Media Matters for America has named Glenn Beck the 2009 misinformer of the year. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fear monger. This charlatan is a danger in ways that we don’t even seem to realize. Beck has been whipping people into a frenzy based upon nothing but sheer speculation, deliberate distortions, and childish association games. He has proven what a conman with a flare for showmanship can truly do. He is the right wing’s own Professor Harold Hill.

My favorite musical of all time is The Music Man. If you’ve not seen this most charming gem then I would encourage you to go rent it the next time you’re making it a “Blockbuster night.” It’s about a con man who makes his living stirring up people’s emotions by painting a picture of disaster and horror that will be the result of some new thing in their small town, and the solution to this new danger is always the item he is selling. The musical ends with him having a change of heart about swindling people after he finds that he’s fallen for a local librarian who’s sharp observations have figured out exactly what his game is.

The character in the film, as potrayed by Robert Preston, is a delighfully entertaining and sympathetic figure. This is in stark contrast to Glenn Beck who is neither delightful nor sympathetic, but the reality is that Beck has been playing the same game as the main character in The Music Man. Nevertheless, the reality of the two figures is the same. As Media Matters puts it:

Glenn Beck’s well of ridiculous was deep and poisonous before he launched his Fox News show, but the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States — and the permissive cheerleading of his Fox News honchos — uncorked the former Morning Zoo shock jock’s unique brand of vitriol, stage theatrics, and hyperbolic fright, making him an easy choice for Media Matters’ 2009 Misinformer of the Year.

When he wasn’t calling the president a racist, portraying progressive leaders as vampires who can only be stopped by “driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers,” or pushing the legitimacy of seceding from the country, Beck obsessively compared Democrats in Washington to Nazis and fascists and “the early days of Adolf Hitler.” He wondered, “Is this where we’re headed,” while showing images of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin; decoded the secret language of Marxists; and compared the government to “heroin pushers” who were “using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state.”

The reality is that Beck has been looked upon by the left as ridiculously eccentric, but the reality is by far more serious. Many of us watch this con artist with bemused smirks and roll our eyes. The average viewer of Beck’s program often buys into his routine hook, line, and sinker. In fact the right wing views any of us who look upon Beck as a joke look upon us with the same attitude for exactly the same reasons. Jonah Goldberg’s cheer leading is a prime example:

[M]uch of the anti-Beck backlash (He’s an extremist! He’s paranoid! He’s hate-filled!) from the left is hard to take seriously. First, this is a crowd that lets Michael Moore and Janeane Garofalo speak for them, and that celebrated the election of unfunny man Al Franken to the Senate. If you think it’s racist to oppose Obama’s health care reform efforts, it goes without saying that you’ll think Beck is an extremist. This is what liberals always say about popular right-wingers, including Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley. For over 20 years liberals, including Presidents Clinton and Obama, have insisted that Rush Limbaugh is everything from an unpatriotic hatemonger to an enabler of domestic terrorism. It makes sense that they’d give Beck the same business.

You may be wondering if Beck is the “Music Man” then what is this Pied Piper of Hamelin selling? It seems the money is in using his influence to start a gold rush. Ironically, FOX News doesn’t seem to approve of this. As DailyFinance puts it:

Like other news organizations, Fox News prohibits its on-air personalities from making paid product endorsements. But it makes an exception for its commentators who are also radio hosts, who are allowed to perform live reads, says Joel Cheatwood, senior vice president for development.

“When we hired Glenn at Fox News, we hired him with the understanding that he had a well-established, burgeoning radio business, and we had to be accepting of certain elements of that,” Cheatwood tells DailyFinance, noting that Beck’s relationship with Goldline dates back to his time at HLN, CNN’s sister network.

The same understanding applies to Don Imus, who recently started simulcasting his radio show on Fox Business Network. (An MSNBC spokesman says his network has a similar policy in place, while a spokeswoman for CNN said only, “CNN/US anchors and correspondents are prohibited from participating in any paid endorsements of products and services.”)

But the exemption is meant only to apply to live reads, not to the kind of broader spokesmanship Beck, to all appearances, provides Goldline. In particular, Beck’s ubiquity on the Goldline website is not in keeping with Fox’s rules. A Fox spokeswoman said the network’s legal department is taking up the matter with Beck’s agent, George Hiltzik.

So what, if anything, has FOX News done to address this issue? Politico answers that question.

