The 'Beck Phone' Line is Open

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brandon Hersh (202) 471-3205
bhersh@mediamatters.org

The 'Beck Phone' Line is Open

Media Matters challenges host to live up to self-professed interest in accuracy

WASHINGTON - In response to Glenn Beck lashing out
for being chosen as 2009's "Misinformer of the Year," Media Matters for America challenged him
to contact the organization if he
believes any critiques of his show are false or deceptive. Media Matters' President Eric Burns sent
Beck a letter inviting the Fox News host -- who has repeatedly professed an interest in
accuracy -- to call the
newly installed "Beck phone" anytime he believes he is being unfairly
criticized.

The letter reads:

January 5, 2010

Mr. Beck,

On October 13, you unveiled
a "red phone" that the White House could use to call in and "correct the
mistakes" on your show. On Monday, that red phone made another appearance, as
you - responding to Media Matters
naming
you 2009's Misinformer of the Year - again asserted your commitment to the
truth:

"If I'm not telling the truth, then why not just call me? That's all you
have to do. Call. Why is it that you attack this program, this network and
anyone, the tea party goers, anyone who stands in your way, Washington? Why attack? You see, lies are so
easily stopped. Lies that are broadcast nightly to an entire nation are easily
stopped. They're called laws -- or here's an idea, standards. Even if you think
I'm wildly irresponsible, you have to know that News Corp. is not stupid. It's
a company worth billions of dollars. Do you really think this corporation would
risk everything on an irresponsible crazy guy? That doesn't make sense. And
yet, the phone still doesn't ring. Truth."

While we do not have the number for your red phone, we have on many
occasions corrected falsehoods and misinformation from Fox News' Glenn Beck and Premiere Radio Network's The Glenn Beck Program - you simply refuse
to acknowledge it. You claimed our decision to name you 2009's "Misinformer of
the Year" was not backed up "with any facts." However, that decision was based
on the 175 research items we posted in 2009 alone addressing claims made on
your radio and television shows. For example:

