For Immediate Release
Brandon Hersh (202) 471-3205
The 'Beck Phone' Line is Open
Media Matters challenges host to live up to self-professed interest in accuracy
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
The letter reads:
January 5, 2010
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
you 2009's Misinformer of the Year - again asserted your commitment to the
"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
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
bill's tax cut provisions, $169 billion -- or 20.7 percent of the
cost -- would take effect in the first seven-and-a-half months.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Beck falsely claimed $1.4
million in stimulus spent on doors, which actually cost $246,100 to repair. Beck
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
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
- 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
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
- 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
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
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.
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.