CNN’s Headline News has hired radio talkshow host Glenn Beck to host a one-hour primetime show, according to a Daily Variety report (1/17/06). Variety quotes CNN Headline News president Ken Jautz's description of Beck: "Glenn’s style is self-deprecating, cordial; he says he'd like to be able to disagree with guests and part as friends. It's conversational, not confrontational."
But Glenn Beck’s hateful rhetoric tells a different story.
Beck, best known for setting up Clear Channel's pro-war Rallies for America shortly before the Iraq War, once described how much he loathed anti-war presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (WABC-AM, 3/16/03): "Every night I get down on my knees and pray that Dennis Kucinich will burst into flames."
In 2004, Beck called Michael Berg, whose son had been beheaded in Iraq, "despicable" and a "scumbag" because the elder Berg criticized George W. Bush in the wake of his son’s death (Mediamatters.org, 5/17/04).
On May 17, 2005, Beck fantasized about murdering anti-war filmmaker Michael Moore (Mediamatters.org, 5/18/05):
Beck also accused Moore of "taking help and money from Hezbollah."
He wasn’t much more charitable to victims of Hurricane Katrina, some of whom he called "scumbags." On September 9, Beck said that Katrina victims caused a "near riot" when ATM cards were distributed to the displaced (Mediamatters.org, 9/9/05):
In the same broadcast, he explained his animus against the relatives of September 11 victims (while maintaining that "of the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them. Probably about 10 of them"): "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up!' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them."
The strategy of out-Foxing Fox by signing up incendiary right-wing talkshow hosts is a dangerous one, as MSNBC found when it gave a show to hate-radio star Michael Savage and had to let him go when it turned out that his TV persona spouted the same vitriol featured on his radio show (FAIR Action Alert, 7/7/03). Headline News executives may put Glenn Beck on the air in spite of his hateful baggage, but they shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t turn out to be the "cordial" and tolerant host they are touting.
ACTION: Contact Ken Jautz and ask him to explain his characterization of Beck as "cordial." Ask him if CNN Headline News supports the hateful and violent commentary Beck is known for.
President, CNN Headline News