So the Glenn Beck backpedal begins. Slowly. But surely.
After initially insisting that he'd never used the word "slaughtered" on the air -- or, if he had, only in reference to Mao, Stalin, or Hitler -- Beck, having been presented with the video evidence, admitted today on his radio show that he'd said it... but insisted he wasn't talking about the Obama administration. And that, even if he was, he wasn't being "literal."
He started his second day on the subject by insisting once again, "I'm pretty sure I'd remember it if I'd said the administration was slaughtering people or was going to slaughter people." But he quickly pivoted to the assertion that when he said "They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered!" he was talking not about the Obama administration, but about SEIU president Andy Stern. He then said that if I wanted to "make the case that Andy Stern is part of this administration...bring it on, girlfriend!" Listen below:
Two things: first of all, it's just as paranoid to say that Andy Stern is taking people to be slaughtered as it is to say it of Obama. Second, it is Beck, not I, who treated Stern as if he was part of the administration. Indeed, for a full ten minutes before making the "slaughtered" comment, in a conspiracy-laced rant, Beck tries to make that exact case, saying Andy Stern "practically lives at the White House." He repeatedly makes fevered connections between Obama, various members of his administration, Stern, George Soros, "anyone around this White House," and "progressives"... all of whom want to turn America into a "Marxist" state.
But, after offering this first explanation (that he wasn't talking about the president), Beck abruptly shifted gears and admitted that, in fact, when he warned that "this plane is coming down, because the pilot is intentionally steering it into the trees," the "pilot" in his metaphor was, in fact, Barack Obama.
Then Beck insisted that when he said that the people "in control... are taking you to a place to be slaughtered," he didn't "literally" mean that Barack Obama was going to personally kill people. Listen below:
No, Beck contended again and again and again, the whole time he was just talking about "the economy." Barack Obama is going to slaughter the economy. Even though he clearly said "taking you" not "taking the economy."
So, to review the ever-changing explanations: Beck never used the word "slaughter" -- until it was proven that he did. Then he only used it in reference to Mao, Stalin, or Hitler -- until it was proven that this wasn't the case. Then, when he used it, he wasn't referring to the Obama administration, he was referring to Andy Stern. Then he was referring to Obama -- but didn't mean it literally.
Got it? You might need to use Beck's trademark chalkboard to keep track.
The crux of the matter was never whether Glenn Beck really believes Barack Obama is planning to actually slaughter Americans. It's the damage being done by the inflammatory rhetoric and imagery he constantly uses. The evoking of "slaughter" and "killing sprees" and a president who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people" is meant to play into the public's legitimate anxiety over the economy -- and fan the flames of fear.
And that brings us back to the question I originally asked Roger Ailes on This Week: "Aren't you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using -- which is, after all, inciting the American people?"
It remains unanswered.