Glenn Beck, Fox and the Art of Character Assassination
Millions hang on Glenn Beck’s words of wisdom on Fox News. Rupert Murdoch gives him free rein while myriad sponsors don’t allow their advertisements to air when he spews his false and bizarre messages. In comparison, Bill O’Reilly seems almost “fair and balanced.”
Beck now hawks the “9/12 Project,” which spreads his repugnant John Birch Society views through the Internet. The “project” expounds nine rather obvious principles and 12 hard-to-argue-with values — a simplistic Boy Scouts oath approach to political discourse.
Christopher Hitchens calls Beck’s promotion of W. Cleon Skousen’s book “The Five Thousand Year Leap” (Beck wrote the foreword) “the canalizing of old racist toxic waste that a healthy society had flushed out of its system more than a generation ago.” Hitchens decries Beck’s “persistent fear mongering, and his repeated suggestion to those willing to believe of a socialist (or Nazi, or Jew-controlled — take your pick) dictatorship.”
Beck said of President Obama’s proposed Peace Corps expansion, “This is what Hitler did with the SS.” Beck absurdly teaches that “fascism and communism are the same” and admits, “Sometimes it’s hard to tell Hitler and Marx apart.” And that’s probably because to Beck’s devoted followers, both now reside at the White House.
My beef with Beck is not with his obvious promotional skills (he rakes in $35 million a year from various ventures), but with his disdain for truth and his distortion of history for profit.
His persistent character assassination of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson, is reprehensible. Beck said recently, “I mean, I got to tell you, two years ago, I knew nothing of Woodrow Wilson.” Beck bases his flawed understanding of Wilson on conservative historian Ronald J. Pestritto’s writings.
Nobel laureate Wilson was an acknowledged intellectual, the first president with a Ph.D., a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a historian with a law degree. Beck calls Wilson a liberal/progressive, but he was actually a socially conservative Southerner, a Democrat who’d served as governor of New Jersey following his presidency of Princeton University. He was America’s leading constitutional law authority. The seriously under-educated Beck obviously finds such credentials daunting and prefers to brand them elitist and subversive.
New Jersey’s reform governor, Wilson was elected when Teddy Roosevelt, running on the Bull Moose ticket, and Republican William Howard Taft split the 1912 conservative vote. Beck, who loudly proclaims America a “Christian nation,” might be surprised to learn that Wilson (a devout Presbyterian pastor’s son) proudly proclaimed that “America was born a Christian nation.”
Beck wrongly blames Wilson for the 16th Amendment (income tax). Republican President Taft proposed it. And when the new taxes arrived in 1913, Wilson used them to replace tariff revenues, not for social programs as Beck suggests.
Wilson, who wrote, “The history of liberty is a history of limitation of government power, not the increase of it,” is repeatedly called a socialist by Beck. Wilson actually hated communism. Under his leadership, U.S. troops fought Russia’s nascent Bolshevik regime. At Versailles, his proposed League of Nations was accepted by most of the warring parties but rejected by a spiteful Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
Having exhausted himself physically and mentally fighting for the League, he suffered a stroke and, like the doughboys he sent to France, became another of that horrific war’s victims.
Beck claims Adolf Hitler got his eugenics theories from Wilson, who like most Southerners of his era had reactionary racial views. Wilson supported Jim Crow, the then-governing principle of Southern Democrats, whose support he needed. Wilson, who appointed Louis Brandeis, a brilliant Jew, to the Supreme Court, hardly motivated Hitler’s hated racial ideology that was inspired by European anti-Semites.
Beck attacks Wilson’s reputation repeatedly and even peddles sophomoric “I Hate Woodrow Wilson” T-shirts. (Originally $26, now $10 on the Internet.) President Wilson’s memory deserves far more respect. Historians judge him one of our greatest presidents, a patriot who gave his all for America.
Wilson sagely wrote in “Constitutional Government in the United States,” perhaps in anticipation of a future Glenn Beck, that “The wisest thing to do with a fool is to encourage him to hire a hall and discourse to his fellow citizens. Nothing chills nonsense like exposure to the air.”
Paul R. Dunn is co-author of “Great Donald Ross Golf Courses You Can Play” and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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