Do you see a pattern?

Every now and then, America goes into this trance. I don’t know if it is a response to our feeling threatened or what but we do have these periods in our history which are difficult to explain. The McCarthy era, in which your reputation could be destroyed by one senator mentioning your name, is a fine example. During this time period being a communist was awful, but knowing a communist was almost as bad. Simply being associated with a communist could get you called out in public. You could lose your job. You could be ostracized by your friends. You had to be more patriotic than Captain America in order to withstand the scrutiny.

This leads me to today. I believe that we are on the tail end of one of these periods that is going to be difficult to explain to our children. From September 11 until now, there was almost a race to see who could be the most patriotic. We saw that race play out on our TV screens with Fox News being the winner. No one was more apple pie than Fox. ABC, CNN, NBC and CBS tried to pull out the American flag and to move more to the right in their television coverage, but they never got the audience. Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly were kings of the hill. They had millions of viewers every night. Then, almost out of nowhere, came someone who is even more patriotic than they were — Glenn Beck. With sagging ratings, CNN threw a Hail Mary and pulled Glenn Beck out from radio. He really didn’t have a television background (to the best of my knowledge). He instantly made news. After a couple years, he moved from CNN to his natural home at Fox News.

I’ve never really understood Glenn Beck’s appeal. I don’t understand the crying. I don’t understand the hyperbole. I don’t understand how everything is related to Hitler. I don’t understand how when you’re doing a news show, you can get the facts wrong and Americans don’t seem to care. I just don’t get that. I don’t know how you can come out and say that the president of the United States hates white people and that there are no significant repercussions. This is much like what happened in the McCarthy era. McCarthy just said stuff. He had no data to back it up. Glenn Beck is almost exactly the same. He just spouts things and people believe it. I have no idea why. I guarantee you if I said those things on the air my family would have me committed and rightly so.

So an Israeli raid on a flotilla draws international condemnation. The official position of the United States is somewhat muted. Glenn Beck and Fox News would never let an opportunity like this go to waste. They know that conservatives have this knee-jerk reaction to support Israel no matter what they’ve done. So, Glenn Beck shows news footage that everybody else has. This is not exclusive to Fox News. Why does he imply that this is an exclusive? Because his audience never questioned him. I am hopeful that we will return to a time when Americans want facts more than they want the Glenn Becks of the world.

Watch the video as Jon Stewart points out that Glenn Beck is simply a lying sack…

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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