Good Riddance To Glenn Beck
Why should conservatives - and all across the political spectrum - applaud Fox’s recent decision to discontinue Glenn Beck’s show on its news channel? After all, when Glenn Beck first appeared on Fox News to host his show in January 2009, right in the midst of the greatest economic crash since the Great Depression, his forecasts of doom and angry pessimism were able to attract some 3 million viewers a night.
His influence has subsequently become apparent as his reports led to the resignation of Van Jones, the White House’s former ‘green jobs’ adviser, in September 2009, and tens of thousands attended a rally he organized with Sarah Palin at the Lincoln Memorial in August 2010.
Nonetheless, two reasons come to mind that seal the case against Beck:
Promoting conspiracy theories: In contrast to Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, who stick to reality when commenting on the Obama administration (even if one does not generally agree with their analyses and interpretations), Beck has had a tendency to advance ridiculous conspiracy theories that defy the facts. For instance, on one showing of Fox and Friends, Beck warned that the Obama administration is guiding the United States in the direction of “a country heading towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest dreams. ..If you have any kind of fear that we might be heading towards a totalitarian state: look out. Buckle up.” Such rhetoric has by no means been exceptional on Beck’s program. As David Frum points out, Beck has offered on a daily basis “alternative knowledge” that goes completely against reality, forming a “closed information system.”
Though corporate profits increase dramatically, Beck asserts that the free-market is under assault at the hands of socialism. While prices slump, he warns of imminent hyperinflation. As African-Americans suffer from Depression-level unemployment owing to the recession, he has the temerity to smear Obama and his government for supposedly harboring a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” In the meantime, he attributes the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to a Leftist-Muslim conspiracy aiming to establish a global caliphate. Once Beck’s penchant for conspiracies is taken into account, the reason why he attracted so many viewers in the middle of the economic crisis becomes evident.
Dalliances with anti-Semitism: It is lamentable that even incisive analysts such as Dr. Daniel Pipes have appeared on Beck’s show, whilst remaining completely unaware of Beck’s affection for certain anti-Semites who share his tendencies to rely on conspiracy theories. Incidentally, none of this settles well with Beck’s declared support for Israel, but anti-Semitism frequently goes hand in hand with a conspiratorial mindset. Of course, there are many other cases of anti-Semitic groups and individuals such as the British National Party (BNP) and Srdja Trifkovic, who have no trouble in proclaiming themselves to be pro-Israel. In June 2010, Beck promoted on air the work of a Nazi sympathizer by the name of Elizabeth Dilling, who, in writings that Beck neglected to mention, derided Eisenhower as “Ike the kike” and Kennedy’s New Frontier as the “Jew Frontier.”
A few days later, Beck discussed George Soros’ Jewish ancestry, accused him of currency manipulation and mocked him for “disturbing hair in his nose,” besides claiming that Soros was a Nazi collaborator. More recently, Beck devoted an entire show around two weeks ago to a conspiracy theory on bankers such as the Rothschilds and the creation of the Federal Reserve. To promote his argument, he hosted the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin, who not only believes that “present-day political Zionists are promoting the New World Order,” but also that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion “accurately describe much of what is happening in our world today.”
At the same time, it is disheartening to see the number of conservatives who have defended Beck by employing the fallacious tu quoque argument, whenever moderate commentators such as Jennifer Rubin have exposed Beck’s extremism. As Rubin herself puts it, the argument in defense of Beck essentially boils down to “the left is worse.” This is simply not a valid line of reasoning to justify his conduct.
Conservatives need to give Fox credit for finally deciding to put an end to giving Beck any sort of respectable outlet for broadcasting his deranged opinions, despite the window-dressing in the joint statement with Beck’s production company that there will still be cooperation “to develop and produce a variety of television projects.” We can now be confident that Beck, a voice who has only served to tar and discredit the reputation of the American right as a whole, will be confined to the fringes of political discourse where he rightly belongs.
Aymenn Jawad is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist