January 11, 2011

James Bond Aside, Beck Has Been Swinging Free For Years

If yesterday’s screenshot of a pre-programmed, rotating background on the Beck home page proved anything, it’s that the right has no monopoly on people who can get worked up over very little.  In the name of clarity, I offer up a sample of backgrounds rotating on the Beck homepage, the first one being the screen shot that set off many left wing heavy breathers, offering Beck seeming to play out a little James Bond fantasy.  (Although incendiary images have been disappearing like crazy this week in urgent CYA moves, it made all the sense in the world for the Beck people, once they realized it, to disappear this graphic.)

What the Twitter buzz around this screen grab does contribute to the conversation since the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, however, is the importance of logic, factual accuracy and coherence.  The reality is, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the far right have been consistently stoking up the populace and contributing to an escalating atmosphere of polarization, anger and hate, and there is no need for embellishment or extraneous frothing when the provocation and the escalation is clear.

Along these lines, Milbank hit it right on the head in drawing an analogy between writers for William Randolph Hearst and Beck/Palin as regards the shooting of President McKinley. There might not have been a direct causal link between the anger stoked by Hearst’s columnists and the President’s subsequent assassination, but what was conclusive in the public mind after the deed went down was how these media-antagonists primed the pump being fully deserving of their ultimate castigation.

Just from the BagNews beat, reading the visuals over the past few years, we’ve looked at example after example of Beck and Palin stoking audiences and modeling a culture of hate. One of my “favorite” images is this one that I posted in October ’09 demonstrating the reaction after the White House started complaining about hostility from FOX. For historical accuracy, I give you the image and my comments intact:

One Fox executive said that the jabs by the White House could solidify the network’s audience base and recalled that Mr. Ailes had remarked internally: “Don’t pick a fight with people who like to fight.” — from: Fox’s Volley With Obama Intensifying/NYT.

In light of the fisticuffs breaking out between FOX and the White House, a reader brought a troubling Glenn Beck behavior to my attention, one consistent with Mr. Beck’s loose grip on reality. What it made me wonder was when, if ever, I saw a TV personality gesticulating at figures on a video background as if physically interacting and even hitting them.

Last Wednesday’s Beck program offered up several examples. In the first (if you’re watching the video), he puts a double karate chop on Pelosi at the 3:32 mark, takes a more coy swing at Obama at 7:33, then delivers a more angry slap at the President’s mid-section at 7:45.

Beyond the loose boundaries, the clinical world has a term for this. It’s called: modeling aggression.

(8:40 am PST – Title revised)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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