I don’t trust Glenn Beck as far as I can throw him–and my back’s acting up right now.
The former Fox News Channel personality-turned-internet impresario appeared on the August 3 edition of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” to cry crocodile tears and beg for forgiveness from the American public. As the indispensable Oliver Willis of MediaMatters.org noted later that day:
“In an August 3 interview with host Brian Stelter labeled ‘the evolution of Glenn Beck,’ Beck appeared to discuss his network, The Blaze, and a move to a less political brand of talk, but Beck’s own comments in the interview and recent work show his act hasn’t really changed at all…
“In [one] segment of the interview with Stelter, Beck decried the harsh tone that has contributed to what he characterized as a ‘civil war’ atmosphere in America. Despite this posturing, his network recently aired a skit [that mocked] the epidemic of reported sexual assault on college campuses and claimed that it was ‘completely untrue.’ When he faced criticism for the skit, Beck said, ‘I stand by it … I double down on it.’
“Stelter did not bring up, nor did Beck mention, the ongoing litigation in which a man inaccurately described by Beck as a co-conspirator in the Boston Marathon bombing (a fact, Beck falsely alleged, that was being covered up by the government) is suing Beck for defamation in federal court.
“At one point in the interview, Beck mentioned that while he didn’t agree with Sen. Bernie Sanders on any issues, he could respect him because he did not shy away from labeling himself as a ‘socialist.’ But neither Beck nor Stelter mentioned that when Sanders was first elected to the Senate, Beck said that Vermont should be ‘vote[d] out of the union’ because Sanders won.”
Of course, during his tenure on CNN and Fox, Beck gained a reputation as perhaps the most vehement of climate-change deniers. Let’s take a look back at some of the lies Beck told over the years.
But first, let’s go back to the idiotic decision to give this ex-junkie shock jock a television forum in the first place.
As Media Matters reported in January 2006:
“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on January 17 that CNN’s Headline News has hired Glenn Beck — a nationally syndicated radio host known for making controversial statements — ‘for a new prime time program.’ Media Matters for America has compiled some of Beck’s more notable comments:
“On families of the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: ‘[T]his is horrible to say, and I wonder if I’m alone in this — you know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims’ families? Took me about a year.’
“On Hurricane Katrina survivors who remained in New Orleans: ‘And that’s all we’re hearing about, are the people in New Orleans. Those are the only ones that we’re seeing on television are the scumbags — and again, it’s not all the people in New Orleans. Most of the people in New Orleans got out! It’s just a small percentage of those who were left in New Orleans, or who decided to stay in New Orleans, and they’re getting all the attention.’
“Discussing disclosures from a caller who claimed to have tortured prisoners in U.S. custody: “I’ve got to tell you, I appreciate your service. … Good for you. Good for — I mean, good for you. Is it because you did it for the country? … I have to tell you, when all is said and done, I’m glad people like you are on our side.'”
Apparently, Beck’s first climate lie was broadcast on CNN on May 24, 2006. As Media Matters reported:
“On the May 24 edition of his CNN Headline News show, Glenn Beck appeared to question studies showing that global temperatures increased by 0.6 degrees Celsius during the 20th century by falsely claiming that annual temperatures in the United States have remained ‘pretty much flat.’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, who appeared with Beck on the program, agreed, stating ‘Well, yes, as far as we can tell.’ In fact, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has documented a rise in temperatures in the United States comparable to the global increase. Beck’s apparent doubt about whether human beings are responsible for global climate change is contradicted by the scientific consensus on the subject, as previously documented by Media Matters for America.
“Beck claimed on the May 24 program that ‘if you look, the Earth has gotten warmer now by .6 degrees Celsius,’ but the rise in surface temperatures ‘is much higher in other parts of the world’ than it has been in the United States, which is ‘one of the more accurate record keepers in the world.’ But several studies show comparable temperature changes in the United States and the world as a whole. A report released by the United States Global Change Program in 2000 documented a temperature change of 0.6 degrees Celsius in the United States in the 20th century, the same increase Beck cited as the global temperature change. The study added that ‘the coastal Northeast, the upper Midwest, the Southwest, and parts of Alaska have experienced increases in the annual average temperature approaching 4°F (2°C) in the 20th Century’ and that ‘average warming in the US is projected to be somewhat greater than for the world as a whole over the 21st century.’
“As Media Matters has noted, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Academy of Sciences have said that the Earth’s surface temperature has risen by approximately 0.6 degrees Celsius — or 1 degree Fahrenheit — in the 20th century, but these figures, by definition, do not include the years 2001 through 2005, which are five of the six warmest years on record, as the Climatic Research Unit noted in a December 2005 press release.”
In June 2006, Beck first compared Al Gore to Adolf Hitler. Media Matters reported:
“On the June 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck became the latest critic to compare An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary film about former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to raise awareness of global warming, to the Nazis. Beck dismissed many of the conclusions drawn from the documentary, stating, ‘[W]hen you take a little bit of truth and then you mix it with untruth, or your theory, that’s where you get people to believe. … It’s like Hitler. Hitler said a little bit of truth, and then he mixed in ‘and it’s the Jews’ fault.’ That’s where things get a little troublesome, and that’s exactly what’s happening’ in An Inconvenient Truth.”