Beck endorses Goldline International, but last week, Fox requested that he clarify his relationship with the firm, prompting it to tweak its trumpeting of Beck’s endorsement. Goldline removed an identification of Beck as a “paid spokesman” from its website, but left the rest of the site – which prominently features his endorsement, photo and a radio interview he did with the company’s president Mark Albarian – intact.

Removal of the “paid spokesman” language from Goldline’s site brought his arrangement with the company in line with a network policy prohibiting “on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson,” according to Joel Cheatwood, a Fox News executive.

“We asked for clarification. We got it. We’re satisfied. It’s a dead issue,” he told POLITICO.

On Thursday, the network also indicated it would ask Rosland Capital, another gold retailer, to remove from its website the logo for Bill O’Reilly’s Fox show, the O’Reilly Factor, which Rosland features along with an audio clip of O’Reilly urging listeners to buy gold because “The U.S. Dollar is under attack!”

Fox’s concern was that O’Reilly’s endorsement of Rosland was specific to the radio show he no longer does, and Rosland is not a sponsor of his television show.

Rosland spokesman Steve Getzug said the company had not heard from Fox but was already “in the process of pulling the reference down as part of an overall update of Rosland’s website.” He called the O’Reilly endorsement “dated” and said “it’s been a while since the company has updated its website.”

Beck’s critics have not suggested that he was actually influencing the price of gold, which had been rising steadily until this month, by encouraging his fans to buy coins from Goldline.

But some financial analysts and precious metals experts did tell POLITICO that potential gold investors would be wise to look into bullion or exchange traded funds intended to track the price of gold, rather than the coins sold by Goldline and a handful of other firms that advertise on Beck’s shows and those of other conservative talkers. That’s because those firms focus on collectible or antique coins, which they sell for many times the value of the intrinsic gold and promote as being exempt from a potential government seizure of gold like that which occurred under Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. Beck has suggested that gold coins are a good buy now because President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are steering the economy towards disaster.

And that feedback loop – Beck stoking fear of economic collapse, hyping gold as a hedge against collapse, and endorsing a company selling gold – prompted liberals from the watchdog group Media Matters to MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to Comedy Central’s faux-news hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart to allege a glaring conflict of interest.

It’s also intersting to note how many other right wing radio show hosts endorse gold too. Consider this other article from Politico:

For years a certain strain of conservative thought has held that there was one sure hedge against economic depression, civil disorder and liberal rule – gold. Now that belief has led to a kind of harmonic convergence between ideology and commerce.

Anyone tuning in to conservative talk radio or Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck shows is bombarded by commercials for gold, mainly in the form of collectible coins, with announcers intoning that inflation and deficits caused by big government spending are devaluing the dollar and making gold the best investment money can buy.

The dire tone sounded in the ads often echo the occasionally apocalyptic economic forecasts of the shows’ hosts, many of whom have endorsement contracts with the gold retailers, appear in their ads, or have had their executives as guests to trash the economic course set by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, and to preach the attractions of gold.

“There’s a natural synergy between conservative talk radio listeners and gold,” said Michael Smerconish, a Philadelphia-based conservative-leaning talk show host who signed a deal to endorse Goldline International, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based retailer when his show entered syndication in January.

And it’s become an increasingly profitable synergy for everyone involved – the retailers, the networks and an array of hosts including O’Reilly and Beck, as well as radio talkers Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller, Fred Thompson and G. Gordon Liddy.

This year, Goldline boasted it had become “the exclusive gold and precious metals company” of both Levin’s show and the one hosted by Thompson. Other Goldline endorsers include Beck, Ingraham, Miller and Lars Larson.

It would seem that Glenn Beck has indeed followed the path of Professor Harold Hill. However, instead of playing the nickel-and-dime games of selling instruments for boy’s band, Glenn Beck has struck gold! It makes me wonder what other advertisers are benefiting from the fear mongering we see on the right wing. How many other cons are the being sold to viewers of FOX News and listeners of right wing radio? Are they really crazy? Like a FOX!

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FrankenPC
Member

It’s clear to me the country went downhill as soon as the indigenous morons learned how to change channels on the TV. It’s getting worse. They now understand how to type and use the comment sections of blogs.

What’s next? Actual reading comprehension? Why is no one putting a stop to this madness!!?