  • Beck falsely claimed
    "[o]nly 3 percent" of stimulus plan would be "spent in the next
    12 months."
    Beck falsely claimed
    that "[o]nly 3
    percent" of the Democratic economic stimulus plan would be "spent in
    the next 12 months." Beck's figures were based on a partial
    Congressional
    Budget Office cost estimate that excluded faster-moving provisions in
    the bill. According to the CBO's full cost estimate of the bill,
    11.2 percent of the $816 billion bill would be spent in the first
    seven-and-a-half months after the bill is enacted, and, when including
    the
    bill's tax cut provisions, $169 billion -- or 20.7 percent of the
    bill's total
    cost -- would take effect in the first seven-and-a-half months.
  • Beck
    aired false claim that a union only needs 30 percent support from employees to
    be "established."
    Beck aired
    an on-screen graphic with the headline, "THEN ... WAGNER ACT," which
    falsely asserted that if 30 percent of employees want a union, "it gets
    established." In fact, the Wagner Act, which was passed in the 1930s,
    required that for union representation to be established, a majority of employees in a bargaining unit
    within a company had to "designate or select" a union to represent
    them. The National Labor Relations Act as it stands today also contains a
    majority requirement.
  • Beck falsely claimed average
    UAW worker makes $154 per hour.
    Beck falsely claimed
    that "the average UAW [United Auto Workers] worker" earns "[a]
    hundred and fifty-four dollars an hour if you look at -- you know, if you add
    in all of the benefits." In fact, a recent Barclays Capital analysis
    reportedly found that U.S.
    automakers "pay an average of $55 an hour in wages and benefits to hourly
    workers."
  • Beck falsely asserted that U.S. does not
    fingerprint foreign visitors or collect rapists' DNA.
    Beck asserted
    that "[w]e can't fingerprint anybody who's coming into this country
    because that would be offensive" and that "[w]e can't take DNA
    samples from killers or rapists, but you can have your fingerprint taken if you
    want to sell your house." In fact, the Department of Homeland Security
    does take fingerprints from "aliens seeking admission to the United States" at U.S. entry
    points, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures,
    "All 50 states require that convicted sex offenders provide a DNA
    sample."
  • Beck falsely claimed Iowa marriage ruling
    "is actually about going into churches."
    Beck falsely asserted
    that the Iowa Supreme Court's decision striking down the state's ban on
    same-sex marriage "is actually about going into churches ... and saying
    you can't teach anything else." In fact, the ruling does not affect
    religious institutions' definitions of marriage.
  • Beck echoes tired falsehood
    that ACORN received stimulus funds.
    Beck echoed
    the false Republican talking point by stating, "By including ACORN, or
    groups like them, in the stimulus package, we have guaranteed them billions of
    dollars to buy more votes for the party that helps them the most." In
    fact, the stimulus bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for
    funding.
  • Beck falsely claimed $1.4
    million in stimulus spent on doors, which actually cost $246,100 to repair.
    Beck
    falsely claimed
    that the government spent $1.4 million of economic stimulus funds "to
    repair a door" at Dyess Air Force Base. In fact, the doors repaired were
    hangar doors and did not cost that much money.
    Recovery.gov actually states that the government awarded AFCO
    Technologies nearly $1.2 million to replace gas mains on the base, and $246,100
    to repair doors in Building 5112.
  • Beck falsely claimed Obama said
    he doesn't want health reform protesters to "do a lot of talking."
    Beck
    falsely claimed
    that President Obama was "reacti[ng] to the health care protests"
    when he said, "I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of
    talking." In fact, Obama was not talking about public protests or even
    health care reform; he was discussing "folks on the other side of the
    aisle pointing at the federal budget and somehow trying to put that at our
    feet."
  • Beck reports fake murder story
    from ACORN video as fact.
    After Andrew Breitbart posted a video of
    an ACORN employee in San Bernardino,
    California, claiming that she had
    killed her ex-husband, Beck joined
    Fox News colleagues Karl Rove, Greta Van Susteren, and Sean Hannity in
    promoting it without fact-checking it or indicating that they had contacted
    ACORN for a response to the claim. In fact, ACORN stated that the employee made
    up the story because she recognized that the actors in the video "were
    clearly playing with" her so she "matched their false scenario with
    her own false scenarios," and, indeed, the San Bernardino Police
    Department has said her claim is false.
  • Beck, falsely claimed IPCC's
    Latif has "pulled the rug out" from under climate change consensus.
    Beck
    joined
    Sean Hannity in seizing on a World Climate Conference presentation on
    short-term natural climate variability by Mojib Latif, a prominent climate
    modeler, to suggest that, in Beck's words, Latif has "backed out now and
    said, 'We were wrong,' " about global warming because, according to
    Hannity, Latif stated that global temperatures are actually
    "cooling." In fact, Latif asserted that contrary to common
    "media" misperceptions of global warming as a "monotonic
    process" in which "each year is warmer than the preceding year,"
    there are significant natural climate variations within the decadal timescale
    that do not change the "long-term warming trend."
  • Beck falsely claimed Anita Dunn
    "worships" "her hero" Mao Zedong.
