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The Norwegian summer camp is like Hitler Youth, the tent protest is communist, there is great real estate in Judea and Samaria and Islam is the source of all evil in the world. The provocative broadcaster Glenn Beck, who does not stop provoking and was recently fired from Fox News, came to Jerusalem to make a "pro-Israel" speech. Members of the American leftist organization Media Matters for America are going to record and closely monitor every word that comes out of his mouth. An a special interview with Globes they explain why they will do everything to shut down his microphone Tal Sneider, Globes, August 22 2011 [Hebrew original here] When the popular radio broadcaster Glenn Beck takes the stage this Wednesday in the archaeological park on the south slope of the wall of ancient Jerusalem and tries to persuade his audience here and listeners in the US that they are about to hear and see a divine revelation, there will be people sitting in front of computer screens in Washington, watching this charismatic man's every gesture, recording his every exceptional move and quoting his strange and fallacious statements. We know what to expect. Glenn Beck, a popular radio broadcaster and until recently one of the prominent announcers on Fox News, is a professional provocateur, and as a person who considers himself a lover of Israel he announced in advance that his Restoring Courage rally in Jerusalem is going to be "an event that changes the course of the world" and that there is a possibility that "during the rally pillars of fire will appear" and "the gates of heaven will open." Beck, who is not well-known in Israel, is getting ready for his big day in Jerusalem as if it were a defining event to which he ascribes tremendous Christian and political importance. But his opponents and critics in the US are sure that since he was fired from the conservative Fox News network he has been trying to use Israel in order to gain public legitimacy and renewed recognition of his status as an important and central media figure. While in the US Beck's scandalous statements are widely covered, or rather the subject of loud shouting matches, and even though until very recently he had millions of listeners and viewers on radio and television, it is not clear what his attraction is in Israel. He may deter the Israeli public because he does not speak Hebrew, or maybe because the Israelis, even those who lean to the right, recoil from the radical messages of a foreigner, a Christian, who preaches extreme values of hate and racism.
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Beck speaks decisively against a Palestinian state and against dividing Jerusalem and blames radical Islam for almost every evil in the world. Even though it would be easy to dismiss him as a fantasizer, many people in the US think he is a dangerous man and even a latent anti-Semite, who has no qualms about comparing every bad thing to Nazism and Hitler, just to get attention. Just recently, after the terrible massacre in Norway of teenagers at a political summer camp, Beck announced on his radio program that the political summer camp reminds him of a Hitler Youth camp. "Who makes a political camp for kids? It's disturbing," he said. A well-funded organization On his arrival in Israel two weeks ago Beck declared that the tent protest reminds him of Russian communism. "Who are the 200,000 people demanding change on the streets of Tel Aviv and campaigning against Netanyahu? Who are these people?" he asked on his radio program. "They're obviously from the hard left," his fellow broadcaster Steve Burguiere said, and added that only in Soviet Russia were the kinds of solutions the Israeli protesters are demanding offered. Beck quickly resolved the Israeli real estate shortage with the obvious answer "in Israel there is no undeveloped land but there is undeveloped land in Judea and Samaria, that place that they call the West Bank or something, but its real name is Judea and Samaria." If there is one particular group that disturbs Beck it is Media Matters for America. During the rally, members of the organization are going to monitor every single word he utters. At the end of the broadcast (Beck plans to broadcast the whole thing live by Internet and radio) members of Media Matters are going to pull out his fallacious statements and deranged acts and post information that contradicts his claims on their site. That is what they have been doing to Beck and every other right wing radio/television broadcaster in the last years. Media Matters for America, which calls itself a media watchdog organization, was founded in Washington in 2004 by David Brock, who was disturbed by the amount of disinformation in the right-wing American media. Members of the organization sit in front of television and Internet screens and listen to the radio programs and monitor every word the right-wing broadcasters say. Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News Network and right-wing websites are Media Matters' main "clients." As soon as they broadcast anything inaccurate or defame the president or the left, Media Matters corrects it. On their site, on the social media and through press releases. "Until Media Matters began to work, there was no one to correct the errors or falsehoods that the right spreads," MJ Rosenberg, head of the organization's Middle East desk, told Globes in a telephone interview from Washington. "We are a wellfunded organization and we fact check the right-wing broadcasters all the time. Page 2 of 5
