Beck repeatedly gets basic facts wrong despite boasting that "some of the biggest minds in America" do his research
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Fox News' Glenn Beck has bragged that "[m]y credibility means everything to me," and that he has "some of the biggest minds in America" on his research team "working harder than ... any staff ever on television" to get the truth out, but Beck frequently gets his facts wrong. For instance, in recent weeks Beck has falsely claimed Van Jones was a "convicted felon"; repeated Andrew Breitbart's false claim that an online video showed community organizers from the Gamaliel Foundation "pray[ing]" to President Obama; claimed an obsolete constitutional provision protecting the slave trade applies to "immigrants"; and, most recently, claimed a "Class of 2007" mosaic painted on tiles outside a California school was carried by G-20 protesters in Pittsburgh this week.
Beck frequently heaps praise on his research team
Beck: "I have some of the biggest minds in America ... do[ing] research" for me. From the August 13 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
BECK: I will tell you that I ask my floor crew and my producers every night after the show and every morning at 7 a.m., "Guys, where do we have it wrong? What are we missing? How come there isn't anyone else on this, these connections."
I will tell you that I have two of very, very prominent universities that are currently working offsite for me on research. I have some of the biggest minds in America that are willing to look -- don't necessarily agree with me -- that are willing to look and do research. I have independent researchers, I have universities doing research for me, I have my own personal researchers, I do my research, and I have Fox News doing research for me.
So I can only tell you that I don't -- if I can't vet it, if I have conflicting evidence, if my news team happens to disagree with the research of my personal team or the colleges happen to disagree with it, I don't air it. I will tell you that we are vetted. I will tell you that we may get things wrong from time to time, but I will tell you when we get them wrong.
Beck: My research team is "working harder than I think any staff ever on television." From the August 25 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:
BECK: I'm just going through just some of the news of the day, that is -- it is amazing how much we have to talk about and how much is going on. I beg you, beg you, beg you, please, watch the TV show this week. Every night is a different piece of the puzzle. I've been trying to put this together for you and have been -- I've been working very hard along with my staff. They have just -- they're working harder than I think any staff ever on television, trying to piece this together, and we're doing it at the time when nobody is using television.
BECK: I mean, there are opinions in this show, but I am surrounding it with facts, and that's why I'm asking you to watch the show -- DVR it. Use it as a reference, please. These facts have come from hours and hours and hours of research. Hours and hours and hours of watching speeches that people gave. I have personally funded research myself. I'm using all of the resources at Fox. We're using university researchers as well. We're doing everything we can. Please, please watch and use this information and spread it among your friends and your co-workers, because I don't care if you're Republican or Democrat, you know something's wrong.
Beck: "My credibility means everything to me, so before we put anything on the radio show or Fox News, we check, we double-check, we triple-check." From the July 29 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:
BECK: Now, there are a ton of bogus nonsense sources -- a ton of bogus emails and everything else circulating. My credibility means everything to me, so before we put anything on the radio show or Fox News, we check, we double-check, we triple-check. And even at times with all of that, with the resources that I have, we still get it wrong. But I will tell you the one thing we never start with is a chain email.
But Beck's "research" often consists of pure fiction
Beck falsely accused Van Jones of being a "convicted felon ... who spent, I think, six months in prison after the Rodney King beating." As Eva Paterson, president and founder of the Equal Justice Society, has explained, "Van [Jones] has never served time in any prison. He has never been convicted of any crime." On August 11, Beck said (transcript from the Nexis database):
BECK: We've spent some time over here. There is so much more to cover, but I want to talk to you about the green movement root. I couldn't figure out why the green movement -- here is Van Jones. This is a convicted felon, a guy who spent, I think, six months in prison after the Rodney King beating.
He was a black nationalist. He came out an anarchist and a communist. He then found the green movement was the new red. And now, he's our green jobs czar. Why is there so much money from the green movement, fund for public interest?
Beck jumped on Breitbart story about organizers "pray[ing]" to Obama, but Breitbart later walked back that claim. As Media Matters for America noted, on September 29, Breitbart.tv -- published by Matt Drudge protégé Andrew Breitbart -- embedded a video with the headline, "Shock Discovery: Community Organizers Pray TO President-Elect Obama." During the September 29 edition of his radio program, Beck asked executive producer Steve "Stu" Burguiere to tell the show's webmaster, Chris Brady, to post the video "on the front page of GlennBeck.com" and to "make sure that it is also included in our email newsletter." At one point, Beck suggested that the video participants were "just mocking God by faking a prayer to Obama." But Breitbart.tv subsequently updated the original post about the video with an editor's note acknowledging that "there is a debate over what is actually being said" and that the crowd may, in fact, be saying "oh God" rather than "Obama." The Gamaliel Foundation subsequently stated that "at no time have we prayed to President Obama" and that in the video, the organizers "can be heard saying, 'Hear our cry oh God,' 'Deliver us oh God,' etc."
Beck claimed constitutional provision protecting slave trade applies to "immigrants." In a chapter in his new book purporting to explain to "idiots" what "our Founding Fathers really intended," Beck praises an obsolete provision of the U.S. Constitution that prohibited Congress from outlawing the slave trade before 1808 and capped taxes on the slave trade at $10 per slave. In his explanation of the provision, Beck does not mention slavery, saying instead that the provision means that the Founders apparently "felt like there was a value to being able to live here" and lamenting: "Not anymore. These days we can't ask anything of immigrants -- including that they abide by our laws."
Beck falsely claimed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Latif said "we were wrong" about global warming. On the September 22 broadcast of his radio show, Beck seized on a World Climate Conference presentation on short-term natural climate variability by Mojib Latif, a prominent climate modeler, to suggest that Latif has "backed out now and said, 'We were wrong' " about global warming. In fact, Latif asserted that contrary to common "media" misperceptions of global warming as a "monotonic process" in which "each year is warmer than the preceding year," there are significant natural climate variations within the decadal timescale that do not change the "long-term warming trend."
Beck claimed G-20 protesters in Pittsburgh recently carried a hammer and sickle symbol that actually came from a California school's "Class of 2007" mosaic. On the September 29 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck claimed that "[t]he very next day after the premiere" of Michael Moore's new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, "people were on the streets" of Pittsburgh protesting the G-20 summit "with this." Beck then aired an image of a hammer and sickle and read from the photo, "Oh, look at that -- 'Capitalism Will Fail' down there at the bottom." But the image Beck aired was not from the G-20 protests in Pittsburgh. Rather, as FoxNews.com reported on June 25, the image was of a "Class of 2007" mosaic painted by eighth-graders on tiles outside a Berkeley, California, school.
Zachary Pleat and Kate Conway contributed to this item.