The assault on science continued that fall. Media Matters noted that “On the September 21[, 2006] edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck cited two global-warming skeptics — William M. Gray and Bjørn Lomborg — to support his doubts that humans are ‘the ones causing’ global warming, and that ‘even if’ humans are causing global warming, there isn’t much they can ‘realistically do about it.’ But the methodology and results of studies by both Gray and Lomborg have been debunked by the overwhelming majority of environmental scientists, as Media Matters for America has documented.
“Beck began his segment on global warming by declaring: ‘Global warming is real. My issue is whether or not we’re the ones causing it, and, even if we are, what can you realistically do about it?’ As purported evidence that humans might not be ‘the ones causing’ global warming, Beck cited Gray, professor emeritus of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, whom Beck described as ‘a respected scientist.’ But as Media Matters for America has noted, a May 28 Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach reported that Gray’s methodology regarding climate change ‘is increasingly on the fringe’ and noted that even global warming skeptics have distanced themselves from Gray. Further, Beck claimed that the ‘best he [Gray] could do for a media platform … was a speech at the Larimer County Republican Club breakfast in front of about 50 people.’ In fact, in addition to the Washington Post Magazine, Gray was also mentioned as recently as September 20 on Fox News’ Special Report with Brit Hume and was quoted on CNN’s The Situation Room as recently as September 12.
“Later in the program, Beck hosted Lomborg, an associate professor of statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, to discuss how U.S. efforts to combat global warming demonstrate that, in Beck’s words, ‘our priorities are all mixed up.’ Lomborg stated that ‘[w]e actually had some of the world’s top economists’ look at how to handle global warming, and that they concluded it would be very costly and ‘do very little good.’ Lomborg similarly argued in his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, which purported to conduct a ‘non-partisan evaluation’ of environmental data in the hope of offering the public and policymakers a guide for ‘clear-headed prioritization of resources to tackle real, not imagined, problems,’ that the concerns of scientists regarding the world’s environmental problems — including global warming — were universally overblown. Yet as Media Matters documented, Scientific American magazine ran a series of articles from four well-known environmental specialists that lambasted Lomborg’s book for ‘egregious distortions,’ ‘elementary blunders of quantitative manipulation and presentation that no self-respecting statistician ought to commit,’ and sections ‘poorly researched and … rife with careless mistakes.’ The Union of Concerned Scientists similarly reported that Lomborg’s findings and methodology ‘fail to meet basic standards of credible scientific analysis.'”
After “An Inconvenient Truth” won a Best Documentary Oscar, Beck continued his attacks. As Media Matters observed, “On the April 5 [, 2007] edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck joined Chris Horner, counsel for the energy industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, in denouncing former Vice President Al Gore’s award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, with Horner saying the film is ‘pure science fiction.’ As evidence, Beck cited a New York Times article on global warming — which, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, includes misleading characterizations, a false comparison, and misrepresentations of Gore’s statements. Horner also claimed that, ‘in about a year, it’ll be almost 10 years since we’ve experienced any warming’ — an argument contradicted by NASA surface temperature analyses. He also asserted that Gore ‘has been saying, for nigh on five years, that we’ve got 10 years to live,’ a statement that Gore does not appear to have ever made.
“In introducing the segment, Beck stated: ‘Even The New York Times has said that Al Gore is writing checks that his research couldn’t cash. Usually, the only thing you find about Al Gore in The New York Times — love letters.’ Horner later echoed Beck’s claim, saying: ‘It took The New York Times about 15 months to pick up on the fact that his movie was pure science fiction before they found some scientists who were willing to say this.’ But as Media Matters noted, the March 13 Times article to which Horner and Beck were presumably referring included several misrepresentations of Gore’s position, including making a false comparison to suggest that Gore exaggerated a potential rise in sea levels…
“During the segment, Horner also claimed that ‘it’ll be almost 10 years since we’ve experienced any warming,’ and that ‘It hasn’t warmed since 1998.’ In fact, as Media Matters has noted, according to NASA, 1998 was a particularly warm year because ‘a strong El Nino, a warm water event in the eastern Pacific Ocean, added warmth to global temperatures.’ Despite the temperature spike that occurred in 1998, the Climatic Research Unit’s Global Temperature Record and a surface temperature analysis of 2006 by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) show a general warming trend since 1970. Moreover, a February 2007 NASA Earth Observatory news release states, ‘By the early 1980s, temperatures surpassed those of the 1940s and, despite ups and downs from year to year, they continued rising beyond the year 2000.’…
“During the show, Horner also stated that Gore ‘has been saying, for nigh on five years, that we’ve got 10 years to live, so, pretty soon … those chickens are going to come home to roost.’ In fact, Gore has asserted that, according to ‘leading scientists,’ such as NASA’s James Hansen, the climate may be reaching ‘a point of no return’ within the next 10 years. On the December 5, 2006, edition of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Gore said: ‘Some of the leading scientists are now saying we may have as little as 10 years before we cross a kind of point of no return, beyond which it’s much more difficult to save the habitability of the planet in the future.’ Media Matters could find no evidence that Gore has ever said that ‘we’ve got 10 years to live.'”