The proof that our activity is successful is that the right is always talking about us. They do not like to be checked and enjoy spreading that George Soros, one of our donors, was a Nazi. But we are in the business of correcting the other side's lies by presenting facts, which nobody did before." Your focus on Glenn Beck, especially on the rally he is planning in Israel, puts him in the limelight and gives him publicity. You might even be promoting him with your activity. "Maybe it does promote him and that is always the problem when you give publicity to the bad guys. But it is important for us to explain to the Israelis that this man is not a friend of Israel. We want the Israelis to understand that he is casual about the Holocaust, that he is a fake, and I would rather publish the bad information about him than ignore him." Why is Glenn Beck actually coming to Israel to hold a rally? His whole story sounds like an internal American story. What is he trying to achieve here? "I believe he is simply exploiting Israel for his needs. Since he was fired from his program on Fox he has been looking for a popular cause to identify with in order to promote his reputation. Since Israel is very popular with the political right in the US, what he is trying to do is to validate himself, reposition himself, especially now that his status has been so weakened." Yet he is so popular in the US. Could you try to explain this man's attraction? "He calls himself a 'clown.' He says about himself 'don't take me seriously.' For him it is all a show, coming to Israel, feeling he is on the forefront, broadcasting to Christians in America. Here I am, standing in Jerusalem and talking about how it will never be divided. That is something that wouldn't work for American Jews but it impresses the Christians. It attracts listeners in the Midwest. It is his way to make a comeback." What is it about him that is so compelling for the American center? "His belief in conspiracy theories. The fact that he simplifies the world for Americans. He talks about an Islamic conspiracy to take over the world. But people who believe in progress do not like to hear simplistic and shallow explanations for the world's problems and all Beck does is provide simplistic explanations. He is the only one that links Marxism to Islam even though they are opposites." Ari Rabin-Havt, Vice President of Media Matters, tells "Globes Tonight" about his organization's efforts to get back off the air a few months ago. "Glenn Beck may be a domestic American issue," he says, "but he put Israel into the picture by deciding to hold his event there and educating the Israelis. Media Matters did not plan to Page 3 of 5
turn Israel into a wrestling ring. If he had held his event in Germany we would be trying to explain to the German press who Glenn Beck is." Advertisers were recruited to the struggle Are you responsible for his program on Fox News being taken off the air? "Media Matters does not take credit for that action by itself. It was a cooperative effort with other American organizations, led by an organization called Color of Change, which is a black organization, as well as a large organization of rabbis, called Jewish Funds for Justice. 400 rabbis from all denominations ran a giant ad against Beck in the Wall Street Journal, where they claimed that Fox News (The Wall Street Journal and Fox News are both owned by the same media magnate, Rupert Murdoch – T.S.) and Beck were using the themes of the Holocaust and the Nazis too frequently in order to attack anyone they disagreed with." Then, was it the activity of those groups that got Glenn Beck off the air? "I think it was a combination of advertisers whom we gave information showing they should not be associated with him and a drop in his ratings, a drop in revenues from his program until at some point Fox News realized he was more of a liability than an asset for them and fired him." Who told the advertisers they should not work with Glenn Beck's program? "That is a pretty amazing part of the story. We at Media Matters always posted information on our site about exactly who advertised on his program and we also addressed advertisers directly by e-mail correspondence, but things started to really move when a young man named Angelo Carusone, who was a law student, opened a Twitter account called #stopbeck and started really bombarding the advertisers with his tweets against Beck. He was followed by thousands of people and everything he posted against the advertisers had a huge impact. He put a lot of pressure on each advertising company, some of whom were not even aware at the beginning that their broadcasts were running during Glenn Beck's show. And all of his activity had a tremendous impact. By the way, we ended up hiring Carusone at Media Matters and now he is with us." So you made an effective advertisers' boycott and that is what got the program off the air? "Yes. Thanks to Carusone and thanks to the fact that we monitored every erroneous thing he said on the program. And really also thanks to Glenn Beck himself, because one of the hardest moments was when he accused President Barack Obama of being a racist. That angered a lot of people in the US. A lot of people wrote letters to the network protesting against him, advertisers withdrew Page 4 of 5
from the program, ratings dropped and finally Fox News had no choice but to take the program off the air." Were you happy when you managed to get him off? "We felt we had done something important. That was a meaningful moment for our organization because even though there is free speech in America, free speech comes with the responsibility to use your common sense when you express yourself and since Beck expressed himself irresponsibly every day, we were naturally glad when his program was canceled." If Glenn Beck is so problematic, how do you explain the large audience that listens to him? "Because he is a talented man and his talent is what is dangerous, because all he wants is to do is promote himself. Unfortunately, there is a big audience for hate preaching. Hate talk is very popular." Glenn Beck's reaction was not received by the time this edition closed.
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