Fox News commentator Glenn Beck sparked a firestorm in July when he declared on the air (though not on his show) that President Barack Obama possesses “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture” and called him “a racist.” He seemed unchastened even after his own network distanced itself from his comments and advertisers began to flee his show, “Glenn Beck.” (Disclosure: Southern Poverty Law Center board member James Rucker is executive director of ColorOfChange.org, the organization that asked advertisers to boycott Glenn Beck.)
Now, Beck has issued a list of “reasonable questions for unreasonable times” that he wants his viewers and listeners to ask. “It’s vital that we all question with boldness, hold to the truth and speak without fear,” he says on his website.
Trouble is, many of the questions are based on faulty assumptions. Take the question about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN, a nonprofit social justice group whose work includes advocating for better housing. Beck asserts: “The stimulus package funneled billions of dollars to ACORN. How does giving billions of dollars to ACORN stimulate the economy?”
In fact, if Beck actually read the $787 billion stimulus bill, which Congress passed in February with the goal of boosting the economy, he’d learn that it makes no mention of ACORN. Just in case we missed something, however, Hatewatch consulted two nonpartisan sources: the St. Petersburg Times’ PolitiFact.com and the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org. Both said it’s untrue that any money — let alone billions — is earmarked for ACORN. What the stimulus bill does do is open up competition for “neighborhood stabilization” funds to nonprofit groups, rather than limit them to government agencies. So ACORN could theoretically apply for money to buy and fix up foreclosed homes. But neither ACORN nor its sister organization, ACORN Housing, renovates foreclosed homes.
ACORN is often vilified by conservatives because its workers have been investigated several times for voter registration fraud. But Beck’s ACORN obsession borders on loony: He has accused the agency of having “270 other names” and has complained that Obama is deliberately wrecking the economy so that young people will have to work for the ACORN.
Perhaps it’s time someone asked Beck a few reasonable questions about his unreasonable rants.