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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.

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Beck was simultaneously calling on his followers to eschew violence, since "one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything," and claiming, "It's not time to pick up guns" or "blow anything up," all while warning, "Somebody's going to do something stupid, and it will change the republic overnight."

Beck uses Fox News show as tool for organizing conservatives

On March 13, Beck used his Fox News show to tearfully announce his 9-12 Project, weeping as he declared, "I just love my country, and I fear for it," then stiffening his spine to add, "They don't surround us; we surround them." Within days, Beck was denying interest in running for office, telling Fox News' Patti Ann Browne that "we would run out of missiles. Seriously, that would be the most overused phrase in my administration, 'What do you mean, we're out of missiles?' "

As Media Matters demonstrated, the anti-government tea party protest movement operated as a de facto subsidiary of Fox News, and no one better illustrates the interconnected nature of Fox News and the tea parties than Glenn Beck. On April 6, with an image of his 9-12 Project flag waving behind him, Beck let his followers know where they could "celebrate with Fox News" at "FNC Tax Day Tea Parties." Three days later, Beck announced that he would be participating in a tea party fundraiser prior to speaking at a tea party event and used his Fox News show to tie the tea party protests to Thomas Paine. Then, his persecution complex in overdrive, Beck declared that "[t]here are forces at play that are doing everything they can to make this -- tax day at San Antonio, the Alamo -- about me," informing his followers that he would not be giving the keynote address at the San Antornio Fox News Tax Day Tea Party, as had been originally planned. Beck would eventually marry his anti-government paranoia to his tea party advocacy, claiming that a Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism was somehow directed at tea partiers.

Beck's political activity continued in August as he began aggressively promoting "the biggest 9-12 tea party yet, on Capitol Hill." Beck's involvement with the 9-12 protest movement led CNN's Howard Kurtz to ask whether Beck is "a talk show host" or "a leader of a movement." Underscoring Beck's role leading the 9-12/tea party movement, Fox News footage of the rally included signs paying homage to one of Beck's numerous conspiracy theories, that of Obama's nefarious "civilian national security force." Beck would go on to dubiously claim that the protest was the "largest march on Washington ever," a claim he based on "overseas" reporting; he would subsequently cite a university he could not recall to claim that 1.7 million attended his protest. To cap it all off, Beck laughably argued that President Obama should have given his Nobel Peace Prize to "the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 project."

In the aftermath of his successful rally, Beck looked to more traditional ways to use his perch to engage in political activity. As the special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District drew to a close, Beck, along with several of his Fox News colleagues, aggressively campaigned for independent conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, on the grounds that GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava was too moderate, and thus did not pass their ideological purity test. He also offered to host a fundraiser for GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, and encouraged his followers to "leave" the Republican Party as "the best way to get Republicans to change."

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