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Glenn Beck Attacks Volunteerism As Un-American

Reported by Ellen - October 20, 2009 -

It takes a special man to attack volunteerism and community service as somehow un-American but Glenn Beck was more than up to the job yesterday (10/19/09). You might say he even relished the task as he mugged before the camera with his latest conspiracy theory – which looked a lot like his other conspiracy theories – that a television industry effort to promote volunteerism and service is somehow part of a communist plot by the Obama administration to stamp out capitalism and The American Way Of Life. With video.

“When you’re watching TV this week, you might notice a common theme on some of your favorite TV shows: service and volunteerism,” Beck sneered at the opening of the segment. He was referring to the same Entertainment Industry Foundation initiative that The O’Reilly Factor attacked last week in which more than 60 television shows will somehow showcase the benefits of volunteerism. “Not just public service announcements, but service and volunteerism will be worked into the plots...Your favorite character might volunteer at the dog shelter or at the park.”

“That’s great,” Beck added with disgust. “I just have one pesky question." Then he proceeded to ask a series of questions. "Are we running out of volunteers in this country?... Are we trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist? Are we creating a problem that doesn’t exist? To have an emergency that doesn’t yet exist?” Then, in his “rodeo clown” voice, Beck said, “or is it just a coincidence that all of this falls into line with President Obama’s Corporation for National and Community Service.”

Beck didn’t seem to care enough to answer his own questions but I did, at least the last one. As it turns out, the Corporation for National and Community Service was created in 1993. By my math, that’s about 15 years before Obama was elected president.

Furthermore, Beck forgot to mention that, according to USA Today, the EIF program, called “I Participate” morphed out of a bi-partisan call to action by then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

But, obviously, Beck was more interested in promoting his conspiracy theory than in digging for facts. “Or not a coincidence at all,” he hypothesized/suggested. Beck went on to quote from the EIF memo that was also touted on O’Reilly last week. “President Obama has called for a new era of responsibility… recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and world to serve others,” Beck read sarcastically. “It is the price and promise of citizenship. In response, our television community with the Entertainment Industry Foundation will launch a multi-year campaign to inspire action and promote a new way of thinking about service. “

“Well this is fantastic,” Beck ridiculed. “We’re living in Mao’s China right now.” He went on to mock Michelle Obama for recognizing the EIF for its initiative and saying, “It’s gonna be a great thing.”

Adopting his rodeo clown persona, Beck sneered, “Soon we can have 52 weeks of the White House just writing scripts and tell(ing) us what we should all do.” Of course, Beck never pointed to any instance of the White House actually writing any scripts or even interfering with any but that may have been too fine a point for Beck to bother with. After all, he had a conspiracy theory to promote - and ratings to garner.

“But Disney is getting behind this, too,” Beck continued. “If you put in a day of service, you get a free day at Disney World or Disneyland.” Oh, the horrors!

“This is all fine but doesn’t it seem a little bit convenient that all of this comes out now at the same time the Obama administration is calling for it?” For Beck, this somehow proved that Obama “controls the message through the media he holds in his pocket, or his little hand, that soon, if you disobey, he’ll just go…” Beck slapped his hand. Like the O’Reilly Factor before him, suspicious coincidence was all Beck needed to indicate a direct connection between Obama and the I Participate project.

Beck went on to make the false analogy of comparing EIF’s program to “the Bush administration paying a conservative columnist for writing editorials supporting the administration’s education plan.” Beck either didn’t notice or else he was so intent on attacking Obama that he didn’t care that he had just pointed out two major differences between the two: 1) The Bush administration paid columnists to write editorials – not even Beck suggested Obama had paid anyone to promote volunteerism; and 2) The editorials were in support of Bush administration policy. The volunteerism being promoted on television is not an Obama policy. Except to Beck.

“Why do we need government then or now feeding us propaganda?” Beck spat. “And propaganda to volunteer,” as if that were adding insult to injury. “I mean, I’d rather hear a message of service from a church or a synogogue or a mosque… where a free trip is not part of the deal, wouldn’t you?” Frankly, no, I’d rather be rewarded with a free day at Disney World. For those of us who don’t make Beck’s multi-million dollar earnings, that admission price means something.

Then, with malicious scorn, Beck said, “I’m sorry, Mr. President. Am I asking too many questions again?” He slapped his own hand.

In his zeal to attack the Obama administration, Beck was not just absurdly mean-spirited in his attacks on volunteerism, he was also monumentally hypocritical. Where was his outrage at Fox Broadcasting for participating in the initiative? USA Today reported, "’It's just heartwarming to see how everyone embraced this,’ says Preston Beckman, scheduling chief for Fox, which is incorporating I Participate into scripted series and PSAs for other shows, including Bones, So You Think You Can Dance and COPS. ‘It's great when you can find something that unites all of us, regardless of our political views.’” Apparently, Beckman never consulted with Beck about what would unite people.

Furthermore, where is Beck’s outrage over product placement, a practice in which a company often pays to have its product promoted in a show or a movie or even a book or video game? As it happens, Fox Broadcasting has teamed up with Microsoft to promote Windows 7 in the November 8 episode of Family Guy.

Closer to home, there’s plenty of outright promotion that goes on right there on Fox News. What about the promotion of Jerome Corsi’s book on Hannity recently? Was it just a coincidence that Corsi gave an “exclusive” interview to Hannity at the same time that Fox News flogged Corsi’s new book? Isn’t it just as propagandistic to promote a book as part of what’s presented as a news interview as it is to talk about service in the plot of a television show? And speaking of selling books as part of news, is there a Glenn Beck show that Beck doesn’t work a plug for his latest book into his own schtick? And what about Fox News' and Glenn Beck's promotion of the Tea Parties?

Where was Beck's outrage then? Maybe he's got no problem with GOP propaganda. Or maybe objecting to it just wasn’t lucrative enough for him.

You can pose those questions to him and/or his show by writing glennbeck@foxnews.com.