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Robert J. Elisberg

Robert J. Elisberg

Posted: July 27, 2010 10:32 AM

Glenn Beck and the Life of Brian

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Last week, Glenn Beck demonstrated again why one should pay as much attention to him as they would a carnival huckster. This time, however, it was Beck himself who explained the reason. And clearly. Discrediting himself in his own precise words.

Glenn Beck had been included in an article put together by the respected online black culture publication, TheRoot.com, "The Blackest White Folks We Know." (His inclusion was tongue-in-cheek for having given a black history lesson.)

On his TV show, Mr. Beck lambasted those on the list. Among them was Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, one of the premier stars of the National Football League, and a former Defensive Player of the Year. When he got to Urlacher, Glenn Beck commented, "I think the guy's a neo-Nazi."

Yes, pretty bad, I know. But the thing is, calling Brian Urlacher a neo-Nazi is not what Glenn Beck did so egregiously wrong. It's reprehensible, sure, but Glenn Beck does that sort of thing in his sleep. No, Mr. Beck's far-worse transgression was something else.

(Honestly, though, you have to admit: it's pretty impressive when wrongly-calling somebody a neo-Nazi barely registers on your "worst things" list.)

What Glenn Beck laid bare for all the world to see about himself was his apology.

Afterwards, Mr. Beck wrote his mea culpa on FoxNews.com:

"During a segment about myself being named one of the 'blackest white folks we know' by the Web site theroot.com, I made a few comments about some others on the list. Now, I know absolutely nothing about sports, so I didn't realize that one of them was NFL star Brian Urlacher. "Since then, I have been informed by my staff that Brian -- uh, Mr. Urlacher -- could kill me with his thumb in nine seconds if he wanted to. Although if we are talking about people in Chicago wanting to beat me up, he's going to have to stand in a very long line.


"Anyway, I apologize to anyone who was offended. I just made a neo-Nazi joke based on the short hair and white skin; I don't actually think he has fascist plans to take over the Earth."

There are so many things weasly about this "apology."

First, after calling Brian Urlacher a neo-Nazi on national television, he cowardly buried his "apology" in a written statement on a website.

Second, he doesn't "apologize" for being sorry about smearing someone, but rather does so cowardly, afraid simply that the 6'4", 260 pound Urlacher could hurt Mr. Beck if he wanted to.

Third, all Glenn Beck does is clarify that he doesn't think Mr. Urlacher has fascist plans to take over the Earth. He says nothing to retract that Urlacher is not a neo-Nazi. One with perhaps smaller, more realistic goals.

And finally, the only thing he "apologizes" for is offending anyone. Indeed, he goes on in the piece to quippingly list many of his previous jokes, thereby hoping to bury and minimize his apology.

And here's the thing -- none of that is what Glenn Beck did so egregiously wrong, either. Mind you, it was bad. Cowardly. Smarmy. But Glenn Beck wrote something far worse about himself in his own words.

Glenn Beck told you that he smeared Brian Urlacher simply because of how Brian Urlacher looks. Beck wrote, admitted that he called Urlacher a neo-Nazi because he had "short hair and white skin."

Shirley Sherrod was vilified and fired last week because people wrongly thought she had said the same thing -- 24 years earlier.

But even that isn't Glenn Beck's transgression. Rather, it's something else entirely that lays Glenn Beck's contempability bare -- in his own words.

Here's what it is.

It's when Glenn Beck writes, "Now, I know absolutely nothing about sports, so I didn't realize that one of them was NFL star Brian Urlacher."

There is Glenn Beck telling you in his own words who he is and how he operates. Glenn Beck didn't know who is the world Brian Urlacher was - acknowledges he didn't know who Brian Urlacher was -- yet he still had no qualms about labeling him a neo-Nazi on national television.

It doesn't matter if this was "a joke" or not really. Honestly, I suspect it was "a joke." Just like Ann Coulter told "a joke" about poisoning Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Just like Mr. Beck himself told "a joke" about poisoning Nancy Pelosi. After a while, when people keep telling the same hurtful "joke," what they're also telling you is how they think.

But that's a separate matter. The issue is that -- once again -- Glenn Beck knowingly told his audience a hurtful lie and didn't care that he was telling a lie. But this time, he goofed up and told you all that he knew it wasn't true. But smeared the guy anyway.

Here's the thing: Glenn Beck apologized because a Fox lawyer called him up and said, "Glenn, you just opened yourself up to a huge lawsuit." Otherwise, he would have left his "joking" smear untouched. He would have put out into the world on national television that he, Glenn Beck, believes Brian Urlacher is a neo-Nazi. And people who believe every word that Glenn Beck says would have believed him.

Time and again, Glenn Beck does this. He cried that the Democratic Party was Ruining the Republic by trying to destroy Eric Massa -- only to "apologize" 50 minutes later. He bellowed that a rally of 50,000 people was supposedly 1.7 million -- based on information from "the University of I Don't Remember." Time and time and time again, Glenn Beck pulls words out of one of his orifices and strings them into sentences to terrify people, and all of those trusting, scared people believe him.

Only this time, Glenn Beck told them all that he didn't have a clue what he was talking about when he smeared someone.

If only he would have apologized for that.