Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The McCarthyist Style in Glenn Beck's "White Culture"

Imagine if Glenn Beck were forced to defend some of his most irresponsible statements. Katie Couric gives it a go:

She could have pushed him harder, but still, it's good that she raised the question – what did you mean by "white culture"? ThinkProgress has a partial transcript. Crooks and Liars links some of the good recent articles on Beck (and their Beck category is pretty extensive).

I'd particularly recommend the Media Matters and Sidney Hillman Foundation pieces on the Time fluff piece on Beck (also this Balloon Juice commentary). Salon's series on The Making of Glenn Beck is good as well. Meanwhile, Evil Slutopia has a great roundup (from April) of Beck's most loathsome statements.

Beck's gutless dodging reminded me of that queen of political grifters, Ann Coulter. As I wrote in a long post on her, she simultaneously wants credit for being "outrageous" yet want to take no responsibility for her statements. It's a cowardly, dishonest display. Beck's doing the same thing here, and all of the new McCarthy gang have this tendency. Without irony, both Beck and Coulter have invoked McCarthy in a positive way. But their resistance to saying outright what they want to gives away the game. Beck's happy to call Obama a racist and inflame racial tensions – it's good for business – but acknowledging that what he's saying is racist is not good for business. The boycott against him might win him further fans from the lunatic fringe, but it puts off the mainstream. Some Republicans are trying to distance themselves from Beck as a result (see the C&L links above). But this is a further scam, because Beck works for conservative propaganda outlet Fox News, and he's spouting mostly standard issue, far right bullshit – even if it comes with his unique brand of crazy performance art on top.

Let's recall, we saw much of the same game from the McCain-Palin campaign, with their camp stoking bigotry, denying it only when forced to, and often blaming their own crap on the Obama camp. It was utterly despicable and shameless. Yet most media outlets hesitated to call it out, and even worse, some made excuses for it.

TBogg catches a right-wing furor over Janeane Garofalo making a similar point about the teabag crowd:

She's pretty accurate here.

These dynamics are central to coverage of Beck, from the whitewashing of his bigotry to the game of false equivalencies. From that Jamison Foser Media Matters piece (emphasis his):

Time continued:

The old American mind-set that Richard Hofstadter famously called "the paranoid style" - the sense that Masons or the railroads or the Pope or the guys in black helicopters are in league to destroy the country - is aflame again, fanned from both right and left. Between the liberal fantasies about Brownshirts at town halls and the conservative concoctions of brainwashed children goose-stepping to school, you'd think the Palm in Washington had been replaced with a Munich beer hall.

What in the world is Time talking about? This is a grotesque false equivalence. Conservatives have been yelling about President Obama being a secret Kenyan bent on sending granny to the Death Panel, comparing him to Hitler and Mao and Stalin and who-knows-who-else -- and that, apparently, is matched in intensity and paranoia by liberals pointing out this unhinged behavior? Insane.

Sadly, this is typical from the media. It's especially irresponsible because Beck is the "It" Boy of Paranoid Hatred for the moment, and it's dangerous to help sell "The Return of McCarthyism":

We know the damage these scoundrels do if they're not confronted.

Edited for typos and clarity. The final video doesn't seem to load in some browsers. If you find that's the case, you can view it here or here.

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