Conspiracy talk radio host Glenn Beck said Tuesday that he isn’t sure why he’s been labeled a conspiracy theorist in the media, but he’s pretty sure it’s the result of a “concentrated effort” somehow coordinated by the White House.
Building on his theory that CNN secretly orchestrated an incredibly awkward moment between host Wolf Blitzer and an atheist survivor of the Oklahoma tornadoes, Beck told listeners on Tuesday that it’s just another example of the media’s conspiracy to push a hidden agenda, in this case atheism.
“The media has their own agenda,” he said of CNN. “And if the media has a storyline, it just writes it in. And currently the storyline is ‘conspiracy theorist.’” Then, without irony, he asked: “Why is it a concentrated effort now to label me a conspiracy theorist?”
The answer, Beck explained, goes all the way back to the White House and former Obama adviser Cass R. Sunstein, a Harvard law professor. Sunstein did not respond to a request for comment, but in 2008 he penned a 30-page document examining the etymology of popular American conspiracy theories, and now Beck appears to believe this document’s contents are somehow being used against him.
“He said the government should call anyone who stands against them a conspiracy theorist,” Beck insisted. “This isn’t a conspiracy theory. This is what he wrote about. This was his way for the government — and he said, ‘Even if it turns out to be true, you have to label people a conspiracy theorist because it isolates them.'”
However, what Sunstein wrote is actually quite different from Beck’s summary.
“Of course some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true,” he explains in the paper’s introduction. “The Watergate hotel room used by Democratic National Committee was, in fact, bugged by Republican officials, operating at the behest of the White House. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency did, in fact, administer LSD and related drugs under Project MKULTRA, in an effort to investigate the possibility of ‘mind control.’ Operation Northwoods, a rumored plan by the Department of Defense to simulate acts of terrorism and to blame them on Cuba, really was proposed by high-level officials (though the plan never went into effect). In 1947, space aliens did, in fact, land in Roswell, New Mexico, and the government covered it all up. (Well, maybe not.) Our focus throughout is on false conspiracy theories, not true ones.”
He goes on to explain that members of fringe conspiracy groups who are exposed to a limited environment of self-reinforcing information are already isolated from society and must be brought back by closing that gap, not widening it.
“Although these conditions resemble individual-level pathologies, they arise from the social and informational structure of the group, especially those operating in enclosed or closely knit networks, and are not usefully understood as a form of mental illness,” Sunstein wrote. “The socialetiology of such conditions suggests that the appropriate remedy is not individual treatment, but the introduction of cognitive, informational, and social diversity into the isolated networks that supply extremist theories.”
Beck’s own diatribes reflect Sunstein’s description, with every new theory building on the last in a daisy-chain type narrative. However, after describing his version of the paper to his listeners, he resigned himself to an ever-shrinking audience who he hopes to simply keep “awake.”
“I don’t really care,” Beck told listeners. “I knew from four years ago. I’m not getting out of this with my name or my reputation. That’s fine. I know who I am. My family knows who I am. My kids know who I am. You don’t believe me? Fine. I don’t even care anymore. I’m not really trying to wake anybody up. I’m trying to keep those who are awake, awake a little bit longer.”
This video is from “The Glenn Beck Show,” aired Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
(H/T: Right Wing Watch)