Hopeington
Member
Hopeington

How are we going to put a stop to this madness is my question.
I’ve never seen anything like this. It was the media that put an end to McCarthyism, but the media is in cahoots with these guys. We need more political figures like Massa, that are tired of “getting kicked in the shins”.
We will need a massive push back campaign for 2010.

whatsthatsound
Member

My friends we got trouble, right here in (sob! I love my country!!) America,
with a capital P and that rhymes with G and that stands for GOOOLLLDDD!
Yes, we got trouble, with President Obama,
so take all your money out of banks and go and buy some GOOOOOLLLLLDDDD!!!
(phone lines are open!)

Emerald1943
Member

LOL! Operators are standing by to take your order!! 🙂

PatsyT
Member

Sher, Great topic & info.
How soon they forget.
This American Experience series explains so much of what is happening today.
If you have not seen it, check it out….
Especially 1929
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/collection/1930s/

Pepe Lepew
Member

Dammit, this didn’t go where I expected it to…

Patsy T, thank yee (Gunslinger talk)

But, my daughter claims she has already outgrown CS Lewis and Lemony Snicket (In fact, she is attempting to plough her way through “Lord of the Rings”)

Pepe Lepew
Member

OT, but I heard Rush Limbaugh just had some kind of massive heart attack.

bito
Member
boomer1949
Member

Oh dear, should we join hands and pray? 🙂

bito
Member

Why is he in a “foreign country” the same time the President is?

bito
Member
boomer1949
Member

He has a Passport and Visa?

bito
Member

Did he even have that when he was elected President? He can’t even produce his birth certificate!
how can he get a visa? 🙂

boomer1949
Member

bito,

I was referring to RL 🙂 But I get it nonetheless…heh, heh.

abby4ever
Guest

I suppose those of us who pray ought to pray for him…what to say, though, that’s the thing.

nellie
Member

talk about a test of our better natures….

escribacat
Member

LOL. Stated with pure graciousness, nellie!

Pepe Lepew
Member

No shit.

PatsyT
Member
escribacat
Member

*never mind*

choicelady
Member

Apparently, and recent (28minutes ago) reports say it’s serious.

I am serious, too, when I say the uber right will find some conspiracy against Rush involving Obama that “caused” this. Rush’s horrible way of life and eating, drinking, and drug habits of course had nothing to do with it. “Personal responsibility” can be overlooked when you can blame everything on the president, right?

PatsyT
Member

Hi Choice,
You make a good point. I have been reading some of the news groups threads.
Talk about a double standard, no mention of RL personal responsibility anywhere from the righties.

abby4ever
Guest

choice lady: I get your point, but it would take a real squirrel to openly accuse the President of causing Rush’s heart attack.

I can’t see even an uber right-winger attempting anything like this; he would be laughed out, if not run out, of politics.

javaz
Member

Latest reports say that he is resting comfortably.
I wish him well and hope he recovers soon.
I hope he sees the light of reason and truth.

abby4ever
Guest

Going on your description of this Glenn Beck (I’ve never seen his show), he sounds like he is most definitely a man on a mission. Possibly even demon-possessed.

But the photo of him! Why do so many right-wingers always look so clean-cut, clean-shaven, clean everything? As if they just came off a farm or out of a college classroom, or just emerged from a Southern Baptist prayer meeting (a really long one and where they did all the praying)?

Is it purely for camouflage purposes?

boomer1949
Member

abby,

I’m not sure how old the photo is, but I haven’t seen him look so squeeky clean in a long time. If anything, he is looks more disheveled and radical.

btw – glad you liked the tuna commercial 🙂

abby4ever
Guest

Don’t start on the Chuckie the Tuna thing or you will have me rolling on the ground all over again!

LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!

It just kills me, I don’t know why. Perhaps it isn’t Chuckie at all, perhaps I’m in the throes of some kind of nervous breakdown…

boomer1949
Member

nah, you must not like tuna 🙂

Pepe Lepew
Member

Tiger99 says:
12/30/2009 at 4:14 PM

I didn

boomer1949
Member

How old is your daughter? It’s recommended for 16+, so if she isn’t, then you should think about telling her no and why so.

Pepe Lepew
Member

She’s 9.

She is very hard to say no to because she’s a “grown up.”

boomer1949
Member

Maybe in her 9 year old mind, but you’re the Dad. Dads have special powers and “no” is one of the more important ones. 🙂

Pepe Lepew
Member

If it only were so simple! 😀

PatsyT
Member

Have you tried Harry Potter?

