Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tears of a Clown by Dana Milbank

It's likely, says Milbank, that evangelical Christians who watch him, “...have no idea that Beck is preaching to them nightly the theology of the Latter-day Saints.” (46)
He notes that Beck has mentioned several times that the “Constitution hangs by a thread.” Milbank says that this refers to a prophecy by Joseph Smith in 1840 that when the Constitution hangs by a thread the Mormon elders would step in and save the country.
Milbank suggests, “There are millions of Americans who fear their government, which usually makes them angry at their government. In Beck, they found somebody who will give voice to their paranoia.” (80)
Milbank does a great job of reviewing Beck's nasty attacks on individuals and then documenting the actual truth about the attacked person.
Beck is a master at implying, without really saying. In early 2009 he showed a picture of buildings and for a month implied that this showed a government run concentration camp. He paralleled this with statements about not being able to debunk claims that FEMA was building concentrations camps in Montana. Then he finally admitted that the photo was taken in North Korea. (184-186)
Milbank says of Beck, “Sometimes he posits falsehoods of no great import. Sometimes they are falsehoods that completely turn reality on its head. More often, Beck begins with a kernel of truth and then bakes the kernel into a casserole of bizarre suppositions. He then serves up a wildly implausible prediction – which by definition can't be disproved because it has not yet happened.” (188)
Sometimes Beck just gives false “facts,” and Milbank documents many. Frequently they are of little consequence but Milbank catches Beck in some huge ones. (Such as Beck saying of the TARP bailout in September of 2008, “...I think the bailout is the right thing to do.” Then, in April of 2009 saying, “...we were all against that!”) (192) I could go on and on with Milbank's examples of Beck misrepresenting or twisting facts, or just plain giving false ones. But you get the point, I think. Does he check his facts? As he said on The View when Walters asked him that, “No. No. I am a commentator.” (197)
It is not uncommon for Beck to utter exact opposites. On a radio broadcast in 2007, of Barack Obama, “”He's very white in many ways... He's very white.” “That same year he scolded Jesse Jackson: 'He says Barack Obama is acting white, which is an unbelievable racist statement.'” Then later, on Fox & Friends, “...[Obama] has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture...” (218-220) (Am I the only one shaking my head at people who actually watch his show?)
He is so concerned about our country's financial future, yet, “His business empire, according to Forbes, is worth $32 million a year...” (105)
If you are one of the 0.9 percent of Americans who watch his TV show (108), you'll hate this book. If you think Beck is an “entertainment genius” (166) who is manipulating Americans and laughing all the way to the bank, this book will confirm your opinion. If you are somewhat neutral toward Beck, read this book. It just may open your eyes.
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