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Wednesday, 02 June 2010 08:03

Glenn Beck, Protector of Families, Picks on the President’s Children

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by Jeffrey Joseph

Considering the exceedingly hyperbolic rhetoric that comes out of Glenn Beck’s mouth, from claiming a Jewish social justice worker used “exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany” to telling his Christian listeners to leave their churches, he makes it hard for a reasonable person to agree with any of his sentiments. Yet, with all his misguided rhetoric, one plea Beck repeats that actually makes some kind of sense involves demanding that people keep the families out of political fights. Beck would earn more credit for the assertion — if only he were not so obviously hypocritical about it.

Just last week, Beck went on the air and mocked Malia Obama’s level of education in an attempt to criticize President Obama’s response to the BP oil spill. Doing a derogatory impression of Malia, Beck asked his co-host Pat Gray, pretending to be President Obama, “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole yet? Daddy?” Beck went on to ask, through his Malia voice, “Why do you hate black people so much?” Beck, who never attained a college degree himself,  reiterated the initial comment with an extra dig at Malia, saying, “‘Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?’ Is that’s their — that’s the level of their education, that they’re coming to — they’re coming to daddy and saying ‘Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?’”

Bringing Obama’s children into the argument so exceeded the boundaries of entertainment that Beck felt the need to apologize for his actions days later. Unfortunately, the apology comes across as disingenuous considering he lies to say, “There is absolutely no excuse or reason to ever, ever, ever, ever even come close to the line of dragging somebody’s family into the debate. I’ve never done it. I’ve never done it until last Friday.”

Not only has Beck dragged families into the debate often, he has specifically introduced the Obama family into the debate for years. Beck went after Obama’s father, saying, “His father abandoned him. Why? So he could go off to a Marxist school in New York. Then his father left the country to go try it out.” At the same time, Beck targeted Obama’s mother, who he believes left Obama “with his grandparents so she c[ould] pursue critical theory, which is Marxist. Both parents leave a boy for Marxism?” In addition, Beck went after Obama’s grandparents, wife, and children for what he perceived to be their political thoughts and inclinations, all despite his rule against involving the families.

Of course Beck willfully invokes the family at his own leisure. Though he claimed to have criticized Malia with the intention of illustrating how Obama used children as a shield, he had done that very thing with Sarah Palin earlier in the week. Journalist Joe McGinniss moved next door to Sarah Palin, incidentally while he worked on an unauthorized biography about her. In response to the move, Palin and Beck manufactured all kinds of outrage, Beck demanding that McGinniss “leave the families alone.” While McGinniss had not yet approached anyone in the Palin family, Beck portrayed him as “a peeping tom” who “is now able to look into Piper’s bedroom,” Piper being Sarah’s nine-year-old daughter. Beck and Palin, who supported Beck’s claims, had no foundation for their insinuations. Rather, they simply used the children as political tools to conveniently vilify the respected author next door.

Those instances pertain to just last week; Beck’s malicious use of the family extends much further back. Years ago, he had embarked on a ratings war with a friend in town, Bruce Kelly. Two days after Kelly’s wife suffered a traumatizing miscarriage, Beck called Bruce’s wife, on the air, to mock how Bruce “apparently can’t do anything right.”

Those are the kinds of classless attacks Beck has stooped to in his career involving families in a bid to increase ratings. He would go so far as to mock a fellow DJ, a friend, for something as tragic as a miscarriage. Yet he still musters faux outrage at the trumped-up violations he believes others make against the sanctity of the family. It makes about as much sense as him telling his audience he is not juxtaposing modern America with Nazi Germany within an hour of doing precisely that. Even if Beck could make a valid point, like how people should avoid targeting the apolitical family around a politician, he so immediately contradicts his own point that hardly anyone would notice.

FOX has quite a few problems to work on, but airing a personality like Beck who so often goes after the family of his political opponents or uses family as a shield against attacks crosses an ethical line. In between contradicting himself, Beck would agree to the reprehensibility of doing so. Hence, viewers should tell FOX it should stick to the facts and to the politicians if it wants to work as a serious news organization — and in the meantime choose to Turn Off FOX.

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Originally posted at Turn Off FOX.