Historical Fraudster a Regular on Glenn Beck’s Show


George Washington

George Washington to Glenn Beck: Please don’t spew “truth” on me.

Glenn Beck says progressives are trying to “fundamentally transform the country” by rendering the Constitution “irrelevant” (“In 1920, they stopped studying the Constitution in law school and started studying case law!”), and by expunging from history the role “religion and morals” played in our founding.

On his April 28 show, Beck announced the launch of Founders Fridays segment, a special feature by which Beck intends to counter these progressive lies with…the truth:

Every Friday is going to be Founders’ Fridays on the program, at least for the next month. And if nobody watches, well, then, we’ll keep doing it anyway. We are going to try to repair some of the damage that is being done by truth. Truth. Truth is like fire. It will burn. It will burn everything that is impure. It will set on fire all lies. But it will not consume the truth. So we’ll set a few fires by spewing the truth.

Don’t think that Beck will have to do all this truth-spewing and fire-setting by himself; he’ll have help from guests who “have history”:

We’re going to have some people in here who have history, who know the Founders better than anybody else on Earth. One of the guys who’s going to be joining us for some of these is David Barton, author of Original Intent and founder of Wall Builders, an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes.

In “The Right’s Library of Fake Quotes,” Extra! (4/10) documents many instances where conservatives have promoted fabricated historical quotes, religious and otherwise:

One of the most prolific purveyors of bogus founder quotes is Christian theocrat David Barton. Though not a household name, Barton’s tireless efforts to construct a Christian origin story for the United States have been praised by the likes of Pat Robertson and Newt Gingrich (Church & State, 7-8/96). His 1989 book The Myth of Separation attributed bogus quotes to Washington (”It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible”), Jefferson (“I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens”) and Patrick Henry (“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ”). Barton has also misattributed the “Ten Commandments” quote to Madison.

In 1996 Barton admitted that these and nine other quotes he’d been circulating in his writings, videotapes and live appearances were either false or unverifiable (Church & State, 7-8/96). But Barton’s reputation suffered little from the fraud, according to Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church & State. “He’s doing better than ever,” Boston told Extra!, noting that since 1996 Barton has served as vice-chair of the Texas GOP, and now sits on the Texas state committee advising the state’s board of education on history and social studies curriculum, “despite no history credentials.”

But Barton is no stranger to the show, having appeared several times with Beck in the recent past (e.g. 4/30/10, 4/8/10, 3/15/10.) And Barton has apparently had a real impact on Beck, who repeated one of the spurious George Washington quotes he is famous for promoting on his March 5 show: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Beck and Barton should thank God that truth doesn’t really burn lies.

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.