Throughout much of the last week, Glenn Beck has been detailing what he calls the conspiracy of the “puppet master” George Soros. Using a number of puppets (literally), video clips, and press clippings, Beck has argued that Soros is using his billions to purposefully collapse the world economy and financially benefit himself. Beck has also claimed that Soros is anti-Semitic, even though Soros is himself a Jew.
Beck’s loyal followers believed what they were being told. Beck continually told his audience to “do their own research” into his claims. If any of them actually bothered to do their own research, they would find conservative websites’ confirming Beck’s conspiracy theory and liberal websites’ debunking Beck’s theory.
So what is the truth for the millions of Americans who do not have the time to do ten hours of research on George Soros?
As usual, Beck’s broadcast featured a mix of truth, half-truth, distortions, creative video editting, and outright lies. Beck has continually challenged someone to prove how he is wrong. Media Matters, themselves partially funded by Soros, did release a very lengthy fact check, complete with links to non-partisan sources. The report details how Beck often clips or distorts Soros’s words to infer a meaning which, in reality, was never there. In addition, Beck often exaggerates the reach of Soros to make him appear more powerful that he really is. In reality Soros, like any billionaire, does have a lot of power and influence, but nowhere near the kind of power and influence Beck claims.
Unfortunately, that gets most of Beck’s followers nowhere since they immediately dismiss the source rather than actually looking into the claims. Beck also frequently dismisses Media Matters as another one of Soros’ puppets without actually disputing what they have said. After all, if Glenn Beck or Media Matters say 2 + 2 = 4, neither of them cease to be right simply because they are Glenn Beck or Media Matters. Media Matters at least bothered to document Beck’s claims and refute them on paper. Beck simply dismisses all fact checks on him as being biased.
The most controversial part of Beck’s series concerned Soros’ Jewish faith. Beck’s illustration of Soros as a “puppet” master who was purposefully causing the economy to collapse had some similarities to the Nazi propaganda of the 1930’s. The Nazis accused powerful Jews of secretly working to destroy the German economy, and used the Jews as a scapegoat for the country’s problems.
[See the Top 10 Glenn Beck stories of 2009]
Beck has even gone as far as claiming that Soros actually helped the Nazis send Jews to concentration camps. In fact, Soros was only 14 at the time of Nazi occupation in his country (a fact Beck conveniently likes to leave out). At the age of 13, Soros was given “tickets” by the Nazi-operated “Jewish Council” to give to Jews in his community. The “tickets” were a way of tricking the Jews to show up at deportation centers where they would be forcibly sent to concentration camps. When Soros showed the “tickets” to his father, he told him to hand out the tickets and tell the recipients that they would be deported if they report. Soros’ father then paid a Christian man to protect his son by hiding his Jewish identity. While George Soros lived with the man, he was tagged along while the man took inventory of property at the homes of Jews who had just been deported. Soros, once again, age 14 at the time, claims that he did not take part in the process of confiscating Jewish property. Even if he did, it is at least debatable whether a 14 year-old boy hiding from forcible deportation should be held accountable for the situation. The Anti-Defamation League has condemned Beck’s characterization of the story. Beck responsed, of course, by claiming that the ADL may be on Soros’ payroll.
[Compare pictures of Glenn Beck’s rally with Jon Stewart’s rally]
In the end Beck’s series managed to leave the world less educated then they were before they started watching. Most people watching either knew nothing about Soros beforehand, or already had a negative opinion of the billionaire. Those same individuals left with distorted accounts and some believed things about Soros that have no basis in reality. Soros is, by no means, a saint. Even liberals take issue with his tendency to capitalize on emerging and failing markets around the world. Ultimately, Soros, like every businessman, likes to make money by taking advantage of the situation around him. Some may argue Beck does the same by using hyperinflation fears to promote sponsors like Goldline and Food Insurance. However, if the world economy really does collapse, it is unlikely to be the fault of Soros or Beck. The world economy is huge, and these men, even with their vast wealth and influence, are relatively small in comparison.