Internet conspiracy talk show host Glenn Beck claimed on his program Wednesday that nobody ever thought he was a conspiracy theorist until President Barack Obama came into office and set into motion a monstrous conspiracy to make Beck seem insane.
Responding to a clip aired on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” in April, during which Maddow uses Beck and fellow conspiracy host Alex Jones as examples of the modern Republican fringe, Beck insisted that he wildly disagrees with Jones on virtually everything, saying Maddow tried to nail him but failed.
Beck added that it wasn’t until President Obama showed up that people began to think he’s sounding a little strange. “I think it was Huffington Post that said, ‘Glenn Beck says they’re trying to make him into a conspiracy theorist.’ No, no. That’s not what I say.”
“I’ve never been called a conspiracy theorist in my life,” he insisted. “I have debunked. I have death threats because I dubunked the 9/11… I was never a conspiracy theorist until Cass Sunstein.”
Beck’s whole premise hinges upon a paper published by former Obama administration legal adviser Cass Sunstein, who wrote a 30-page document examining popular American conspiracy theories and proposing methods for defusing the more wildly misleading ideas floating around out there.
Beck was on the same tangent just one week ago, telling his listeners that the White House is running a conspiracy to make him into a conspiracy theorist, again citing Sunstein’s paper. However, when he describes the paper, his depiction strays from what it actually outlines.
In effect, the paper says the opposite of what Beck insists: that conspiracy theorists and their followers tend to be trapped in a self-reenforcing, closed-information system that can be disrupted by “cognitive, informational, and social diversity” — I.E., exposure to new people and ideas.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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