Much like the Depression-era demagogue Father Charles Coughlin, the Fox News personality is promoting a mass movement. Should his bosses be pulling the plug? Tim Rutten asks this imponderable question in the Los Angeles Times:
For nearly a century, the Anti-Defamation League has stared unflinchingly into the dark corners of America’s social psyche — the places where combustible tendencies such as hatred and paranoia pool and, sometimes, burst into flame.
As a Jewish organization, the ADL’s first preoccupation naturally is anti-Semitism, but in the last few decades it has extended its scrutiny to the whole range of bigoted malevolence — white supremacy, the militia movement, neo-nativism and conspiratorial fantasies in all of their improbable permutations. These days, the organization’s research is characterized by the sense of proportion and sobriety that long experience brings.
That makes its recent report on the extremist groups and propagandists that have emerged since President Obama’s election — “Rage Grows In America: Anti-Government Conspiracies” — particularly notable. For the first time in living memory, the ADL is sounding the alarm about a mainstream media personality: Fox News’ Glenn Beck, who also hosts a popular radio show.
The report notes that while “other conservative media hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, routinely attack Obama and his administration, typically on partisan grounds, they have usually dismissed or refused to give a platform to the conspiracy theorists and anti-government extremists.” By contrast, “Beck and his guests have made a habit of demonizing President Obama and promoting conspiracy theories about his administration. … Beck has even gone so far as to make comparisons between Hitler and Obama.”
What gives all of this nonsense an ominous twist is Beck’s announcement that he intends to use his TV and radio shows to promote a mass movement that will involve voter registration drives, training in community organizing and a series of regional conventions that will produce a “100-year plan” for America to be read from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a mass rally Aug. 28…
[continues in the in the Los Angeles Times]