Pepe Lepew
Member

Not grim enough!

She DEMANDS grim!

Papa skunk is very, very, VERY powerful, but he has limits.

PatsyT
Member

Narnia Series
-C.S. Lewis

Series of Unfortunate Events
-Lemony Snicket

Great and Terrible Beauty
(very goods books you will like them too)
-Libba Bray

Gilda Joyce Psychic Investigator
-Jennifer Allison
(my 11 year old recomends this one)

Good Luck !

Pepe Lepew
Member

Patsy T, thank yee (Gunslinger talk)

But, my daughter says she has already outgrown CS Lewis and Lemony Snicket … but I have never heard of “Great and Terrible Beauty.” I will have to check it out. 😀

PatsyT
Member

Hey Pepe,
All my girls loved G&T Beauty!
http://www.libbabray.com/

javaz
Member

The ratings are in and Fox has had the largest viewing audience this past year since it’s been on the air.
O’Reilly, Hannity and Beck are the top 3 and most watched shows –

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/ynews_ts1043

Emerald1943
Member

This makes me wonder how Murdoch manages to get FOX on every cable network while MSNBC is not available in many places. If the playing field were level, I wonder if the numbers would be the same.

PatsyT
Member

Fox comes free with a lot of cable packages.

escribacat
Member

Patsy, that is true. My brother lives in a small town and he only gets Fox on his cable — no CNN or MSNBC. I’ve heard that from a lot of other people too.

PatsyT
Member

What if they had to pay for it?
and got MSNBC or CNN for free?

escribacat
Member

I’m guessing those amazing numbers would be different.

PatsyT
Member

I guessing you are correct !

choicelady
Member

I travel a lot, and that means TV in motel and hotel rooms. I am horrified how much crap is provided by those facilities – minus MSNBC and often even CNN. I can get all the FOX-related stations, sub stations, reruns, etc. but not things I really want. It’s creepier when it’s listed but you can’t get it, when it’s there, but it’s such poor quality you can’t watch it – and all the FOX stuff comes in crystal clear. Since I’m all over the state of CA and often in other states, and it’s so similar an experience, I have to think there is a reason for it. Any guesses anyone?

choicelady
Member

Oh – HAVE to tell you a funny/not funny story. Some years ago in upstate NY, a friend of mine decided to get cable. She asked, though, that she NOT get the all-religion channel which she loathed. When she got home after the cable guy was there – the religion channel was ALL she got on every single outlet. Guess she peeved someone, hmmm? It got fixed, but the perp was never discovered – whether it was the installer, the main office, some wacko. So beware your wishes. Those people mean business!

abby4ever
Guest

Forgive the ot post everyone…Ad Lib, you have a little mail.

abby

Khirad
Member

This following movie and State of the Union make someone my age, more than history books, realize that however much things have changed, they’ve also stayed the same in some regards.

Edit – in case anyone missed Jon and Stephen on the gold angle:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-10-2009/beck—not-so-mellow-gold

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/258566/december-15-2009/prescott-financial-sells-gold–women—sheep

I love the Mad Men guy cameo, it helped my withdrawal a bit.

Emerald1943
Member

Hey Khirad, you really didn’t miss much. Typical baiting tactic. Nothing special.

boomer1949
Member

Scher,

Please email? [email protected]

Thanks!

Khirad
Member

Don’t know if anyone’s seen this photo:

http://www.goskagit.com/blogs/article/meet_the_mount_vernon_glenn_beck/

And, lest ye malign the whole city:

http://skagitagainsthate.org/

Edit: do people nationwide know Lars Larson, aside from his appearances on TV? I feel dirty knowing that he now lives where I grew up and lived most my life. Lord, him in my hometown, Beck from my dad’s…

abby4ever
Guest

Ok.

By the way, Scher: in addressing only the Hillary-Palin poll in my reply to your article, it may have seemed as if I was giving your (wonderful) article short shrift. Not so. I just know next to nothing about the topic.

But I don’t have to know anything about it to say this much: some people around here can sure write. I.e. inform and engage in a most compelling way. And one of them is you.

:] frown gone now

Emerald1943
Member

I’d like to co-sign your remark about the Scher’s writing! That is, if you don’t mind! 🙂

Emerald1943
Member

This comment was in response to Abby’s post below. I don’t know how it ended up here! Sorry!