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Glenn Beck Disguises His Witch Hunt Against Robert McChesney and Free Press As A Crusade For Free Speech

Reported by Ellen - October 8, 2009 -

Right wing media personalities seem to have a propensity for playing the victim at the same time that they engage in aggressive hostility, themselves. Just as Sean Hannity whined about being attacked while pursuing an overt campaign to get Obama advisor Kevin Jennings fired, so did Glenn Beck pose as a crusader for free speech while using the words of his latest targets as weapons in his own most recent witch hunt. Last night’s (10/7/09) subjects: Robert McChesney and Free Press, plus a dollop of attacks on another fave target, Mark Lloyd. With video.

Beck began his attack, with his sincere, earnest persona, talking about the importance of free speech. “If we cannot speak freely to each other, we lose the essence of who we are. Remember that.” Probably, what Beck meant was that he needed to speak freely so that he could smear and attack without repercussions. Because everyone else seems to be subject to Beck’s hammy hate mongering.

Maybe Beck was just feeling sorry for himself for losing 19 more advertisers. Whatever the reason, no sooner had he lauded the value of free speech than he began attacking others’. First, Beck lit into Obama’s “FCC divserity czar,” Mark Lloyd for saying that there was an “incredible revolution” in Venezuela and saying that “You have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power.” As usual, Beck offered only inflammatory soundbites, used in a monologue of attacks, rather than any dialogue that Beck had claimed to endorse moments earlier. “Boy, that sounds positively un-American,” Beck said, topping off the attack with a smear.

Then, Beck moved on to “introduce” us to “a friend of” Mark Lloyd who also happens to be “a friend of” Van Jones (one of Beck’s previous targets). That was Robert McChesney. McChesney has a long and distinguished record of accomplishments. But Beck ignored almost all of it in order to cherry pick what he could use to attack McChesney – and, of course, spice up his own monologue. Noting that McChesney is the cofounder of the media reform organization Free Press (disclaimer: this blog has been a supporter of Free Press and many of our bloggers have attended their conferences), Beck said, “They are looking for anything but free press.”

Beck skipped right over discussing anything Free Press actually does or supports (media reform, not Marxism) in favor of going straight for an attack on McChesney. “He is the former editor of Monthly Review which he, himself, has described as one of the most important Marxist publications in the world… He is a backer of Hugo Chavez… and even suggested that an owner of a TV station that was critical of Chavez should be arrested for treason. Wow, that sounds like Mark Lloyd. I wonder if they know each other… (McChesney) has said, quote about the U.S. ‘Any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself.’”

Beck went on in that vein with the audience getting only his highly inflammatory, extremely sketchy and self-serving take and none of McChesney’s perspective. So much for “fair and balanced” and “we report, you decide.”

“Here is yet another far-left radical who hates capitalism,” Beck declared. Oh, how proud Joseph McCarthy would have been.

Then it was on to Free Press. “Free Press worked with Obama during his campaign to help develop his tech policies,” Beck said accusingly. Beck made no effort to report what input Free Press actually gave Obama or about which tech policies. Instead, Beck went right for the unsubstantiated smear: “Whoa, what were some of those quotes we just had?”

Actually, those quotes were from McChesney and Lloyd, neither of whom are on the Free Press staff (though McChesney sits on its board). “Free Press has three confirmed meetings now with Obama’s FCC to work on new internet regulations,” Beck said ominously. That was all we ever learned about the interaction.

Next target, FCC head Julius Genachowski who chose Free Press’ Jen Howard to be his press secretary. “The Marxist group? The most important Marxist group?” Beck mugged, forgetting apparently, that he had just misrepresented his own smear. According to Beck, McChesney had called Monthly Review “one of the most important Marxist publications,” not Free Press.

“Free Press also co-authored The Structural Imbalance of Talk Radio,” Beck continued. Aha! Now we know that Beck has a financial incentive to attack these folks. That report, which is actually titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio” (Beck conveniently left out the word “political”), is about the disparity between conservative and liberal views on talk radio and the ways to make the political discourse more representative. Not surprisingly, Beck didn’t tell his viewers that, either. Instead, he distorted the report by saying that it sought to “remedy the ‘problem’ of conservative voices on talk radio by, among other things, forcing commercial owners who fail to abide by their rules to pay a fee that would subsidize public broadcasting.” Beck made it sound as though a station would be fined if it didn’t follow “the rules” of having more liberal voices and shutting down conservatives. But the report’s recommendations are actually more about restoring caps on the number of stations a corporation can own and ensuring greater local accountability of radio licensing.

To Beck, who doesn’t mind vilifying someone on the basis of a few self-selected quotes, that was an attack on free speech. “Freedom of speech is the most important right,” he said, back in his earnest, sincere mode. “Because if I can’t meet with you tonight and… if Keith Olbermann cannot meet with you every night, if we’re not allowed to say things that other people find offensive, if we’re not allowed to talk to each other and express opinions, well, then anybody could get away with just about anything, don’t you think?”

Yes, I do.