Beck’s rhetoric grew ever more repugnant. Media Mattters reported that “On the May 2 [, 2007] edition of CNN Newsroom, while previewing his [climate-denying] special, ‘Exposed: The Climate of Fear,’ CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck told host Don Lemon that he is doing the special because ‘the scientific consensus in Europe in the 1920s and ’30s was that eugenics was a good idea,’ adding: ‘I’m glad that a few people stood against eugenics.’ Those comments recall remarks Beck made on the April 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, in which he likened former Vice President Al Gore’s fight against global warming to Adolf Hitler’s use of eugenics as justification for exterminating 6 million European Jews. On that program, Beck stated: ‘Al Gore’s not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is [a] global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government.’
“Beck continued: ‘You got to have an enemy to fight. And when you have an enemy to fight, then you can unite the entire world behind you, and you seize power. That was Hitler’s plan. His enemy: the Jew. Al Gore’s enemy, the U.N.’s enemy: global warming.’ He added: ‘Then you get the scientists — eugenics. You get the scientists — global warming. Then you have to discredit the scientists who say, ‘That’s not right.’ And you must silence all dissenting voices. That’s what Hitler did.’”
Beck’s Nazi analogies were condemned by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, as well as Air America Radio’s Betsy Rosenberg—but where was the rest of the mainstream media?
In early-2009, Beck decamped for the Fox News Channel, where he continued his radical science-bashing, including an over-the-edge assault on the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
In mid-2009, Beck declared war on Van Jones, the White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, unleashing so much raw hatred that he effectively drove Jones out of his position.
Days after Van Jones left the White House, ThinkProgress.org reported on Beck’s, shall we say, special motivation to target Jones:
“…Fox News’ Glenn Beck engaged in a character assassination campaign to demonize White House environmental adviser Van Jones as ‘a committed revolutionary’ that led to Jones’ resignation over the weekend. The conventional wisdom was that Beck took aim at Jones because a group he co-founded, Color of Change, was successfully convincing advertisers to drop Beck’s show after he claimed President Obama had ‘a deep-seated hatred for white people.’ Though Beck’s attacks became ‘especially pronounced’ after the boycott started, he actually began his attacks against Jones before he even uttered the words that sparked the activist campaign against him.
“As Adele Stan and Joe Romm of [Think Progress] have [reported], on [September 6] Phil Kerpen, the policy director for the [Koch Industries front group] Americans for Prosperity, took credit for starting the assault on Jones. Kerpen wrote that on July 10, he e-mailed an old profile of Jones to a producer for Beck’s show [and encouraged Beck to go after Jones]. After that, Beck attacked Jones in 16 episodes of his Fox News show between July 23 and September 4, including five where he hosted Kerpen to help him…
“…Kerpen explained that his real mission is to put the ‘green jobs’ concept outside the bounds of the political mainstream.’ In [a] Sept. 7 podcast, Kerpen declared, ‘Van Jones is gone, but the ‘green jobs’ threat remains,’ adding that the right-wing should ‘channel all of the energy’ of Jones’ resignation towards ‘defeating the policy program that he stands for.’
“When Kerpen first contacted Beck about Jones, he said that it ‘confirms [the] ‘watermelon’ hypothesis,’ which Dave Weigel notes is the effort of conservatives ‘to paint environmental activists like Jones as anti-capitalist radicals less interested in the health of the planet than in a well-disguised radical agenda.’ In fact, on the June 26 episode of Beck’s show, Kerpen and Beck discussed the idea, saying that cap and trade ‘is green on the outside, the thinnest green on the outside. And inside, it’s deep communist red.’”
Beck continued to attack climate action and climate activists after he chased Jones out of his job, at one point feuding with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow over climate science.
Beck also openly boasted about his ties to billionaire climate-change denier Charles Koch on his program.
Beck left Fox News in mid-2011 to launch his own media empire, known as The Blaze, where he continues to attack climate science for the entertainment of his profoundly gullible audience. Well, you know what H. L. Mencken said…
Those of us concerned about the climate crisis don’t have media empires. We don’t have CNN and Fox at our beck and call. We don’t have the ability to chase people out of presidential administrations. What we do have, to use an old line by Senator Al Franken, is the truth…and the truth is that Glenn Beck will always be remembered as the man who indeed kept The Blaze going–the blaze of disinformation, the blaze of denial, and the blaze of degeneracy. Why listen to someone who wants our planet left in shambles? The only Glenn I want to listen to is Glen Campbell.
Thank you for listening.