You are hereWashington Post Op-Ed: Conspiracy theorists find validation from Glenn Beck

Washington Post Op-Ed: Conspiracy theorists find validation from Glenn Beck


October 10, 2010- Glenn Beck has a friend in California.

"I would've never started watching Fox News if it wasn't for the fact that Beck was on there," says this friend, Byron Williams. "And it was the things he did, it was the things he exposed, that blew my mind."

"I do enjoy Glenn Beck," Williams also says, "and the reason why I enjoy that is because... no other channel will speak about the same things that he's talking about, and if you go and investigate those things you'll find out that they're true."

Unfortunately for Beck, this satisfied viewer currently resides at the Santa Rita Jail near Oakland and stands accused of a freeway shootout with police. Williams pleaded not guilty to four counts of attempted murder of a police officer. But according to court documents, he said he had been on a mission to kill people at the liberal Tides Foundation, which happens to be a favorite Beck target.

In August, I wrote that while it's not fair to blame Beck for violence committted by his fans, he would do well to stop encouraging extremists. Now, Williams has granted a pair of jailhouse interviews, one with the conservative Examiner.com and one to be published soon by the liberal group Media Matters. These recorded exchanges, which I have reviewed, show precisely why Beck is dangerous: because his is the one voice in the mass media that validates conspiracy theories held by the unstable.

The Examiner, in an article published this week, exonerated Beck by pointing to Williams's statement that "I know Beck continuously talks about peaceful resolution but I have constantly disagreed. This, however, misses the point. It's not that Beck is directly advocating violence (he might be in Santa Rita himself if he did that) but he's giving voice and legitimacy to the violent fringe.

"Beck is going to deny everything about violent approach, deny everything about conspiracies," Williams told the freelance journalist John Hamilton, who did the interview to be published by Media Matters. "But he'll give you every reason to believe it. He's protecting himself, and you can't blame him for that. So, but I understand what he's doing."

Listening to Beck, Williams explained, "you can pick up ideas and you can get on your Internet and just verify it."

FULL STORY HERE:

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