No one was a more outrageous and divisive figure on Fox News than the controversial Glenn Beck. The man, who once called President Barack Obama a "racist," anchored his own Fox News broadcast for more than two years before leaving the network in June, 2011.
Beck's show came under heavy criticism for his antics and inflammatory comments. In July, 2009, he declared, "The president is a Marxist." That same month he told his audience, "everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill, are transforming America and they are all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations." He continued, "His goal is creating a new America, a new model, a model that will settle old scores through social justice."
In February, 2011, Beck ranted for six minutes that if "radical Muslims" took over in Egypt they could build a caliphate that would spread to countries around the world. While standing at a map showing several countries in green, he said, "You have Somalia and Iran already in green. Now, let's add Tunisia...The poor and angry demanded changes...Most dangerous scenario is that radical Muslims seize power and put Sharia law into place. Same thing now in Egypt." He then pointed to Europe. "Let's talk about 22 percent unemployment in Spain...They have high Muslim populations," he observed. Then he raised similar questions about France, Italy and England, which also have large Muslim populations.
Beck already had a long history of making inappropriate remarks on television, as well as his radio program. In 2005, he spoke of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States. "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining." He once called President Franklin Roosevelt a dictator. In 2007, when fires destroyed several homes in California, he said, "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today."
Glenn Beck thrives on making controversial statements. He is a high school graduate from Mount Vernon, Washington, who says his mother committed suicide when he was a teenager. He began his radio career right out of high school. But from these humble beginnings he has gone on to amass a fortune, estimated at $65 million in 2011. He now is a media mogul, beginning his own television network, The BlazeTV, along with a website, in 2011.
Beck is smart, driven, and a shrewd businessman, who knows how to appeal to his audience. Now, however, he is sounding more introspective. At least, that's what one might conclude from his interview earlier this week, with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, about his run at Fox News.
"I remember it as an awful lot of fun, and that I made an awful lot of mistakes," he said. "I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language because I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart." He added, "And that's not who we are. I didn't realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we were kind of a little more together."
"I remember it as an awful lot of fun, and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language because I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart," he said to Kelly. "And it's not who we are. I didn't realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we were kind of a little more in it together." He then concluded, "I look back and I realize if we could have talked about uniting principles a little more, instead of just problems, I think I would look back on it a little more fondly. But that's only my role."
Yes, Beck did play a role in helping to tear the country apart. Yes, he should have been more uniting in his language. Yes, he did make mistakes. And, yes, advertisers stopped supporting the show. Given Beck's body of work, it's hard to believe his comments now to Kelly are at all genuine. He knew exactly what he was doing then at Fox News. So it's hard to believe that this interview is little more than another publicity stunt from Glenn Beck.