    Throughout
    most of his October 15 Fox News program, Glenn Beck falsely claimed
    that White House communications director Anita Dunn "worships" and
    "idolizes" "her hero" Mao Zedong. In fact, in the video
    that Beck aired as evidence to support his claims, Dunn offered no endorsement
    of Mao's ideology or atrocities -- rather, she commented that Mao and Mother
    Teresa were two of her "favorite political philosophers," and based
    on short quotes from them, she offered the advice that "you don't have to
    follow other people's choices and paths" or "let external definition
    define how good you are internally."
  • Beck falsely accused Reid of
    lying about support for public option.
    Following reports that Senate
    leaders will include a public option in health care legislation, on Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck falsely suggested
    that only "35 percent of the population" supported a public option
    and accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of lying when he said, in co-host
    Gretchen Carlson's words, "the public wants this." In fact, polling
    consistently shows broad support for the public option, and the Fox News poll
    Beck is presumably referencing did not ask specifically about a public option.
  • Beck falsely claimed that under
    the Senate health care bill, "You don't get a single benefit until
    2014."
    On November 19, Beck falsely claimed
    that under the Senate health care bill, "All of the benefits of this bill
    don't kick in until when? You don't get a single benefit until 2014."
    According to a document
    released by Senate Democrats summarizing the "Immediate Benefits" of
    the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the bill included numerous
    benefits that would "be available in the first year after enactment"
    of the bill. Indeed, Washington Post
    writer Ezra Klein published a list
    of benefits
    that the Senate bill would provide
    "before 2014."
  • Reviving "born alive"
    falsehood, Beck claims Obama suggested it's OK to "put a spike in the
    baby's head."
    Beck falsely claimed
    that President Obama "suggested that [it] was OK" to "go into
    those pregnant women and pull the babies out of them and put a spike in
    the baby's head," echoing the oft-repeated right-wing falsehood that Obama
    did not support protecting babies who survived botched abortions. In fact,
    while serving in the state Senate, Obama opposed legislation to amend the
    Illinois Abortion Law because the amendment threatened abortion rights and was
    unnecessary since existing law already required doctors to provide medical care
    for babies who survived abortions.
  • Beck falsely claims no jobs are
    being "saved or created."
    Beck falsely claimed
    that "jobs are not being saved or created" and that the Obama
    administration is "creating the make-believe 'saved or created'
    category" for jobs. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
    recently estimated that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009,
    which was heavily promoted by President Obama, created 1.6 million jobs, and
    the Bush administration repeatedly stated that its economic initiatives had
    "saved or created" jobs.
  • Beck falsely claimed Robert
    Creamer "stole" $2 million from banks.
    Beck falsely claimed
    that progressive activist Robert Creamer "stole" $2 million from
    banks while serving as Executive Director of the Illinois Public Action Fund.
    In fact, Creamer was never accused of stealing any money and the judge in the
    case reportedly gave Creamer a lighter sentence because no one suffered any
    "out of pocket losses."
  • Beck led charge advancing
    "Lie of the Year" contender that Holdren supported forced abortions
    and sterilizations.
    Beck repeatedly
    advanced
    the false claim that White House science and technology adviser John Holdren --
    whom Beck called "our science czar" -- supported forced abortions and
    putting sterilants in drinking water. PolitiFact previously declared his claim
    "pants on fire" false and nominated it for "Lie of the
    Year," stating that Holdren and his coauthors "make clear that they
    did not support coercive means of population control." Beck's claim was
    Politifact.com's runner
    up
    for lie of the year.

Your response to being named "Misinformer of the Year," however, did
not appear to be backed up "with any facts." For example, you claimed that
death panels were "discovered by The New
York Times
" but the article you cite makes no mention of health care
reform or death panels.  You stated that you "didn't want" Van Jones "to be
fired" but on the September 3 edition of your radio show you said that
"[r]emoving Van Jones is not enough" and called on listeners to ask "Why is
this man in [Obama's] administration?"

You've repeatedly professed your interest in accuracy, stating that you
would immediately correct any errors on your broadcasts. Unfortunately, it's
hard to take this claim of yours - like so many others - seriously. For
example, it took you more than four months to correct your assertion that Van
Jones was a "convicted felon" who had spent "six months in
prison" - and you certainly haven't corrected any of the troubling errors
we've highlighted above. 

But just in case you are truly interested in setting the record
straight, Media Matters is going
take a cue from your October 13 show. We've installed a "Beck phone" at our Washington headquarters,
accessible by dialing (202) XXX-XXXX.
I challenge you to contact us anytime you believe one of our critiques of your
show is deceptive or false. We'll be waiting for your call. 

Warm regards,

Eric Burns

President, Media Matters for America

 

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

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