Glenn Beck’s Factchecking Machine

From David Carr‘s piece on Glenn Beck in the New York Times today (3/7/11):

“When I first came here,” he told his audience on Wednesday, “I had this pie-in-the-sky belief that if I told you the truth, if I verified all of my facts and double-checked, and we could make that compelling case with facts to back it up, the journalists in other places would get curious and they’d use their resources and they’d investigate and they’d prove it right and they’d show it too.” Then he shook his head and laughed bitterly.

There’s nothing to say about that, really. Everyone should read James Wolcott’s wonderful piece in the new Vanity Fair on the cable news culture of the moment. On Beck:

Even in a clown era, Beck is an unlikely crusade leader. Round and beige, he resembles one of the squeamish pod sperm awaiting launch instructions upstream in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex. Like radio god Rush Limbaugh, Beck combines the roles of pedagogue and demagogue into a single luncheon meat, slathered in blather. But where Limbaugh stays on track in the radio studio, taking a single theme and pounding it flat, Beck is a grab-bag collage artist of half-baked ideas and lore, grafting bits of history and chunks of speculation into a clanking Frankenstein monster with Barack Obama’s face sewn onto Karl Marx’s head and one arm raised in permanent Nazi salute–“liberal Fascism” as an evil action figure.

As Wolcott goes on to argue, the fact that Beck’s rhetoric doesn’t make sense is precisely the point: “Incoherence isn’t a bug in Beck’s software program, it’s the primary directive.”

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.