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Fox News’ Latest Meme: Suggesting Obama Is Committing Treason

Reported by Ellen - December 17, 2009 -

Less than a week after Sean Hannity coaxed his studio audience into showing their enthusiasm for charging President Obama with treason, Glenn Beck jumped on a disputed rumour to tell his television audience, with hammy melancholy, that, much as he did not want to believe it, the Obama administration's supposed threat to close a strategically crucial Air Force base in Nebraska if Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) doesn’t support health care reform legislation, “borders on treason.” Both the White House and Nelson have denied the rumour, which came from an unnamed Senate aide, as reported in the Weekly Standard. But Beck dismissed those denials as unreliable and self-serving and, declaring that it “fit the pattern,” repeatedly suggested it was probably true. Will Fox News be calling Obama a murderer, a la “Tiller the Baby Killer” next? Is there any line they won't cross in their zeal to see Obama hounded out of office or worse? With video.

Speaking of his upcoming accusation, Glenn Beck said, “We try very, very hard to make sure that... it’s accurate and there’s no reason to make stuff up. I mean, the stuff that is out there is crazy.” Then he proceeded to offer what had been a debunked report.

“I have paused three times and gone back to my producers today and said, ‘Are you sure we have enough on this one? Are you sure we have enough? Because this is a story I do not want to believe.’”

That right there is hard to believe. For one thing, as even Beck later pointed out, the actual parties involved have denied it. But further evidence that it was bogus or, at the very least unproven, was that the story was not discussed on Hannity (I’m waiting for Julie to let me know if it was discussed on O’Reilly) and as I’m writing this, is not on the home page of Foxnews.com. There is a post on Fox Nation but it has a far less inflammatory headline, Source: Dems Threaten Ben Nelson With Base Closing. If there was any real basis to support Beck’s charge of “bordering on treason,” it’s hard to believe that Fox News would not have trumpeted it at every possible opportunity. But that doesn’t mean the “fair and balanced” network won’t continue to allow individual hosts and guests to continue making the same baseless, inflammatory allegations, all under the guise of “opinion,” thereby allowing the network to distance itself from the rhetoric while, at the same time, promoting it.

Beck continued melodramatically, “But if it is true, we’re in a different world. We know that this administration practices Chicago hardball politics. But this goes far beyond any tactic I can imagine. Any president, no matter how much I disagree with him, he is still the president of the United States and I cannot believe that anyone in the White House would do this to pass his agenda.”

That’s about as genuine as Beck’s frog killing stunt. How many times has Beck pulled out his baseball bat and accused the White House of being thugs? In fact, he did it later in this same show.

Beck claimed that in the morning, there had only been one source for the report but that later, “there are three separate sources.” But the only source Beck ever revealed was Michael Goldfarb, who wrote the story in the Weekly Standard, and who cited only one source, “a Senate aide.” The Fox Nation post similarly reports, “According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn't fall into line.”

Beck said, “Senator Nelson has denied this story this afternoon. The White House denies this story but Goldfarb and the Weekly Standard are standing by their source and now two others.” We never did learn who or what the two other sources were.

Beck sighed melodramatically. “The Obama administration is possibly – and I (he stumbled as though unable to utter the very words he was, in all likelihood, pleased as punch to be uttering), I can’t bring myself to say these words because it is abhorrent if it is true. But it sure fits the pattern. They’re playing politics with the national security of the United States. If it is true, that’s exactly what they’re doing for health care. 'Does it seem implausible?' was the question that was asked to me several times by producers… A year ago, I would have said ‘yes.’”

But, of course, today, he was all too willing to believe, using one of his typically spurious arguments, that Obama had not behaved patriotically enough (he hadn’t sent enough troops and timely enough to Afghanistan when General McChrystal requested them, the courts-martial of two Navy Seals, his response to the Ft. Hood shootings and attacks by others on Sen. Lieberman) as “proof” that it’s possible. Just like all his other conspiracy theories, it all boiled down to, “I think it looks true and that's what counts.”

Meanwhile, Beck took a little detour to attack blogger Jane Hamsher again for her opposition to Hadassah Lieberman. “(Senator Joseph) Lieberman’s wife was attacked!” Beck said with outrage. “Liberal bloggers called for her to be fired from her position as a global ambassador for the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation because of her husband’s views.”

Actually, Hamsher was calling for her to be fired because her work as a lobbyist for the health care industry is a conflict of interest.

“We have seen plenty of extortion and the politics of absolute destruction from this White House!” Beck said.

Let me get this straight. Just a few minutes earlier, Beck accused Michelle Obama of, essentially subverting all our traditions in this country, on behalf of her husband, and he was now accusing that same husband of treason based on a flimsy, anonymously-sourced report that had been denied by the principals involved. But Beck was complaining about other people attacking political wives and their “politics of absolute destruction.” Can you say “hypocrite?”

“The rabid progressives don’t care how they accomplish their goals,” Beck said. “The ends justify the means.” So, having asserted his moral bona fides, Beck continued his unsubstantiated attacks on Obama. “Using the military and our strategic command as a pawn? Threatening to weaken our national security defenses to fulfill your utopian social justice agenda? To me, that borders on treason. No one, no one, no one wants to believe that the president of the United States or any of his advisors would stoop to these kinds of tactics.”

Beck dismissed Nelson’s denial of the rumour by saying he “would obviously deny it to protect his party and the president.” Nah, Nelson would not be angry enough nor patriotic enough to confirm "borderline" treason nor the loss of so many jobs to his state.

But while discounting entirely the word of the guy who really knew whether or not he had been threatened, Beck suggested we should wholeheartedly believe the unsubstantiated rumour based on his say so. “Or do we take the story at face value, based on the preponderance of evidence of Chicago thuggery we’ve already seen?” He "asked."

Beck sighed theatrically. “They seem to be getting more and more desperate” at the White House. “But someone, somewhere must be interested in journalism besides this program and the Weekly Standard. Is there anyone who would like to report on this? … The possible White House extortion techniques?”

Probably not, Beck mused. “Not unless Tiger Woods is sleeping with one of the sexy female airpersons at Offutt Air Force Base. Then they’ll cover it.”

But then Beck engaged in exactly the sort of “journalism” he was excoriating in others. His next sentence was, “Oh, by the way, …(Jane Hamsher) dated for two years Andy Stern (head of SEIU). Our sources say she was just ‘left’ when she met him and by the end, she was a guerilla activist. What a surprise.”

What does that have to do with a threat to close an Air Force Base? Or is Beck alleging that Stern, SEIU and/or Hamsher were somehow involved in the threat? I don't know. But I'm sure we haven't heard the last of it. I'm also sure that Hannity will at least meet if not raise the ante very soon. And Fox News will look the other way with a wink and a nod.

Update: Media Matters' Jamison Foser has an excellent column that destroys Goldfarb's credibility.