told the crowd to cheers.
As with Beck's last three summer gatherings, conservatism's least predictable impresario promoted "Man in the Moon" as an historic turning point in the American saga. Like other Beck-identified turning points, this one came with a merch table and all the lean marketing muscle of a major-market NFL franchise. Sixteen thousand people from around the country, including Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens,answered Beck's call to support his stage and video experiment, buying tickets in a tiered system that spiked out at $1,500 VIP passes. Gold and Platinum tickets included premium seating and parking, a signed poster, and a 10 second meet-and-greet photo op with Beck.
Not included in the ticket price was access to three days of lectures and seminars at the Grand America Hotel. Those passes to talks by leading conservative authors and activists like Fox's Michelle Malkin and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) cost extra, the proceeds going to the Beck-affiliated charity, Mercury One. The morning of the main event, that non-profit helped raise money for the charity of businessman Jon Huntsman Sr., a long-time Beck ally and the father of the former Utah governor and presidential candidate. FreedomWorks, which pays Beck one million dollars a year for fundraising and media support, functioned as an unofficial co-sponsor of "Man in the Moon." The night before Beck's show, theright-wing advocacy group hosted a "Free the People" event at the USANA amphitheater.
But nobody traveled to Salt Lake to hear FreedomWorks' Matt Kibbe give his flat freedom rap, or listen to Rafael Cruz, father of Senator Ted, compare Barack Obama to Fidel Castro. The draw in Utah was the final night's premiere of Beck's latest creation, "Man in the Moon." Tonight was not about restoring another vague concept like Honor or Courage, but celebrating the launch of Beck's new production company. As the sun set on the Wasatch mountain range, Beck described American Dream Labs' first offering as opening a new front in his media war to right and rescue the republic.
This is the front of popular culture. The Blaze octopus (web, TV, soon a radio network) would continue to base Beck's brand as a force in news and opinion; two years after losing his Fox gig in the wake of a years-long advertiser boycott, he is now attempting, with some early success, to muscle his way back into cable on his own terms. The Dream Labs, meanwhile, would function more like a faceless corporate movie studio, with Beck deliberately lowering his profile in the interests of growth.
"Our culture has gone off the rails," Beck told the sold-out amphitheater crowd. "And nobody on our side has done anything about it -- until tonight."
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.
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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