There was a piece last week in Rolling Stone entitled "Glenn Beck's Shtick? Alex Jones Got There First" that perfectly illustrates three home truths:
- People primarily motivated by self-promotion will get into bed with anybody.
- Lefties obsessed with the destruction of a viscerally feared and hated enemy -- and that's all of them -- are likewise not overly choosy.
- These two groups tend to cohabit a lot.
In this particular instance, the menage a deux is between Alex Jones, amiably described as:
The godfather of the 9/11 Truth Movement, [and] the most popular chronicler of what he believes is a New World Order plot to enslave the global population ... [until] recently ... a lonely and little-known voice in the short wave and Internet radio wilderness.
and Alexander Zaitchik of Rolling Stone. Their shared goal is a take-down of Glenn Beck. Jones attempts to do this by proving, between spasms of sputtering envy, that Beck has stolen his ideas and adulterated the message. Zaitchik does so by lumping Beck together with a 9/11 Truther smart enough to work with video equipment and dumb enough to cooperate with Rolling Stone - whose general regard for him is such that they described him thus in a separate piece:
The most paranoid man in America is trying to overthrow the 'global Stasi Borg state,' one conspiracy theory at a time
In fairness to both gentlemen, their case does seem airtight. Using seven — count 'em seven — examples provided by Jones, Zaitchik weaves a tale of industrial espionage not seen since Jonah Goldberg ripped off my original idea that communism and fascism are essentially the same.
But my woes are inconsequential when compared to Jones, who evidently holds copyrights on:
- The notion that statism relies on manufactured crises and scapegoats.
- The concept of, and the exact term "New World Order".
- The fact that historical socialists, crypto-socialists and progressives like George Bernard Shaw (and H.G. Wells and Margaret Sanger — not mentioned but just to throw a few more in) were thoroughly unpleasant people obsessed with the selective breeding, and efficient disposal, of humans.
- The revelation that the Egyptian revolution might not be the Lexington and Concord moment the MSM was hoping for, and that outside interests would attempt to manipulate chaotic events to their own ends.
- The idea that Google is cooperating with government agencies in ways unhealthy to the Republic.
- The idea of the Google bomb.
In addition to suspiciously pursuing some of the same story ideas -- also known in some circles as "seeing the nose on your face" -- it emerges that Beck has interviewed some of the same guests on his show during which they talk more or less about the same things. As we all know, that's a phenomenon unprecedented in modern news cycles.
Jones' amplified list of grievances can be viewed below. You might want to grab a glass of water before you settle in.
In breaking news Jones was also the first person to discover blackboard chalk, but I digress.
Although Jones' imperviousness to the idea that anyone could ever have thought of anything before -- or apart from -- him is quite amusing, the piece is not without its unfunny parts. Notable among these are Zaitchik's clumsy and profoundly dishonest attempts to suggest that Beck agrees with Jones' position that the Obama Administration is attempting to engineer an "inside job" like Oklahoma City or 9/11:
Alex Jones was the first 9/11 Truther. ... More recently, Jones and his websites have been sounding the alarm, based on mainstream press clippings, that the Obama Administration might find political gain in the tragedy of a “new Oklahoma City Bombing” or a 9/11-style attack. Jones had been making this argument for several months when Beck began to hit a very similar note shortly after the midterms last year. “They are setting up an Oklahoma City. They are claiming that one is coming and they’re already marked the one who caused it,” Beck said in November, referring to himself.
The full transcript of Beck's remarks are here, in which he was clearly reacting to this clip:
MARK PENN, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Cabinets don't really sell things. The president himself has to reconnect with the people. Remember, President Clinton reconnected through Oklahoma, right?
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Yes, because the bombing was down there.
PENN: And the president right now, he seems removed. It wasn't until that speech that he really clicked with the American public. Obama needs a similar kind of event.
... and this letter to Beck's advertisers from the Tides Foundation, which read in part:
The next “assassin” may succeed, and if so, there will be blood on many hands. The choice is yours. Please join my call to do the right thing in this regard and put Fox News at arm’s length from your company by halting your advertising with them.
(Full letter here.)
The assassin in question was one Byron Williams, whose bent-on-mayhem journey to the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU came to an abrupt halt when the California Highway Patrol pulled him over for speeding and driving erratically. Media Matters got all sweaty over the possibility Williams might be a Beck aficionado only to suffer cruel disappointment when a subsequent interview clearly showed Williams' clear indifference to both Fox News and Beck.
As I wrote at the time:
It shouldn’t be necessary to say this but even if they found a little Glenn Beck shrine, complete with incense and a sacrificial Twinkie in Williams' home, it would prove only that he was a crazy person with a thing for overweight white guys. The operative term here is “crazy person.” And what is clear about this non-story is they don’t even have that.
All of this is to say that none of this deterred Tides Foundation CEO Drummond Pike from writing his "boycott Fox" letter three months later. Beck, noting his self-evident role as one the Left's favorite pinatas was referring to media spin and concerted attempts to drive him out of business. Words like "Obama", "cabal", "big building", "shape charges" and/or "boom ... winning" didn't come up.
It's easy to see how Jones and/or Zaitchik could have missed this -- since it was expressed in clear comprehensible English no mentally competent adult could possibly misunderstand -- but, again, it's probably a stretch to consider this proof of Beck's latent Truther envy.
I find it hard to believe that Zaitchik doesn't recognize these nonsensical and vaguely pathetic assertions for the negative attention seeking they are -- and doesn't care. The real purpose after all is to juxtapose Jones and Beck: any port in a storm will do.
Fact is, you don't even have to like or agree with Glenn Beck to recognize he and Jones are as different as chalk and cheese -- quite apart from the 9/11 Truther type issues and the sheer volume of conspiracies, where Jones enjoys a significant lead to put it mildly. What Jones dismisses as timidity on Beck's part more temperate minds might consider greater care and cost counting. Critics who regard Beck as shrill or over the top really do need to take in Jones' act on a moderately sustained basis to see the real thing at work (at last Jones and I agree on something).
On foreign policy, while Beck has certainly questioned U.S. global commitments, he is nowhere near Ron Paul territory, which is more or less where Jones lives.
Beck is pro-Israel -- Jones, not so much.
The most obvious and profound difference, however, is character.
By helpfully providing grist for Rolling Stone to continue its "Beck-is-so-crazy" narrative the crafty and astute Jones has allowed himself to be played like a piano by the very people he claims to stand against. All this, of course, in the cause of massaging his ego and boosting his own viewership by using Beck as a chin-up bar.
I don't think even Beck's harshest critic would consider him capable of that.
(Cross-posted at NewsReal Blog.)