Glenn Beck’s Miracle | Three 8/28 Thoughts August 29, 2010Posted by Jamie Friedland in Media, Politics.
Tags: 8/28, Conservatives, Faith, Glenn Beck, Political Climate, Politics, Restoring Honor, Tea Party, ThePoliticalClimate
Towards the end of his spectacle this weekend, Glenn Beck offered definitive proof of god’s existence. He started recounting a personal tale about the most holy type of divine intervention: the fundraising miracle.
Beck said that although having raised $3.1 million for a charity he’d pledged to help, he was still $600,000 short of his target. But alas, there were no more donors to be found.
On the flight back from his final fundraiser, Beck says he raised his face to the ceiling of the airplane cabin and, for the first time, actually questioned god (he cried as he said this). But that makes sense, because falling $600,000 short of a fundraising target would test the faith of the most fervent believer.
So Beck called out to god. Then, he tells us, without saying a word to anyone but god, the final $600,000 were miraculously donated in just two days. God himself saved Beck’s fundraising effort when all hope was lost. Ask and you shall receive.
It’s a moving story: god helped Beck meet his fundraising target when there was literally no more money to be found anywhere – except perhaps the $32 million Beck made last year…
Three additional observations:
1) Focus. Wasn’t this event supposed to be about supporting the troops? It was called “Restoring Honor.” I came a little late to the theatrics, but what I saw was solely about restoring faith. Glenn Beck just attempted to evangelize America. Maybe I missed something, but is that really how this event was advertised?
A friend of mine spoke to some tea partiers as they were leaving the rally, and they seemed to echo this sentiment. To paraphrase them, “we thought he was going to talk about the troops and the Constitution. We thought he was going to tell us what to do since we came all the way here. Instead, he just told us to go to church.” I am curious whether there may actually be some resentment from his base about this.
2) Size. Beck and his conservative gang are using the size of the rally as proof of the strength of their movement. But how big was it actually? The U.S. National Park Service no longer makes official tallies since being accused of low-balling the numbers for the Million Man March (and because they get nothing out of making the tallies so that’s a lot of hassle and no benefit to them). Unfortunately, the absence of an official tally opens up the crowd size to conservative hyperbole.
Instead of just guessing, CBS commissioned an estimate based on aerial photos that came to 87,000 +/- 9k. NBC Nightly News said tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands. ABCNews said more than 100,000. The event had a permit for 300,000. Beck said between 300,000 and 650,000 were there. Fox News “reported” at least 500,000. (Just our of curiosity, anything happen if your event exceeds its permitted size?)
But my favorite crowd estimate was conducted by Rep. Michele Bachmann (TP-MN). At her own little rally at the Washington Monument, she asked her audience how many people thought that more than one million people were there. The crowd cheered. And so it was. Having compiled that scientific data, she said “We‘re not going to let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million people here today because we were witnesses.”
This is exactly the kind of manufactured conservative reality I have been talking about – it’s a “we believe it, so it’s true” perspective. Democracy is a good form of government, not a good tool to determine what is objectively factual.
3) Class. Beck told his audience that they needed to accept god “so that we can guide [America/the world] down the stairs and out of the building to safety.” I was confused for a minute, but then I got the reference. I don’t find that imagery particularly tasteful.
But then what do you expect from Glenn Beck? John Avlon has a good critique of the rally at The Daily Beast that highlights the blinding hypocrisy of this event. Beck’s actions invite media commentators to rightly call him out because external criticism only further endears Beck to his faithful audience, and he doesn’t have to worry about them noticing the hypocrisy because they only trust Fox News.