The New York Times (12/4/06), profiling new CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck, called him “brash” and “opinionated,” with an “unfiltered approach.” The conservative talk-radio host-turned-cable news announcer, the paper reported, “take[s] credit for saying what others are feeling but are afraid to say.”
The Times mentioned one of the things Beck has said recently, to newly elected U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim: “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” But as press critic Eric Alterman pointed out (Altercation, 12/4/06), as offensive as that question is, it doesn’t begin to suggest the poisonousness of Beck’s rhetoric about Muslims.
On his August 10 radio show, distributed by Clear Channel‘s Premiere Radio Networks, Beck told listeners, “The world is on the brink of World War III,” then issued this warning:
On September 5, Beck took the same message to his CNN Headline News audience, declaring, “In 10 years, Muslims and Arabs will be looking through a razor wire fence at the West.” He explained:
Beck went on to say:
When Beck is talking about “razor wire,” he’s talking about concentration camps—in the original sense of the word, places where masses of people are imprisoned “just based on the way you look or just based on your religion.” Despite his (perfectly accurate) observation that such camps are “Nazi, World War II wrong,” comparable to the “absolutely disgraceful” wartime internment of Japanese-Americans, Beck is clearly using the threat of such camps to coerce Muslims into behavior he approves of, like volunteering “to shoot the bad Muslims in the head.”
Since the overwhelming majority of U.S. Muslims are neither “murdering innocent people” nor “excusing the people who do,” there’s really nothing that they can do to avert Beck’s threat that “the razor wire will be coming.” And Beck is explicit that there’s nothing non-Muslims can do to avoid locking Muslims up en masse.
The New York Times, in its profile about Beck, refers to his criticism of the animated film Happy Feet, but fails to mention that he uses his Headline News slot to issue threats that he himself compares to Nazi behavior. For the Times, CNN‘s decision to give Beck a TV show is a “success,” because he “has increased the ratings in his 7 p.m. time period 60 percent among all viewers, and 84 percent among viewers aged 25 to 54.”
The Times article quoted CNN executive Kenneth Jautz as saying that the network did not take Beck’s politics into account when it hired him. “We did not set out to have anyone from any particular view fronting these shows,” he said. In fact, CNN hired Beck knowing that the host’s repertoire included hateful attacks–the Hurricane Katrina refugees seen on TV and the father of a terrorism victim were both “scumbags” (Mediamatters.org, 5/17/04, 9/9/05)–as well as a disturbing preoccupation with violence: Beck has told his listeners that he was praying for a gruesome death for Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (3/16/03), and that he was fantasizing about strangling filmmaker Michael Moore to death (5/17/05). As FAIR predicted (FAIR Action Alert, 1/18/06), Beck has not changed his repellent tune simply because he’s been hired by a major media outlet.
Contrary to Beck’s suggestion, there are things that the people of the U.S. can do to avoid repeating the “grotesque” history of Japanese-American internment. One of these things is to take people seriously when they start threatening people with concentration camps—rather than looking the other way because of their ratings “success.”
ACTION: Please contact CNN/U.S. president Jonathan Klein and urge him to condemn Glenn Beck’s chilling threats against Muslims.