One of our favorite people to annihilate in the pages of The Daily Banter is Alex Jones. But there's one thing I'd offer up as a compliment: at least Alex Jones is original. He's a psychonaut and an exploitative matchstick man who's making millions on the paranoid naivete of his gullible, mentally unbalanced disciples. But he's kind of the first big-time household name in the universe of broadcast conspiracy theorists.
I can't say the same about Glenn Beck. Anyone who's been familiar with Beck and Alex Jones over the years has always known that Beck is a knockoff of Alex Jones. Of course Beck tosses in dashes of morning zoo deejay stuntcasting, comedy bits and witty goofballery simply because that's his broadcast background. But the right-wing evangelical paranoia and conspiracy theory marketeering is 100 percent Alex Jones. Not surprising considering how most right-wing talkers are radio careerists who are only conservative as a career move (as personality-driven FM radio declined, the AM right-wing entertainment complex ascended, and the old FM guys jumped aboard).
This is all to say that Glenn Beck is a more successful, more accessible version of Alex Jones. And there's no doubt that Beck is a conspiracy theorist. He's a purveyor of wacky, purely fabricated gibberish leading to the ultimate conclusion that there's an unholy alliance composed of the Obama government and "fascist" progressives out to destroy us all.
So it was with significant amusement that I watched a clip from Beck's show yesterday in which he complained about being tagged with the "conspiracy theorist" label. Last week, Beck postulated that the hilariously viral "thank the Lord" exchange between Wolf Blitzer and a woman who happened to be atheist was actually staged. Beck's conspiracy theory: the interview was a false flag intended to make Christians look like buffoons.
"The media has a storyline and an agenda. And they will get to it. And they certainly don't want anybody to think that anything is ever, you know, planned. Wolf Blitzer said, his producer said that didn't happen. Okay, totally cool. This isn't a bad thing. It is an interesting angle to the story. But the media has their own agenda. The media goes for it. And if the media has a storyline, it just writes it in. And currently the storyline is: conspiracy theorist. Why? Why would that be the agenda item now? Why is it a concentrated effort more than any other time in my career -- why is it a concentrated effort now to label me a conspiracy theorist?"
Are you following his twisty logic on this? He's denying that he's a conspiracy theorist while raising the question of a media conspiracy to label him a conspiracy theorist. But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist and the media is only saying this about him -- all of a sudden -- as a means of discrediting him. But anyone, whether they're a fan or a hater, knows that Beck is absolutely a conspiracy theorist.
Here now... The Very Best of Glenn Beck's Conspiracy Theories.
The Boston Marathon Bombing Cover-up. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Boston, Beck made headlines with the conspiracy theory that the government wasn't telling us the whole truth about the "Saudi national" who was questioned and released. "The government has not come clean. Some of this information has come out over the weekend, and immediately the government tried to discredit it." But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
The Oklahoma City False Flag. In 2010 Beck theorized that the Obama administration would orchestrate an Oklahoma City-style terrorist attack in order to improve Obama's connection to the American people. “They are setting up an Oklahoma City, they are claiming that one is coming and they’re already marked the one who caused it,” he said. Alex Jones' InfoWars website noticed that Beck had essentially stolen the theory from them. But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
Cass Sunstein Will Kill Us All. During President Obama's first term, Beck engaged in an ongoing smear of former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein who, according to Beck, is the "most evil man" in America and "the invisible hand that's pushing you." Sunstein is one of the reasons why Beck said we need to buy guns. Beck also said that Sunstein is a Nazi who's planning a Second Bill of Rights and would soon "be responsible for many, many deaths." In fact, Beck mentioned Sunstein again in his rant about conspiracy theories yesterday! But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
The Entertainment Industry Foundation's Maoist Agenda. According to Beck, the EIF aims to spread Maoism via television programming, specifically via programs that allegedly promote "volunteerism." What Beck doesn't mention is that Rupert Murdoch is an honorary board member of the EIF. But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
The Egyptian Marxist Caliphate. I can't even unwrap all of the moving parts on this one, but it involves communism, a new Franz Ferdinand moment, a "shadow government" in Egypt along with red flags in Wisconsin (??) and Arianna Huffington hosting "Shadow Party Conventions." Uh. Yeah. But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
The Cap-and-Trade / Crime, Inc Conspiracy. Simon Maloy described this theory like so: "In order to perpetuate the 'redistribution of wealth' scam that is cap-and-trade, an environmental organization that used to have Barack Obama on its board steered grants to the Chicago Climate Exchange, whose investors include Al Gore, Fannie Mae, and Goldman Sachs. At the same time, the former CEO of Fannie Mae secured a patent for carbon trade swap and managed to steer money to a group called the Emerald Cities Collaborative, which was linked to a Wisconsin college professor (dubbed "the wizard" by Beck) who has influence over Obama, somehow." But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
Google and the Government. Beck urged his listeners not to use Google because of an apparent disinformation campaign being orchestrated by the popular internet company: "Who are they? Are they right? Are they left? Are they clean? Are they dirty? Are they front groups? I don't know. May I recommend if you're doing your own homework, don't do a Google search. It seems to me that Google is pretty deeply in bed with the government. Remember, maybe this is explaining why Google is being kicked out of all the other countries. Are they just a shill now for the United States government? Who is Jared Cohen? Is he a private citizen or government operative? And isn't this the second Google guy we've found? This is the second Google executive now being exposed as an instigator of a revolution." But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
System X is Spying on Our Schools. On his show, Beck wheeled out his chalk board to explain how this one works. Through a series of scribblings and spooky words, Beck outlined a conspiracy in which the Department of Education is installing sensors in school chairs and MRI machines in classrooms in order to gather personal information about students and parents as a means of establishing "System X" with one political party controlling all aspects of life. He described this Ayn Rand inspired plot as a "progressive bonanza." But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
Obama Loves the World Trade Center Bomber. Beck, through his website, reported that the Obama administration was plotting to release the so-called Blind Sheikh to Egypt as a way to resolve the crisis there. The conspiracy theory rapidly circulated through Republican circles leading Reps. Lamar Smith, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mike Rogers, Buck McKeon, Peter King, Hal Rogers, Frank Wolf and Kay Granger to write to the administration demanding answers. Incidentally, this is one of the big reasons why Beck, Jones and others are dangerous -- when their gibberish crosses through the semi-permeable barrier into the realm of the congressional Republicans it ceases to be entertainment and morphs into serious business. But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.
I could go on and on with more of these, such as his conspiracy theory about a progressive 100-year time bomb, land-backed currency, the civilian national security force and so on, but I think you get the idea.
It's the politics of "who... me?" This is a common tactic among fringe conservatives and the Republican Party alike. They deny, deny, deny and pretend to be the sad victimized loner in the wilderness, yet they're clearly engaged in the very deceptions they're denying, in Beck's case often within the same rant. The "conspiracy theorist" label is itself a conspiracy against him and, by proxy, all conservatives -- a Mobius Loop of hocus-pocus duplicity. His followers, cocooned within Beck's epistemic bubble, accept it all at face value (don't look at Google!) while the rest of us who peek in from the outside can see the obvious slight-of-hand in Beck's close-up magic tricks. The crisis emerges when elected members of our government are suckered by Beck's act. It's bad enough that millions of Americans hang on his every word, but when people like Paul Ryan appear on his show and the line between serious governing and morning zoo conspiracy-mongering becomes blurred. Then again, I suppose any attempt to keep Beck's chicanery out of Congress and especially out of our schools will be defined as a conspiracy against you-name-it.
But he's totally not a conspiracy theorist.