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Glenn Beck's Year of Wild Conspiracies, Paranoid Delusions and Cynical Lies

Beck's unbridled ignorance and confidence in his own manipulative half-truths and lies make him the most dangerously effective misinformer of 2009.

Glenn Beck's well of ridiculous was deep and poisonous before he launched his Fox News show, but the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States -- and the permissive cheerleading of his Fox News honchos -- uncorked the former Morning Zoo shock jock's unique brand of vitriol, stage theatrics, and hyperbolic fright, making him an easy choice for Media Matters' 2009 Misinformer of the Year.

When he wasn't calling the president a racist, portraying progressive leaders as vampires who can only be stopped by "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers," or pushing the legitimacy of seceding from the country, Beck obsessively compared Democrats in Washington to Nazis and fascists and " the early days of Adolf Hitler." He wondered, "Is this where we're headed," while showing images of Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin; decoded the secret language of Marxists; and compared the government to "heroin pushers" who were "using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state."

Like his predecessor, Beck spat on scruples, frequently announcing his goal to get administration officials fired. He increasingly acted not as a media figure, but as the head of a political movement, while helping to bring fringe conspiracies of a one-world government into the national discourse.

And he all too frequently helped to set the mainstream media's agenda.

Glenn Beck's disturbing use of race and race-baiting

Appearing on Fox & Friends in June to discuss a White House "beer summit" between President Obama, a white Massachusetts police officer, and a black Harvard professor who had been arrested entering his own home, Beck uttered perhaps his most infamous words to date, calling the president a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." The statement drew widespread derision and condemnation, and Fox News immediately sought to distance itself from the statement. But Beck's divisive commentary was likely no surprise to his followers, coming as it did at the end of a week-long deluge of race-baiting that included the claim that Obama "has real issues with race," and Beck's incessant talk of Obama's policies as a form of minority reparations. Just one month earlier, Beck had agreed that Obama was elected because of race and not policies, and in May he called then Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a "racist."

In the controversy that followed Beck's inflammatory charge that the president is racist, his Fox News show began to hemorrhage advertisers, and Beck began to beg his viewers to "call a friend and tell them to watch the show this week." By September, Beck, who had become " tired of the race thing" and who claimed he doesn't "think the race thing works anymore," apparently decided it was time to move on. He later would blame politicians for charges of racism and call "false cries of racism" "dangerous." Beck then sat down for an interview with CBS' Katie Couric where he would express regret for the way he phrased the claim that Obama is a racist, but then emphasized that the issue of Obama's racism is a "serious question."

In the months since Beck called Obama a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred of white people," at least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from his Fox News show, yet he has faced no apparent repercussions from Fox News. Then again, Rupert Murdoch apparently agrees with Beck that Obama is a racist. (Or maybe not.)

Beck's red scare tactics

Beck introduced himself to Fox News viewers in 2009 by announcing that he was "tired of the politics of left and right," which leads its participants to do insane things, like accusing political opponents of "trying to turn us into communist Russia." Setting aside for the sake of brevity Beck's long history of calling progressive figures communists and Marxists, he almost immediately put lie to his professed aversion. Yes, taking to the airwaves the following week on his radio show, Beck concluded, "I do believe that Barack Obama is a socialist" who "has Marxist tendencies." Beck explained:

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